Year:                         1969

Director:                    Peter Collinson

Asst Director:             Scott Wodehouse

Producer:                   Michael Deeley

Script:                       Troy Kennedy-Martin

Cinematography:         Douglas Slocombe

Special Effects:           Pat Moore and Ken Morris

Production Design:      Disley Jones

Stunts:                      L'Equipe Remy Julienne

Original Music:            Quincy Jones

Songwriter:                Don Black

 

 

Relatively new at the time, Michael Caine took on the part of Charlie Croker in this typically British comedy about a criminal who has been released from jail and comes across a new job... a job in Italy. But he needs funding, and turns to  Mr Bridger, the undisputed head of the British underworld played by late Noel Coward in his last screen appearance. He plays off Bridger wonderfully to get permission to do the job, to the point of appealing to Bridger's patriotism by pointing out that stealing four million dollars in Italy will help the balance of trade.

 

The late Peter Collinson directs with energy and wit bringing to life what could have been, despite its plot twists, a routine film. Collinson is something of a cult director who died relatively young before he could fulfill his full promise as a director. The Italian Job is one of the most distinctive comedy films in British Cinema History, arriving on the scene as the 1960s were coming to a close and instilling a bright, colourful, energetic outlook onto the British public that was revolutionary at the time as the 'New Wave' cinema era began.

 

Roughly half the film or a bit more is devoted to getting the gang together, including hiring a computer expert [played by Benny Hill] who may be the single most over-the-top element in a film.  Caine gets some greats lines and although a recent poll in Britain voted the line "You were just supposed to blow the bloody *doors* off!" as the best all-time movie line. I don’t agree. The lines about him coming back from Africa after shooting tigers are my favourite. The car attendant remarks about how successful he must have been whilst in Africa (with regard to the tiger hunting)

 

Caine replies ‘ yes I used a machine gun’ oh maybe you have to see it…

 

 

The use of the original Mini Coopers as the getaway cars is also inspired; their small size, excellent handling, good turn of speed and the fact that they were currently being built under license by an Italian firm based in Turin, the setting of the heist, all contribute to the fun of the chase. And the efforts of Remy Julienne and his stunt team certainly don't hurt; the knowledge that all of these stunts were done for real, not by computer imagery, is impressive

 

 

Having originally had a different ending to the film, of the team driving off into sunset, one of the producers came up with the current closure which leaves the film on a cliff-hanger, so to speak; which wasn't supported by the entire crew, but has proved to be a winner. No other film has had such a open and inventive ending as The Italian Job.

 

The film is a perfect example of British inspiration which lead to one of the most influential comedy capers of all time.