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In a sense I was disappointed to find that I actually liked The Italian
Job. For after decades of imitations and student new-lad pub bores
crowbarring "You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!" into
conversation, I was all prepared to hate it.
Yet The Italian Job is a good film. A very good film in fact. First-class direction, all pans and upshot angles, and slyly political, though its "Cool Britannia" ethos almost seems to parody devotees of the Union Jack. Anyone watching this film for reconfirmation of the Empire is mistaken, though the team's final downfall notably comes from the only non-Caucasian member.
The humour is self-conscious, but never so that it goes too far; it's always witty. Michael Caine is the archetype Michael Caine, all pointing finger and raised-voice declarations, the version mimics love to portray. Noël Coward is able support in a straightish role, though the wonderful Benny Hill parodies his own image, thus diluting his already fine (And misunderstood) ironic take on the sexual pervert.
Screen realism is not an issue here, with a Mafia cameo who are hardly Don Corleone. Women are also marginalised, with only Maggie Blye getting a largish role as Caine's girlfriend, Lorna. This is the same girlfriend who hires six women to help celebrate his release from prison, and refers to fellow womankind as "birds". Yet while the film is a "boys only" club, it's far from a testosterone-led car chase, as Coward's appearance should attest. And what makes the final climatic chase so rewarding is that it's carefully, and intelligently, set up. The film is metaphorical where you wouldn't expect it to be, and well-acted all round.
All of which leaves me struggling for a way to end this review. Hang on a minute, lads, I've got an idea -
The Italian Job is one of the best-loved British classics ever made.
Most people in my home country of Britain have seen the film many times
(most of those times spent drinking tea and speaking like the queen, of
course), but there's more than enough for audiences from other
countries to like about this delightful thriller as well. As you almost
certainly already know, The Italian Job stars Michael Caine as the
criminal at the centre of the job, dubbed 'The Italian Job' (would you
believe). Caine is iconic in this film; his voice and mannerisms are
often imitated, and it is this film that is probably most responsible
for that. The plot follows Charlie Croker (Caine), a freshly released
crook that, with a tip off from a deceased friend, decides to steal £4
million from Italy. However, it's not an easy job and there are many
risks involved, so the job must be astutely planned and flawlessly
executed for it to work right - and it is there that the film really
The Italian Job is well remembered for two things, the first of which is the Mini's. This is the film that made Mini's cool, so as you might expect, there is a fair amount of stunt work involving the Mini, a lot of which is truly spectacular - these little cars can be seen driving up stairs, onto and across roofs, through shopping centres, flying over various chasms etc and it's all very exciting. The second thing that it is remembered for is, of course, the line - "you were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!", which is one of the most quoted of all time. The film's impact on popular culture has been immense, and that line's impact in particular is legendary; people that don't know the film know that line, and I dare say that a lot of them quote it even. It's up there with 'I'll be back' or 'that' line from Dirty Harry. The film also highlights a lot of British culture, most notably the reaction to something going right. English patriotism is a little different to the American version - while in America, the whole country may be united under the stars and stripes, very apple pie-like; England is much more content to chant a little inside of a prison. I know which version I prefer.
I could waffle on all day about this film, but we've both got better things to do, I'm sure so I'll finish by commenting on the ending; which is, simply, sublime and a perfect way to end the film; funny, well executed and absolutely genius. Well played.
Now this is more like it! Having bought this movie (and getting the
wretched 2003 remake free with it), I waited until last night before I
refreshed my memory. And despite being more than thirty years older, it
scoops up the remake in a snowplough and tosses it down the side of a
mountain. This is the superior film and not just because of the whole
Michael Caine plays Charlie Croker, a lovable cheeky Cockney rogue who is given plans for the biggest gold heist of the century after being released for prison. Assembling his finest team of experts, the group head off to Italy to pull off the seemingly-impossible - steal $4'000'000 worth of gold from under the noses of the Italian Mafia and escape through the crowded streets of Turin and dash for the Swiss border. Only, it's not as easy as that...
Caine shines as Croker, turning what could have been a dark character into this almost comedic gem. He has all the best lines for the simple reason that nobody else comes close. Even the great Noel Coward seems to be sleep-walking in his role as Mr Bridger, Croker's Imperialistic mentor who's still behind bars. So the first half of the film belongs to Caine which is just as well because the Mini's steal the second half. Like "From Dusk Til Dawn", this is a movie with a definite switch halfway through as the cars take over and leave the audience struggling to remember anything from the first half.
And even so long after the initial release, the Mini Coopers are still mind-blowing to watch. By far and away the most inventive part of the film, the car chase is what everybody remembers and rightly so. It is a shame because the build-up to the heist is rather funny. This isn't a serious crime movie - no dour detectives or rainy city scenes here. This film is bright, colourful and a joy to watch, even if you will have forgotten the first half by the end of it. And what an ending, possibly the greatest cliffhanger of all time. Literally.
