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Flying Saucers over Istanbul

Entry updated 18 September 2023. Tagged: Film.

Turkish film (1955; original title Ucan Daireler Istanbulda). Birsel Film. Directed and written by Orhan Erçin. Cast includes Orhan Erçin, Mirella Monro, Zafer Önen, Türkan Samil and Özcan Tekgül. 73 minutes. Black and white.

A lonely hearts club for rich but unattractive women hires belly-dancers to lure potential husbands to the venue; they are delighted when two men turn up, but the men are Sapsal (Önen) and Kasar (Erçin), a journalist and photographer, only there to research an article. Returning to their newspaper's office, they are berated by the editor for not getting anything on a recent spate of UFO sightings, so sneak into an observatory and overhear the astronomers discuss and dismiss the flying saucer reports. When the Scientists leave, Kasar fiddles with the radio and talks to a woman asking for a place to land. A flying saucer duly settles by the observatory and a Robot gets out, followed by a group of women in leotards.

Led by their Queen (Samil), these Aliens are looking for men to take back to their home planet (see Clichés; Sex): they carry a Man Detector, which confirms Sapsal is a man, but not Kasar; however after adjustments the device identifies him as being exceptionally manly, which delights the aliens. The Queen and the spaceship's captain (Tekgül) explain they're 500 and 400 respectively, as they use an elixir that keeps them young and vigorous for a thousand years (see Rejuvenation). Sapsal and Kasar take a bottle, promising to return with more men, but actually planning to sell the elixir to the women at the lonely hearts club. However, they lose it and return to the UFO for more, whereupon Sapsal is attacked by the robot: Kasar goes inside the craft to ask the Queen for help. This she does, but not before administrating the crew's dose of elixir – a procedure incorporating a prolonged exotic dance. Shortly after, the captain performs an erotic dance for our heroes, then gives them two bottles and tells them to bring back more men. They return to the club and sell the elixir, but this is one that makes everyone dance, including Marilyn Monroe (Monro), invited there to attract more men. The aliens – who have been monitoring events on a screen – arrive and freeze everyone (see Stasis Field), disparage Marilyn and take Sapsal and Kasar back to their Spaceship: the astronomers watch the flying saucer depart, see Sapsal being kissed and Kasar writing "bis Merihee gidiy ruz" ("we are on the way to Merihee") on the porthole, before being embraced himself.

Sapsal and Kasar seem to be modelled on the likes of Abbot and Costello and the Three Stooges, but lack the speed and skill of these teams' verbal and physical back and forth, with the Humour, such as it is, suffering accordingly: matters are not helped by giving Kasar a stutter. Overall the acting is poor, though the UFO captain does have some presence: she is also armed with a multi-purpose Ray Gun whose powers vary according to the situation. The budget seems to have been tiny, so the low quality of the special effects is excusable, save perhaps for the woeful robot. It is not clear whether the frequent dance set pieces are there to pad out the Sapsal and Kasar story or if the reverse is true; as at one point a split screen is used so Marilyn Monroe can be seen performing in two different costumes, the latter might be the case.

In genre terms, Flying Saucers over Istanbul is mainly of interest as the earliest surviving Turkish sf movie (not counting the Vampire-themed Drakula Istanbul'da [1953]). It might even be the first: see the Turkey entry for further discussion of early Cinema in that country. [SP]


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