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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Topkapi [Blu-ray]


(Jules Dassin, 1964)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: United Artists

Video: Kino Lorber



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:59:42.175 

Disc Size: 23,195,204,569 bytes

Feature Size: 22,369,726,464 bytes

Video Bitrate: 21.93 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 7th, 2014



Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1614 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1614 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)






• Trailer (3:47)





Description: After years of enduring movie lampoons of his 1955 crime-caper classic Rififi, director Jules Dassin topped them all with his own spoof, Topkapi. It's a rather disreputable crew that teams for the elaborate jewel theft masterminded by Maximillian Schell. Sexy Melina Mercouri Mrs. Dassin is probably the best of the batch: the others are faffling Robert Morley, unreliable Gilles Segal and Jess Hahn. Bumbling Peter Ustinov who won an Oscar for his performance is duped into helping the thieves, and soon finds himself uneasily straddling both sides of the law. As in Rififi, the theft itself taking place in Istanbul's Topkapi Palace museum is played out in near-complete silence. We won't tell you how the crooks are foiled; just be advised that money flies out the door when something else flies in the window. Topkapi was based on The Light of Day, a somewhat more somber novel by Eric Ambler..



The Film:

An attempt by Dassin to top his own hit Rififi: a glossy international heist movie, using a hammy multi-cultural cast and a screenplay by ex-Ealing stalwart Monja Danischewsky (based on Eric Ambler's novel The Light of Day) to chart a hit on an Istanbul museum. As a caper, its convolutions of comedy and suspense are par for the course, and at least it's free of the pretensions that usually scuttle Dassin's efforts in Europe (especially in tandem with his wife Mercouri); but it's a far cry from his classic American thrillers or his brilliant British noir, Night and the City.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

In 1954, while he was living in exile in France after being blacklisted by Hollywood, writer/director/actor Jules Dassin, made Rififi, a dark, fatalistic thriller that is considered the granddaddy of all heist movies. Ten years later, he returned to the genre though this time he served up a brilliant spoof entitled Topkapi. The plot, which involves the efforts of Elizabeth Lipp (played by Dassin's real-life wife, Melina Mercouri) and her gang of jewel thieves to steal a jeweled dagger from the impenetrable Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul, is markedly different from Rififi in almost every detail. The hardened criminals of Rififi have been replaced by an eccentric crew who approach their objective with supreme confidence and good humor. Whereas Dassin effectively worked in black and white to capture the grinding poverty and squalid surroundings of the thieves in Rififi, he uses lush color photography and the exotic locales of Turkey and Greece to create a light, sparkling entertainment in Topkapi. But there is one similarity the two films share and that is the climatic heist sequence. Filmed without dialogue and only minimal sound effects to heighten the tension, the theft of the jeweled dagger in Topkapi lasts forty minutes and improves on the burglary sequence in Rififi by virtue of its sheer technical virtuosity. In fact, director Brian de Palma and Tom Cruise would later pay homage to this scene in Mission: Impossible (1996).

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Topkapi makes it to Blu-ray from Kino-Lorber.  It's a competent 1080P transfer - single-layered, nice color separation but no real depth. There is some impressive tightness in a few close-ups. The aspect ratio is 1.66:1 and there is some textured thickness. The highlight is the richness of the colors. This Blu-ray isn't particularly remarkable but does advance upon SD.

















Audio :

Kino-Lorber use a DTS-HD Master stereo track at 1614 kbps. Like the video - it does the job but nothing beyond that. Manos Hatzidakis' score adds atmosphere and some lightness but doesn't stand-out as memorable. There is some depth that the effects share. The audio here is subject to the weakness of the production and this is probably as good as it will ever get. There are no subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

Only a trailer. I would have appreciated some vintage interviews with the participants or maybe a featurette on Dassin.



International crime fun! - Topkapi has a lot going for it. I enjoyed this under-achieving Kino Lorber Blu-ray for the film presentation although, after watching, you'd think it may deserve more in the way of extras.  Still - a film that I will, no-doubt, revisit.  If you are keen on this, unique, genre and the stars - you may find it worthwhile. 

Gary Tooze

October 1st, 2014


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze






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