Cinema Slueth – The Italian Job

Stars: 4.5 / 5

Recommendation:  A cultural masterpiece with British satire and comedy mixed in while show casing a well-pulled heist, and giving us treat to one of the best car chases ever in an action film. Not to forget, definitely promoted Mini Coppers.

The Italian Job is a 1969 British comedy caper film produced by Michael Deeley, directed by Peter Collinson and released by Paramount Pictures. The film stars Sir Michael Caine, Noel Coward, Maggie Blye, Tony Beckley, Raf Vallone and Benny Hill in the lead. The film plot was written by Troy Kennedy Martin.

Charlie Croker (portrayed by Sir Michael Caine) is hired to steal a cache of gold bullion being transported from Turin, Italy. He forms a gang with his girl friend Lorna (portrayed by Maggie Blye), and other experts for the heist such as Professor Simon Peach (portrayed by Benny Hill), Mr. Bridger (portrayed by Noel Coward), and Camp Freddie (portrayed by Tony Beckley). The story follows the heist.

I have watched the 2003 American heist action film The Italian Job several times. But I never knew that it was a remake of this much famous 1969 version.

Sir Michael Caine in his younger movies is very charismatic just like how we see him now. I have seen only his movies since 90s or 2000s, so seeing his younger version delighted me. Surprisingly we don’t see a single scene in the film that shows Caine actually driving a car. At the time of the filming Sir Michael Caine didn’t know how to drive a car.

Noel Coward as Mr. Bridger is seen to have special privileges in the jail. Even the guards cater to him. His health was failing at the time of the filming, so his longtime companion and partner Graham Payn had a cameo role as Bridger’s assistant Keats, to help him out.

Benny Hill of The Benny Hill Show fame portrays the role of Professor Simon Peach. He brings his slapstick comedy and double entendre with this role in this film as well.

The soundtrack for the film was composed by Quincy Jones. Some of the famous songs from the film were:

On Days Like These sung by Matt Monro with lyrics by Don Black is heard over the opening credits.

And Getta Bloomin’ Move On (aka The Self-Preservation Society) during the climactic car chase, which featured Caine among its singers.

The film has become a cult symbol of British filmography since. The film’s cliffhanger ending and Caine’s famous dialogue (“You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!”) have become a cult feature followed by several movies in the future. The film also lead to several parodies across TV shows and Cartoon films; and referenced in may films and TV shows too. The film also contains several improvisations done by actors.

The ending was purposefully left in a literal cliffhanger opening for a possible sequel. There is not a clear ending to the film. In 2008 the Royal Society of Chemistry had also held a competition for a solution to the cliffhanger.

One cannot forget the amazing car chase scenes involving three mini coopers – red, white and blue. All devised by stuntman Julenne Remy – a brilliant coordinator for several action packed films including six James Bond movies.  Here is part of the famous car chase scene in question from this film.

A cultural masterpiece with British satire and comedy mixed in while show casing a well-pulled heist, and giving us treat to one of the best car chases ever in an action film. Not to forget, definitely promoted Mini Coppers.

Spoiler Alerts:

Movie Trivia:

  1. This was the final film of Noel Coward before he retired from acting. He was director Peter Collinson’s real-life godfather.
  2. This was remade in 2003 with the same title starring Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Edward Norton, Jason Statham, Seth Green, Mos Def, and Donald Sutherland.
  3. The 2003 The Italian Job was remade in 2012 as Players, an Indian Hindi-language action thriller film starring Abhishek Bachchan, Bobby Deol, Vinod Khanna, Sonam Kapoor, Bipasha Basu, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Sikandar Kher and Omi Vaidya.
  4. Sir Michael Caine objected to the US version of the film poster as it didn’t depict the movie or sent the wrong message to American audiences.

5. Henry McGee portrays the role of Charlie’s tailor, a cameo appearance at the beginning of the film. He was a regular member of The Benny Hill Show, almost appearing in every single episode along side Benny Hill.

6. When Charlie Crocker gets out of jail, his girlfriend is waiting for him with a car to drive him home, Charlie mentions that the car belongs to Pakistani Ambassador. The actual car was owned by the Ambassador of Pakistan when this movie was produced.

7. Mr. Bridger is obsessed with The Queen – Queen Elizabeth II. His prison room walls are completely filled with pictures of the Queen.

8. The number plates on the three Minis have a reference to the movie. The red Mini has the number “HMP 729G”, this is “Her Majesty’s Prison” and Charlie Croker’s prison number. The white Mini is “GPF 146G”, this is Grand Prix flag as referred to by Birkinshaw (portrayed by Fred Emney). The blue Mini is “LGW 809G”, and refers to the flight number that the gang planned to take originally. “LGW” refers to London Gatwick and the flight number.

9. Director Peter Collinson’s wife Lisa Shane has a cameo appearance as the blonde wife of the visiting American at Signor Altabani’s dinner.

10. Director Peter Collinson can be seen in two cameo appearances in the film: One as the person who closes the sewer tunnel after the minis pass thru. Second one as the man clinging to the rear door when the mini coopers are entering the bus at high speed.

Grammatical / Historical / Location / Character Errors:

  1. When Croker is testing the mini coopers for the heist, the cars on the side of the fast track are different between back to back scene.
  2. When the Mafia is set to destroy Croker’s cars on the mountain road, we can clearly see that they were not the same cars as the ones Croker and his partners drove up. The red Jaguar is already missing it’s left-side headlight.

3. When the mini Coopers go up the roof of the Palavela, an indoor arena, the red car goes on the right, white car goes straight and the blue car goes to the left. When they are coming down the red and blue cars are in the opposite sides than how they went up.

4. During the escape, Altabani asks his henchmen to check all the departures at Linanto and Malpensa. The robbery is in Turin, Linanto and Malpensa are the airports for Milan.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: