Kemal Sunal, A Screen Giant: Part 1


Kemal Sunal (1944-2000) was a Turkish comedy actor and theatre performer. After graduating from high school, he joined a local theatre group where his immense talent was recognised. He was recruited by the Devekusu Theatre in Istanbul and subsequently landed a his first acting role in a movie directed by Ertim Egilmez. After several small parts, he finally landed his first major role in the movie called 'Hababam Sinifi', a movie about a group of misfit boarding school students in which he played a student called 'Saban', who was naive and often taken advantage of. Sunal used the 'Saban' role in many movies. He ended up acting in a total of 87 movies, and was extremely popular due to the roles he would play, which would often echo the concerns of the poor and working class people during difficult times in Turkey, doing so with extreme hilarity. He is known as the greatest and most popular actor to have come from the country. For more information, please see this site: Below is a review of some of his more renowned movies:

Kemal Sunal, 1944-2000 1)

Spoiler Alert: There may be some plot lines revealed below

Movie Reviews (1976-1979)

__Kapicilar Krali (The King of Caretakers) 1976__

In this movie Sunal plays the role of Seyyit, who is the caretaker of an apartment building. Seyyit is seen as crass and uneducated, and is often used and abused by people to their benefit. He has a wife and two children, and they live in the basement of the apartment.

Seyyit is continually tortured by the manager of the apartment building, a cowardly retired army officer who constantly pushes Seyyit to do things that he should be doing, such as intervening in domestic disputes. However, it turns out that Seyyit is not as crass or uneducated as most may think. He is constantly making extra money from various ventures, such as selling imported alcohol, cigarettes and chocolates to the many residents of the apartments, whilst also investing the money that he collects for rent in short term bonds with the old accountant who lives on the top floor.

A couple turn up out of the blue to rent one of the vacant apartments, and Seyyit is instantly enamoured with the beautiful female tenant. They are reluctant to tell anybody what they do for a living, and most of the residents automatically assume that the male tenant is either in the police force or secret service. The new couple actually have a very different agenda; they plan to rob the old accountant who lives on the top floor. They hatch a plan which involves the new female tenant seducing Seyyit so she can get a copy of his master keys.

Watch as Seyyit tries to foil the robbers whilst everyone turns against him, and maybe he will drop a bombshell of his own which will leave the tenants in disbelief. Sunal really shines in this movie which in many ways catapulted his meteoric rise.

__Merakli Kofteci (The Curious Burger Man) 1976__

In this movie Sunal plays Zuhtu, the youngest son of a family from Kayseri, a city in central Anatolia. Zuhtu tries to earn a living selling meatballs and burgers from his stall, and is often bullied and belittled by his family and given very little reward for his efforts. He is always accused of being too curious and sticking his nose into places it doesn't belong.

Zuhtu's boring life is turned upside down when one night he has his stall set up near the bus terminal and he sees a young woman being pursued by several men. As usual his inquisitive nature lands him into trouble as he helps the young woman by helping to conceal her. They manage to elude the pursuers, but unfortunately the young lady has missed her bus. He then tries to help her by taking her to a hotel he knows so she can stay the night and catch a bus in the morning. The young lady says that it was her father and brothers who were chasing her, as they were trying to force her to marry a man that she didn't know.

It turns out that the young lady and her family are from the Black Sea region, called 'Laz' people. Laz people are known to be extremely righteous and will defend their honour at all costs. Before Zuhtu can leave the hotel room, the family of the young lady turn up, and unfortunately assume the worst. Zuhtu is given an ultimatum: marry her and uphold the family honour, or be on the receiving end of one of their sharp daggers.

When Zuhtu's family hears about this new turn of events they are instantly against it. Firstly people from Kayseri hate Laz people, and secondly, Zuhtu is a great money spinner and cash cow for the family and they do not want to lose this income. They deliver their own ultimatum to Zuhtu: If he marries the girl, they will kill him. Zuhtu is no left with nowhere to turn, and hilarity ensues as the two families jostle to get ascendancy.

Eventually the Laz family get their wish and the two are married, but there is a new twist. A lawyer turns up to inform that the young lady has inherited a vast fortune from a relative, making Zuhtu's new wife an instant multi-millionaire. This means that the families now have a change of heart; Zuhtu's family now want him to stay married, so they can get a piece of the fortune, and the Laz family want them to get divorced for the same reason.