There is much to admire about "The Italian Job". It's an amusing crime caper, a family version of "Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels", which has plenty to involve young and old. It also harks back to a time when it was great to be British - we had won the World Cup, we had the Beatles and the Rolling Stones blazing a new trail throughout the world. We had flower power and the summer of Love. Watching this film, it is impossible for any Englishman to not feel his blood pumping in patriotic fervour. The characters, the story, the cars, the annoyingly catchy soundtrack - everything is geared towards celebrating England and poo-pooing the rest of the world. And quite frankly, it's about time too! Forget "Austin Powers" - this is the real Swinging Sixties and it's just groovy, baby!
So who can NOT like The Italian Job? Well, I can't speak for those who are not Anglophiles, but I suspect everybody who has ever called themselves British will love it. Sure, it has holes the size of Matron's stockings in it's plot and there are any number of errors apparant in the script and screenplay (Well, we all know that Mini's don't have a rear differential) and the true fanatics (such as myself) are all too aware of the continuity on-screen (that was a heavily disguised Lancia Flaminia that went off the cliff- Well, did you really think it was a REAL Aston DB4? See "Hammer House" for where that turned up). I could go on, as I usually do, about inconsitencies and so forth, but, by God, I have seen the Italian Job in just about every format it was ever shown and I love it all the same. There are no slow parts, every bit is important to the plot, the soundtrack is legendary (only available now after many, many years on CD. Got it before it was on CD and cost a lot; typical!) and is so quotable ("You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!") as to haunt Michael Caine forever more. You'll love it, wherever you come from!
Troy Kennedy Martin, its scriptwriter, has described the central
significance of the mini cooper in Peter Collinson's cult heist movie.
Perkily speeding through the streets of Turin, it represents the then New
Britain: `laddish, self-confident and not taking itself too seriously'. The
image of the weaving, dodging, red white and blue cars is the film's abiding
one. Outside of their use in the prolonged escape scenes, and several
splendid comic moments elsewhere, it remains entertaining, even if
Often seen as a quintessential sixties' movie, The Italian Job' is more precisely a definition (or one definition) of Britishness as an optimistic nation at the height of a chic decade. In this atmosphere, pulling a job or a bird is practically a national duty. Robbery is considered by Croker and Bridger as a means to `help with the country's balance of payments'. The ultra-patriotic Mr Bridger (a splendidly aristocratic Noel Coward, his cell walls pasted with pictures of royalty) sees the job as much a matter of national pride, a means to demonstrate the efficiency of the British system of work, than a route to amass loot. Characteristically Bridger is more interested in studying balance of payment statistics than examining escape routes for his operatives who appropriately enough travel to their work' on the Free Enterprise 1.
The reference to football is significant and parallels with the sport are deliberate. Most obviously, the robbery is planned for the time of an England-Italy match maximising confusion and even,(as Bridger suggests at one point), possible help from their compatriots. Croker's men at one point assume the identity of a van full of fans, while the impromptu beer celebration in the back of the coach, after ditching the minis, is the team's victory drink. It is clear that the Italians, whether the police or the Mafia, are as much their opponents as the national team playing in the stadium. Back in prison, upon news of the triumph by his team', Bridger descends the stairs, like a penal Alf Ramsey, acknowledging the chants of England!' by celebrating fans.
Caine's cockney player is very much the main character of the film (a role apparently and amazingly originally offered to Robert Redford). The actor, who had earlier played the soliliquising womaniser Alfie in the 1966 film of the same name, reprises some elements of that character's optimism and assumptiveness. In the present film he is less of cynical loner, studiously subservient to his criminal employer, though still on the look out for a good thing both professionally and sexually. Like his more famous compatriot, James Bond, he drives an Aston Martin although quickly reduced to a bicycle and then a mini. The Mafia's cliff-side warning dents some of his self assurance, presumably also shaken by the roughing up from Bridger's men (although interestingly the beating is never referred to again, and leaves no physical marks.) Away from his boss he remains very much his own man, although his loyalty is never in doubt: `From now on we work as a team. Which means you all listen to me.' Crocker is always in control, never sentimental, being content to pack his girlfriend off with the minimum of ceremony at the airport. Emotion will slowly filter through Caine's screen persona. His watching of Beckermann's footage early on, to explain the big idea, anticipates Jack Carter's less dispassionate viewing of celluloid in Hodges' gangster film two years later.
Before the long, final chase ensues, the gang's Aston and two Jags are ceremoniously wasted by the Mafia. While making a simple point about the threat and power of the Italian underworld, the removal of competing' vehicles also reaffirms the status of the remaining minis. Ironically if the film has a weakness, it lies in the mini's prominence, which reduces tension during the last part of the film. The stunts remain eye-catching today (the notable roof top jump being filmed on the roof of the Fiat factory), but very often one is aware of watching a demonstration of the vehicle's versatility rather than any dramatic bid for freedom. In one scene filmed, later deleted from the release print, the minis and their Italian pursuers performed gracefully together on an ice rink choreographed to a waltz, slowing the action even further. That such a scene was considered, and filmed, gives an indication of how taken the makers had been with the car, and with the *means* rather than the *process* of urgent escape.
