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The Italian Job

Director: Peter Collinson / Script: Troy Kennedy-Martin / DoP: Douglas Slocombe / Editor: John Trumper / Music: Quincy Jones

CastMichael Caine / Noel Coward / Benny Hill / Irene Handl / John Le Mesurier / Raf Vallone / Rossano Brazzi

Year1969

‘The Brussels’ Job’ didn’t scan… 

 


T
he late Sixties. A moment in the collective British experience, where everything felt possible: The World Cup! The White Heat of Technology! The Beatles & The Stones, for Chrissakes!

If ever there was a movie that bottled that heady sense of possibility, then it’s surely The Italian Job.

It’s a movie with spunk. Bravado. Swagger. Mini Coopers. ‘Birds’. Michael Caine was never Cainier as when he played Charlie Croker and I still haven’t mentioned Noel Coward in support as suave Über-lag Mr. Bridger. Or Benny Hill, playing, err, Benny Hill (he’s actually billed as Professor Peach, but who cares?). Or a bunch of likeable Cockney lads, playing… Well, you get the idea.

The plot? For the few who don’t know by now, it’s about creating a traffic jam. In Turin of all places; a city awash with footie fans arriving for a big match. And… there’s a newly-arrived delivery of bullion that has to be driven through. What are the odds against it arriving? More importantly, what are the odds in getting away with it?

Toss-in an enduring score by Quincy Jones, an endlessly quotable script by Troy Kennedy Martin and have it directed with assured pace by Peter Collinson, who threw his stunt drivers onto the test track on the roof of FIAT’s Lingotto factory, into sewers and over weirs in pursuit of that bleedin’ bus.

Caine would play another villain two years later, in Get Carter: a darker glimpse of the collective psyche that was always there of course, but held in-check by 1966 and all that. Sure, there are issues. From the perspective of 2017, the sexism is overpowering, caricatures too-broad-brush and the ending’s still… Too much of a cliff-hanger. But these are mere quibbles, right?

Nearly fifty-years on, Italian Job has morphed into its own self preservation society.

I can’t see the pointless remake starring Mark Wahlberg ever getting a commemorative re-release, can you, Dear Reader?

I hope he likes spaghetti. They serve it four times a day in the Italian prisons…

Triple Word / Score:   Minis! / Caine! / Chutzpah! / Eight

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