Zuhtu must now make the ultimate decision…will he stay married or will he bend to the will of his wifes family? Can he evade all of the people who are now out to get him? There are many twists and turns as Zuhtu struggles with his dilemma, whilst chaos unfolds around him.

__Sut Kardesler (Foster Brothers) 1976__

In this movie, Sunal plays the role of Saban, who is in the navy with his great friend Ramazan. The movie is set during the early years of World War I. The navy ship on which Saban and Ramazan are serving docks at Istanbul, and the officers are awaiting their leave papers. A new general is introduced to the officers, Commander Husamettin. Saban immediately infuriates the commander with his clumsiness and idiocy. At this point Saban receives a letter from his foster mother who has not seen him for 20 years. She has heard that he is docked in Istanbul, and insists that Saban comes to visit her and her her daughter, which is Saban's foster sister. Ramazan sees a picture of Saban's foster sister and immediately falls in love with her.

The officers receive their shore leave passes, and at this point Ramazan hatches a cunning plan. He tricks Saban into swapping leave papers so he can go and meet Saban's foster sister. Ramazan goes to the mansion where his foster mother lives and introduces himself as Saban, and also meets the foster sister, however he is devastated to learn that she is already married. Just as the two are meeting, the foster mother's brother arrives, and this turns out to be Commander Husamettin. Everyone present is instantly scared of his presence, and when he asks who this sailor is, they introduce Ramazan as Bayram, the foster sister's husband. They know that her husband, who is also a sailor, is stationed far away and the commander will only be here for a short time.

To make matters worse, the foster sister's real husband turns up, going awol from the navy due to missing his wife. They then introduce him to the commander as Saban, the foster son. Whilst this is happening, the house is being terrorised at night by a 15 foot tall apparition. The commander decides to stay on to investigate these strange goings on. The plot complicates further when the real Saban arrives at the house. Ramazan quickly hides him in the attic to avoid detection by the commander. All sorts of confusion prevails in the house as the members in the house constantly have to live up to the charade, despite the protests of Bayram.

Watch as the men try and find out who is really behind the apparition and the sinister plot to lay claim to the mansion, all whilst confusion continues to reign and Husamettin is driven crazy by the bungling Saban. Can they solve the mystery, or will it drive them all to the brink? The excellent attention to detail and script is only overshadowed by the excellent cast of comedy actors in this movie.

__Sahte Kabadayi (The Fake Bully) 1976__

In this movie Sunal plays the role of Kemal, who is a seller of sweets at a train station on the outskirts of Istanbul in the 1970's. Kemal is not very intelligent, and is constantly being tricked and ridiculed by those around him. In the meantime, Baba, who is the king of the Istanbul underworld, is betrayed and murdered by his right hand man, Muhtar, at a restaurant. Muhtar is aiming to become the new king and claim the crown of the richest and most powerful in the city. He also tries to get rid of Baba's two closest allies, his lawyer Avukat and strongman Hamdi.

Avukat and Hamdi realise that Muhtar is trying to edge them out so there is no resistance to his succession plan. In desperation the pair remember that Baba had an illegitimate son, Kemal, who was living somewhere near the outskirts of the city. They go on a mission to find this mystery son, and finally track him down at a tea house.

At the tea house, Kemal is there as a local hard man enters to settle scores with some of the clients. Due to his idiocy, Kemal angers the man and the two square off for a fight whilst everyone else at the tea house flee outside. Out of pure luck, the hard man slips over and hits his head, knocking himself out, and the entire crowd outside are in disbelief, including Avukat and Hamdi, who now think that they may have found the solution to getting rid of Muhtar.

After talking to Kemal, the pair quickly realise he is not quite what they expected, he is clearly not the person who can lay claim to his fathers fortune and oust Muhtar. In desperation they decide to teach him the ways of being a gangster, however despite their best efforts Kemal is closer to being a clown than a gangster. As a last ditch attempt, they decide to try anyway. Hilarity ensues as Kemal continually uses blind luck to foil the many assassination attempts by Muhtar, whilst learning a thing or two about being a real gangster along the way.

