Topkapi on DVD
Topkapi is a heist movie in the classic vein, though instead of the robbery
being of a big Las Vegas casino (as in Ocean's Eleven) or a big corporate
target (as in The Thomas Crown Affair and others), the plot revolves around
the theft of a valuable bejeweled dagger from a Turkish museum.
Peter Ustinov, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of a hapless dupe drawn
into the plot, leads a top notch cast in this relatively comic caper flick.
He's joined by Melina Mercouri and Maximilan Schell as the brains behind
Ustinov's character performs a delicate balancing act as he's forced
by the authorities to act as a double agent for them, informing on his
associates' plans which the Turks think involves assassination rather
than mere larceny.
The theft itself is imaginative and involved, and undoubtedly inspired
such films as Entrapment and the Thomas Crown flicks.
There are several funny bits, some great locations, and excellent performances
from this veteran cast, and director Jules Dassin's breezy putting together
of this lighthearted romp turns what could have been ponderous into a
pretty enjoyable and entertaining crime flick.
The DVD isn't particulary spectacular, however. It isn't presented in
anamorphic widescreen for one thing, which is a shame. Its original theatrical
aspect ratio is 1.66:1, and this is how it's transferred onto the DVD.
While we applaud keeping the original aspect ratio, as opposed to using
the much inferior Pan&Scan technique that slices the edges off the
picture, we wish someone would come up with a way to present these odd
aspect ratios so they're compatible with the 16x9 TV's that are taking
over the marketplace. As it is, you have to zoom the picture out to fill
the screen, which cuts down substantially on the resolution.
The DVD picture quality is okay, but not really up to the sharpness standards
of which the format is capable, and this gets worse when the picture's
zoomed to fill the wide TV screen. Colors are bright, however, and the
overall picture quality (not surprisingly) still beats the pants off of
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital mono and it's comparable to the
picture quality: okay but not spectacular.
The only extra besides the usual subtitle choices is the original theatrical
Topkapi, from MGM Home Video
119 min. widescreen (1.66:1), not 16x9 TV compatible, Dolby Digital mono
Starring Melina Mercouri, Peter Ustinov, Maximilian Schell, Robert Morley
Written by Monja Danischewsky,
Produced and directed by Jules Dassin
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