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Peppe, formerly a boxer, organizes the break-in of a pawnshop. Tiberio, an unemployed photographer, Mario, a receiver, the Sicilian Michele and Capannelle, an ex-jockey, are the other members of the gang. Though they are advised by Dante, a retired burglar, the task is not so easy... Written by
Mario Monicelli wanted to call its movie "Le Madame", and only in a second moment changed it into "I Soliti Ignoti" (Usual Unknowns). Le Madame is an Italian slang for Policemen. See more »
Tell me, do you know a guy called Mario who lives around here?
Boy playing soccer:
There are a thousand Marios around here.
Yes, but this one is a thief.
Boy playing soccer:
There are still a thousand.
See more »
An ensemble movie with multiple minor stories built around the main theme of a big heist on Madonna Street. Half a dozen or so hapless crooks decide to apply "scientific methods" to their plan to sneak through coal chutes and over rooftops into a vacant apartment. They will then use a car jack to break through a wall into the office next door where a fortune is stashed away in a safe. That's about as far as medical discretion will allow me to go in revealing the plot.
There have been many carefully planned caper movies, before and after this one, like "The Asphalt Jungle." Some have even been turned into comedies, like Woody Allan's "Small Time Crooks." But this was one of the first I'm aware of that turned the caper movie into a ridiculous farce.
I think I'll give one example of the kind of gags you can expect, to illustrate the style. To get to the vacant apartment the thieves must tiptoe across a skylight in the middle of the night and climb through a window on the other side. They are slipping along the metal framework, cursing each other, when suddenly blinding lights go on in the room underneath them and they must throw themselves flat on the glass to avoid detection. A young couple enter the room below and begin a loud argument about whether she really loves him and whether he's been unfaithful to her. The accusations are shouted back and forth, while 10 feet above them the immobilized gang alternately doze and gesture impatiently at one another as their carefully plotted timetable is all shot to hell.
Well, alright, one more. One of the gang, a master photographer, Marcello Maistroianni, is assigned to make a movie of the opening of the safe, shooting from across the rooftops through an open window, so the combination will be registered on film. The gang watch the resulting film and moan while pairs of underpants on a clothesline drift across the office window and there are inserts of the photographer's baby crying. At the moment the combination is to be revealed the film stutters and slips off its sprockets.
I can't help it. Stop me before I describe more. Okay -- last one. Two men have an argument in which a knife is produced. They fling angry insults back and forth, and one of them departs, slamming the wooden door behind him. The remaining man sneers at the door and hurls the knife at it. The knife doesn't stick, it bounces off.
It's really impossible to recommend this too highly. What a lot of fun.
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