As Kemal continues to get lucky, will be able to evade Muhtar forever, or will he meet the same fate as his father? Will he finally be able to lay claim to his father's fortune, or will he return to selling sweets at the train station? The only thing for sure is that this movie will leave you laughing and hungry for more Kemal Sunal films.

__Sakar Sakir (Clumsy Sakir) 1977__

In this classic, Sunal plays the role of Sakir, a clumsy and idiotic tea house attendant in central Anatolia. He is constantly cursed by others for causing bad luck to himself and others around him. Sakir's simple life is turned upside down when he learns that his extremely wealthy uncle has passed away, leaving him his entire fortune, which includes shops and apartment buildings. The entire town is jubilant that Sakir is going to leave once and for all so they can live in peace.

Meanwhile in Istanbul, one of Sakir's distant relatives Haci and his wife are plotting to take the entire fortune for themselves. They plan to trick Sakir and get him to sign over everything to their name.

Sakir boards a bus destined for Istanbul, and immediately the occupants are distraught to find that he is on the bus. Sakir sits next to Fuat, a hard man who has just been released from jail and is returning home to Istanbul. For the whole bus trip, Sakir makes Fuat's trip a living nightmare by spilling an entire tub of yoghurt over his head, peeing in his hat, breaking his suitcase and eventually breaking his arm. Fuat however is glad to be finally rid of the cursed Sakir and heads home.

Sakir eventually finds his way to the neighbourhood where his shop and apartment buildings are located, and decides to start running his delicatessen. Haci's wife is at the shop at the time, and is shocked to see Sakir turn up unexpectedly. She rushes to find her husband, and in the meantime Sakir decides it is a good idea to make everything free for the day, so that he can attract new customers. Word quickly spreads, and soon the whole neighbourhood has queued to get their free goods. By the time Haci and his wife return, almost everything is gone.

Haci decides that the only way to get rid of Sakir is to get him to sign a blank piece of paper so that he can take everything. He tells Sakir that he will stay around in order to teach him the ropes. He speaks to one of his female tenants who owe him rent so that she can seduce him and persuade him to sign the paper. He sends Sakir to her apartment saying that it is vacant. He goes to the apartment and whilst he is there with the female tenant, her boyfriend arrives home – which hilariously turns out to be Fuat. Sakir hides and narrowly escapes Fuat, and returns to sleep at his delicatessen.

Fuat keeps pursuing Sakir, but he continues to elude him. Haci then tries a different tactic, he employs Fuat to help him get rid of Sakir by making him sign a truce, which is a blank piece of paper. Fuat pursues Sakir yet again, but falls into the ocean whilst trying to do so. Sakir saves his life, and the two finally become friends.

The movie progresses but will Sakir find out about his uncle's deceitful plan, or will he be tricked out of his fortune? Will Fuat remain Sakir's friend or will he drive him insane yet again? The only thing that is assured is that there will be many laughs and maybe a surprising twist at the end.

__Sabanoglu Saban (Saban, Son of Saban) 1977__

In arguably his funniest movie, Sunal again plays the role of Saban. The movie is set at the end of the Ottoman Empire and at the beginning of World War I. Saban and his good friend Ramazan are in soldiers fighting on the front line of battle. Their commander Husamettin, gets shot in the leg during battle and it is up to Saban and Ramazan to carry him to the infirmary. The bumbling pair cannot even work out how to carry a stretcher, much to the dismay and suffering of their commander.

Saban continues to make Husamettin's life hell by his incompetence and naivety. He injures him on several occasions and finally Husamettin is fed up and decides to shoot Saban. Just as he is about to shoot, messengers bring news that there is a ceasefire and that all personnel are to be released. Husamettin warns Saban never to cross him during civilian life, otherwise he will finish the job.

After they are released from the army, Saban and Ramazan find jobs as instrument players in an music ensemble at a tavern in Istanbul. They both instantly fall in love with a singer who is performing at the tavern. They both decide to go up to her change room and declare their undying love, so that she can choose one of them. They enter her room and start talking to her, but before they can get to the point, her boyfriend arrives, who is one of the most wanted criminals in Istanbul.

