Cairo (1963 film)

Cairo is a 1963 American crime film directed by Wolf Rilla and written by Joan LaCour Scott. The film stars George Sanders, Richard Johnson, Faten Hamama, John Meillon, Ahmed Mazhar, Eric Pohlmann and the director's father Walter Rilla. The film was released on August 21, 1963, by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.[1][2][3] The film is a nearly scene-by-scene remake of John Huston's The Asphalt Jungle.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byWolf Rilla
Produced byRonald Kinnoch
Lawrence Bachmann
Screenplay byJoan LaCour Scott
Based onThe Asphalt Jungle
1949 novel
by W. R. Burnett
StarringGeorge Sanders
Richard Johnson
Faten Hamama
John Meillon
Ahmed Mazhar
Eric Pohlmann
Music byKenneth V. Jones
CinematographyDesmond Dickinson
Edited byBernard Gribble
Lawrence P. Bachmann Productions
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • August 21, 1963 (1963-08-21)
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited States


Mastermind Brit criminal Major Pickering arrives in Cairo by air from a Greek prison, on a phony passport. The Major has a foolproof scheme to rob King Tut's jewels, which are displayed in the secure Cairo Museum and worth a quarter of a million dollars.

Through his contact man Nicodemos, the shady casino operator brother of the Major's con artist passport illustrator Greek cellmate, he rounds up a disparate gang to execute the daring heist. The only gang member known to the Major is the reliable countryman and fellow soldier, an explosive expert safe-cracker, Willy (John Meillon), now a family man, marrying native and reluctant to go on the caper until persuaded by a fast $25,000 cut.

Nicodemos gets untrustworthy import-export businessman Kuchuk to finance the caper, while the Major hires lazy coffee shop owner Kerim as driver and his hashish smoking hot-headed gun-wielding small-time stick-up man Ali as his enforcer. Ali looks upon it as his last chance to buy a sugar cane farm in his country birthplace, and pretends to be indifferent to the unconditional love shown to him by the penniless hard-luck nice girl belly dancer Amina.

The boys go through the sewer as planned, but inside the museum an alarm is accidentally triggered and brings the police before they can make a clean escape. It results in Willy being fatally shot and dropped off at home. When the robbers that evening go to exchange the jewels for the money, Kuchuk and his gun wielding accomplice Ghattas pull a double-cross, and in an ensuing shoot-out Ghattas is dead and Ali seriously wounded, with Kuchuk now forced by the Major to make a deal with the police for $200,000 or they will melt down the invaluable jewels.

When the frightened Nicodemos is intimidated by the persistent police commandant and Kuchuk commits suicide, the rest of the gang is rounded up before they can escape from Cairo—with Ali dying in Amina's arms just as they reach by car his father's farm and the Major captured alive when staying too long to admire a belly dancer as the police raid the area.



The film reunited the star, producer and director of Village of the Damned (1960).

Filming took place in mid 1962 and involved location shooting in Cairo.[4] Richard Johnson later recalled "It wasn't a very good film, I'm afraid, but George [Sanders] and I had a lovely time, George entertaining at the piano every night at the Shepheard hotel, overlooking the Nile, and telling the most outrageous stories about his contemporaries in Hollywood."[5]

See also


  1. "Cairo (1963) - Overview -". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
  2. "Cairo". TV Guide. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
  3. CAIRO Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 30, Iss. 348, (Jan 1, 1963): 36.
  4. Sultan and Worth Hit Comedy Jackpot: Brooklyn Boy Wonders Click: Van Johnson Booked in Grove Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times 28 Mar 1962: C13.
  5. Egypt beyond the Pyramids: Richard Johnson crosses the desert from Cairo to Luxor - and discovers a mesmerising nation few tourists glimpse The past is held in this place for ever ... like a fly in amber, Johnson, Richard. Mail on Sunday; London (UK) [London (UK)]09 May 2010: 51.
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