Oscar-nominee Omar Sharif passed away on Friday at the age of 83.
He’s best known for his dramatic work, like his Oscar-nominated performance in “Lawrence of Arabia” and his memorable leading role opposite Julie Christie in “Doctor Zhivago.“
But for some of us, there’s another performance we like to remember when thinking of Sharif. In 1984, the actor starred in cult favourite “Top Secret!,” comic directorsJim Abrahams,David Zucker, andJerry Zucker‘s follow-up to their hit debut film “Aeroplane.”
A parody of the World War II spy movies, the film stars a very young Val Kilmer in his feature film debut as a rock singer who finds himself involved in a rescue mission to save a scientist from an East German prison.
Sharif plays Agent Cedric, who at every turn finds himself the butt of the joke. Like Lloyd Bridges in “Aeroplane,” having a serious actor like Sharif play the role adds to the fun. And Sharif does it perfectly as he performs his part as if he’s in a serious war espionage drama.
In one scene, Sharif’s character, Cedric, hopes to gain intel on the whereabouts of the scientist by talking to an undercover source. To make sure they are on the same side Cedric asks the question: “Do you know any good white basketball players?” The response from the source: “There aren’t any good white basketball players.” He’s found his man.
The scene then unfolds with Cedric playing with the trinkets the source has, as not to draw attention to their secret conversation. But they turn out to be gag gifts. A flower Cedric sniffs shoots water at him, and the cigar he’s offered explodes in his face.
Later in the movie, Agent Cedric shows up again.
Having been double-crossed, he’s been compacted inside his car. He walks to the hotel to tell his comrade of the danger they are in. Disoriented and banging into things, he enters the room as part man-part automobile.
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