When he sees them in his girlfriends room, he is infuriated and charges at Saban and Ramazan however they step away just before he gets to them and falls out of the window to the pavement below. The police arrive and catch the criminal, making Saban and Ramazan instant heroes. The police commissioner summons the pair offers them a job as undercover policeman. The commissioner sends the pair to meet the chief of police, who is the commissioners son in law, which turns out to be Husamettin. He is dismayed at meeting Saban again, but is unable to shoot him due to his father in law.

In the meantime, Husamettin and the commissioner are at their house, along with their relatives and servants. The commissioner's sister has a prized possession; a very large diamond. The family urge her to show them the diamond, and she relents and agrees. Whilst they are all admiring it, the lights go out and back on again, but the diamond has disappeared. Everyone is puzzled as to what has happened, and Husamettin immediately starts to investigate. After being unable to find any clues, the commissioner is fed up and decides to assign his two newest undercover policeman to the job.

Saban and Ramazan use a disguise to enter the house, and start their investigation. The pair are again in competition as they both vie for the affection of one of the servant girls, Selma. The incompetent pair bungle their way through the investigation with no result.

The movie goes on as Saban and Ramazan try and uncover the mystery of the diamond. Saban continues to drive Husamettin crazy whilst vying for the attention of Selma, and maybe the singers boyfriend will make a come back to cause problems for all. One thing that is assured that there will be no shortage of laughs and twists in this classic.

__Iyi Aile Cocugu (Son from a Good Family) 1978__

This movie is mainly set in Istanbul during the 1970's. Sunal stars as twins in this movie. The movie starts with a group of armed men storming a house and gunning down a family due to a blood feud. The gunmen however are reluctant to kill the identical baby twins that are there, so they take each child to the opposite side of Istanbul and leave them on the steps of a mosque.

Each child is found by visitors to the mosque, and adopted. The first child, Kemal, is adopted by a office worker and is schooled and raised to become a bank teller, but is somewhat naïve and shy. The second child, Cemal, is adopted by a crime boss, and grows up on the streets learning from his adopted father. The two however share a bond. On certain occasions one of the twins can feel and replicate what the other is doing or feeling at the time, usually in the most awkward moments.

Kemal advances his career and becomes the head bank teller at his local branch, whilst Cemal takes over his adopted fathers business. One day Kemal is working at his usual window when a group of men enter and try to rob it. On the other side of the city, Cemal is involved in a shootout with a rival gang. Kemal gets an unusual streak of bravery and distracts the would be bank robbers long enough until the police arrive and arrest them. Kemal instantly becomes a hero, and receives a promotion which will see him become the head teller at the main branch of his bank.

He travels to the city and is invited to stay with a close friend of his adopted father. The friend has several children, including two older daughters who are immediately excited that such a hero would come and stay with them. The two girls are completely disappointed however when they realise how shy Kemal is. Kemal arrives at work and is greeted by the management and assigned a personal assistant, Oya. Kemal is completely smitten with Oya, however struggles to string more than a few words together.

The other employees at the bank are also completely surprised and disappointed with the man that is their new boss, and the initial excitement disappears. Meanwhile Cemal is growing his criminal empire, despite the fact that there are several rival gangs looking to bring him down. One day Cemal's girlfriend spots Kemal walking with Oya and assumes that Cemal is cheating on her, due to the identical appearance. When she confronts Cemal, he decides to investigate.

Cemal stakes out the bank for a few days and collects all the information about Kemal. He has learnt that Kemal has the keys to the main vault, and that they do a count at the end of each month. He also learns that there is going to be a assassination attempt at an upcoming party, so he hatches a plan. He will take Kemal's spot at the bank, gaining access to the vault whilst also sending Kemal to the party in his stead.

One morning Cemal's men abduct Kemal, and lock him up in an abandoned cellar, whilst Cemal goes to work in his place. The employees at the bank are stunned as the shy and bashful Kemal has become arrogant and confident overnight. The same thing happens at the house he is staying at, the shy Kemal now wants to go and party with the girls.

Cemal's men take Kemal to the party, however there is a hitch for the assassins. A large shipment of drugs is coming in, and they won't do a deal unless Cemal is involved. They take Kemal to the meeting, but he completely ruins the deal. They take Kemal back to his cellar and wait until the end of the month for the bank robbery. Cemal's men decide that they have been in his shadow too long, and decide to rob and kill him during the robbery.

