The Greek Culture Ministry declared 2020 the Year of Melina Mercouri, in honor of what would have been the internationally known actress, singer, politician and one-woman tourist ambassador’s 100th birthday on Oct. 18, and the 17th San Francisco Greek Film Festival is on board, presenting one of her classic films for a drive-in audience.
Mercouri (1920-94) had her biggest hit in 1964 with the colorful international comedy caper “Topkapi.” The breezy, “Ocean’s Eleven”-like heist film is directed by Mercouri’s husband at the time, American Jules Dassin, who was spoofing his own landmark heist film from 10 years earlier, “Rififi.”
The bright Technicolor of “Topkapi” should pop on the drive-in screen at 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4, at Par 3 at Poplar Creek in San Mateo. Otherwise, the S.F. Greek Film Festival runs online — for free — Saturday, Oct. 3, through Saturday, Oct. 10.
The movie also stars Robert Morley, Maximilian Schell and Peter Ustinov and features an astounding heist scene that influenced Tom Cruise’s invasion of CIA headquarters in his first “Mission: Impossible” movie. Christopher Nolan also considers “Topkapi” a personal favorite.