Kemal overhears the plot and decides that he must take matters into his own hands. He finds a way to escape his locked cellar and sets out to try and find Cemal before it's too late. He confronts Cemal and they are both extremely startled at how much they look alike. Kemal tells Cemal about what he overheard, and the two notify the authorities bout what his men were planning to do.

Watch the drama and laughs unfold as the two brothers join forces to face the new robbers, whilst their fathers arrive and throw a spanner in the works. Sunal is superb as usual in both roles and the script and screenplay are also first class.

__Kibar Feyzo (Polite Feyzo) 1978__

In this movie, Sunal plays the role of Feyzo, a poor villager from the south east region of Turkey. His village is ruled by a tyrannical landowner, Maho. Maho makes life very difficult for his villagers. He makes them work on his crops and pays them only in food, whilst also making decisions about who can live in his village and who can get married. Feyzo lives with his mother and is deeply in love with a local village girl, Gulo.

Feyzo is not alone though, he is in competition for her hand in marriage by another villager, Bilo. Feyzo and Bilo both return from conscription at the same time, along wit h the money that they have saved, which will be used as a dowry which is to be paid to Gulo's father. After getting the permission from Maho, both Feyzo and Bilo take their families to speak to Gulo's father and ask for her hand in marriage.

Feyzo's mother does not want him to marry Gulo, she would rather use the money to buy a bull. He cannot convince her so he hatches a plan to make her change mind. He pretends that he has lost his mind, and pays the local priest some money to tell his mother that the only way he will be cured is by marrying Gulo.

Gulo's father however has realised that there is competition for his daughter, and decides to invite both families at once. The conversation soon turns into a bidding war, with Feyzo offering the most money. There is a catch though as Feyzo does not have enough money up front, so he and Gulo's father go to a notary to draw up a monthly payment plan. If Feyzo cannon pay his instalments in time, Gulo's father will take her back and then make her marry Bilo.

Feyzo realises that he cannot make enough money working in the village, so he decides to set off to the city to find work. He does all sorts of different jobs and finally scrapes up enough money to pay his first instalment so he returns to his village. After paying Gulo's father the instalment, he decides to utilise some of the things he has learnt in the city in the village so he can make some extra money.

Each time he does this though, Maho sees the modern ideas as a challenge to his authority as he would rather see the villagers remain uneducated and reliant upon him. He banishes Feyzo from the village on several occasions but then decides that he causes more trouble that way so he stops banishing him. Feyzo tries several different methods, such as peeing in his pool so he can get banished in order to earn some more money, but each time Maho stands defiant.

The two continue to jostle to try and gain ascendency, however this cannot last which leads to a final unavoidable confrontation. Can Feyzo finally help the village gain some semblance of equality, or will Maho and his authority win the day? This movie is one of Sunal's all time great performances and should not be missed.

__Sark Bulbulu (Country Song Bird) 1979__

In this movie Sunal stars as Saban, a poor forest ranger from a village in south eastern Turkey. Saban is living happily in his village, trying to save up money so he can marry his long time love, Hatice. To do so, Saban needs to pay her father a dowry, He earns his money by catching poachers cutting down trees in the forest owned by the landowner of the village and keeping the fines that he gives them. His well laid plans are upset though when the landowner of the village decides to sell up to a new landowner.

The new landowner does not like Saban at all, and also has his eye on his would be bride. He catches Saban taking bribes and uses this as an opportunity to banish him from the village. Saban decides that this may be a good opportunity to earn some money, and he goes to the big city to find his distant cousin who is a manager of a large hotel.

Saban arrives in the city and finds the hotel, but his cousin no longer works there. It turns out that his cousin was only a dishwasher at the hotel and not the manager, and has moved on to another job. This leaves Saban alone in the city with no money, nowhere to stay and not knowing a soul. After aimlessly wandering around the city for many days, he is finally able to track down his cousin, who is now a dishwasher at a restaurant that hosts live music.

He asks his cousin for a job, but unfortunately there is no work. At that moment some bouncers bring in a large man who looks to have been beaten up. The man collapses and is out cold, so this gives Saban's cousin an idea. He tells him he may have a job, but it might not quite be what he is expecting. Saban is desperate for work so he decides to take it on. They take him into the office of the owner of the establishment, Fethi. He takes a look at Saban and comments that he looks a little skinny, but Saban's cousin assures him that he is strong and resilient.

At that moment Fethi receives a phone call informing him that the lead act for that night has not shown up. He immediately complains about having a headache and for his men to bring Saban closer. It turns out that whenever Fethi is stressed out, he needs to beat someone up, and Saban is the replacement for the previous man. Saban is unaware that his role was to get beaten up, so he fights back. Fethi actually enjoys this, and realises that he actually gets over his stress quicker when he is beaten up instead.

Fethi soon warms to Saban, and they become friends. One night Fethi is hosting a party where Saban is helping out by serving drinks. Saban hears some music and starts to sing, and all of the people at the party are stunned by this incredible voice. Fethi offers Saban a spot at his hotel, and soon after he has all of the record companies chasing his signature. Saban becomes an intstant superstar, and his music is played all over the country.

Watch the movie unfold as Saban becomes the target of assassination attempts by rivals, is chased by many different females and becomes richer than his wildest dreams. Will he finally get to marry his sweetheart and challenge the authority of the landowner, or will he succumb to the temptations of the big city?

__Korkusuz Korkak (Brave Coward) 1979__

In this movie Sunal plays Mulayim, a poor office worker in Istanbul. Mulayim is constantly struggling to make ends meet, he earns barely enough to pay for his rent and lives in a dilapidated apartment on the edge of the city. Due to the distance he has to travel, he is constantly late to work and his manager is always taking money out of his pay to compensate. The manager also bullies Mulayim, and gets him to do most of his work. His fellow employees in the office also take advantage of him, piling work on his desk whenever they have the chance.

Despite all this, Mulayim stays quiet and cannot afford to lose his job. He is also very conscious about his health, always eating healthy and taking his vitamins. Mulayim is looking forward to the results of his general medical examination, and he plans to eat whatever he wants when he gets the all clear.

Mulayim arrives at his doctor and is asked to take a seat in his office. The doctor informs Mulayim that unfortunately he is very ill and only has three months to live. Mulayim is amazed and cannot believe that after living so healthily he could be so sick. He leaves the doctors offices in shock and proceeds to go home. The next patient enters the doctors office, barely able to walk and looking deathly ill. The doctor informs him that he is perfectly healthy, and all the results were great. The doctor is surprised however when the patient dies in the office. At that moment a nurse rushes into the office and informs the doctor that the results had been mixed up and Mulayim was actually perfectly healthy. The doctor and nurse try to find Mulayim, however his address has changed and they cannot get hold of him. The doctor then sends the nurse to find Mulayim at all costs.

Totally distraught and still in shock, Mulayim walks back into his neighbourhood where he finds a crowd gathered. It turns out that someone has left a suspicious package, most likely a bomb, near one of the buildings. Without a second though Mulayim goes and picks up the bomb, he does not fear death as he is going to die soon anyway, and proceeds to walk away with it. Somewhat disappointed that it didn't blow up, he throws it into a ditch where it goes off with a large bang. Mulayim is instantly lauded a hero and his whole neighbourhood praise him.

Mulayim's reputation grows and soon he is known as a man who fears no death. He starts to become the king of his office, and even starts to collect protection money from local gangsters. He soon realises that he cannot idly wait to die, so he decides to hire a contract killer to have himself killed. He finds a man called Selim who is the middle man, and insists that he does not want to know the identity of the contract killer, and for it to be a surprise. Selim agrees and soon after notifies Mulayim that he has found just the man for the job.

The nurse eventually finds Mulayim and explains the mix up at the doctors office. Mulayim is now in a bit of a jam, as he has a contract killer that he doesn't know the identity of trying to kill him. He and the nurse decide to go and see Selim so that he can cancel the contract. They find Selim outside his office, but before they can get to him he is hit by a bus and is killed. Several of the local gangsters have also decided to do away with Mulayim, and there is a race to be the first to find and kill him.

Can Mulayim find a way out of the mess, or will he be the victim of his own contract killing? The only thing that is sure is that there is no shortage of laughs in this hilarious and original movie which Sunal executes brilliantly.


QR Code
QR Code kemal_sunal_a_screen_giant_-_part_1 (generated for current page)