Another less satisfactory element of the plot is the disappearing Mafia. Initially presented as a formidable, organised force (as in their synchronised appearance on the hill side for instance), the Italian hoods are sidelined as events unfold, criminal impotents. Their absence from the finale seems odd. With or without the Cosa Nostra's malign shadow, the existing conclusion of the film has excited much comment. With its famous shot of the coach balanced out over the precipice, the gold sliding towards its back end, and Croker's closing `I've got a great idea..', it is a literal cliff hanger. The original script tailed off with the escape, and another twist in the tail was clearly needed. After some debate a studio executive added the existing close, which could easily have appeared lame, but in the event proves a satisfying conclusion. By leaving the coach and the viewer hanging, the film has it both ways: the crooks get away with it and yet they don't; a group of white British lads triumph in their cool minis, only to have their plans derailed by a careless black driver of their coach. If the film has been about the state of Britishness' at the time then the uncertainty of its conclusion anticipates, perhaps, the doubts and strife of the ensuing decades.
This thing starts moving and doesn't let go of you until the end, at which
point you wish you were still on the ride going. We were surprised that
we'd never herd of this before, especially since so many scenes are in
games these days (and times past).
This isn't one of those movies you spend your time thinking about, just sit down, watch, and let the movie unfold before you. If you're looking for good entertainment, this is it. If you are looking for meaning and some sort of significance, look elsewhere.
Good fast fun! 8/10
"The Italian Job" is a comedic heist film that is mostly renowned for
the extended car chase getaway. In it, a thief recently released from
prison (Michael Caine) organizes a scheme to steal a shipment of gold
bars by creating a massive traffic jam and using a trio of Mini Coopers
to escape with the loot.
The cast is pretty decent with the always dependable Caine perfectly cast as charismatic thief Charlie Croker, Noel Coward as the incarcerated backer of the titular job and Benny Hill in a small role as a computer expert obsessed with plump women. Besides that there's no-one worth remarking on and not much acting that isn't up to snuff.
The script is bold and inventive with much of the humour being understated and unpredictable. The heist itself is clever but the staging of the getaway is a real work of art. Again, there is an inventiveness that is quite refreshing. Nevertheless, I was starting to get a little tired of waiting for the heist to be set in motion. Finally, the ending caps the proceedings in memorable fashion.
The direction by Peter Collinson is solid and above average for an action-comedy. The music, handled by Quincy Jones, is memorable but also characteristic of the era, meaning that it is unlikely to appeal to all tastes.
If you're looking for a lighthearted crime caper this is just the ticket. I particularly recommend the film since it includes what is, in my opinion, the best car chase ever filmed.
At the behest of Mr Bridger, Charlie Croker puts together a crew to pull of
a massive job. The job is to rob an armoured car on the streets of Turin
and then get away clean. The plan involves explosives a traffic jam, a
football match and a load of mini coopers.
I watched this recently on TV it was shown the night before England played Argentina in World Cup 2002 (1-0, Argentina then dropped put in the first round!). The reason it was shown was simply that it's strength is that it's a good caper movie where the Brits go over there and put one over on the Italians! It may smack of zenophobia but that's what it is!
The criminals even go so far as to use Mini's for the job in the most famous scene of the film, making them cool for decades! The reason it was shown before the game was just to feed on the fact that national pride was high. Even if you ignore the British element (the song `self preservation society' is now even a football anthem) then it's still quite fun to watch. The build up to the job is breezy and funny with good lines, while the job itself is fanciful but great fun.
The ending must be known to everyone but it's still good no matter how many times you see it! The cast are all good with a range of British TV faces in there bringing a distinct British comedy. Caine is great, as are Coward and Hill but the real stars are the Mini's and the daring comedic race across Turin.
Overall this is not a great film but it is a classic caper movie. It's made even better by the fact that it makes you proud to be British in a weird way! Say it with me my friends `hang on lads, I've got an idea ..'
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
- Charlie Croker (Michael Caine) has been out of prison for less than
five minutes when he begins planning his next heist. This one involves
robbing an armored car filled with gold in the streets of Turin, Italy.
But, it's not just the police that Croker and Crew must contend with.
The Mafia doesn't want some outsider to come into their country and
steal gold out from under their noses either. The job becomes similar
to the football match the Crew uses as a cover - it's about national
- It's amazing that I had never seen this movie before. I understand that in Britain, it's considered nothing short of a national treasure. After watching, I can certainly see why. Everything about The Italian Job just screams Britannia - the Minis, the song with lyrics that are indecipherable to most Americans, Michael Caine, sensibilities, etc. I don't think that the colors selected for the Minis was an accident. About half way through, I felt like stopping the movie to make tea.
- The actual theft of the gold is fairly unremarkable. But the chase afterwards is where a lot of the fun in this movies lays. The Minis are characters in their own right. The final third of the movie is the most amazing commercial for an automobile I've ever seen. We see the Minis go down stairs, jump through the air, race across the roofs of buildings, splash through water, swoosh through tunnels, and (if you watch the deleted scenes on the Region 1 DVD) waltz on ice. Sometimes these extended car chase scenes can go on too long for their own good. Not here. I was never bored of watching the Minis race around Turin.
- I loved the ending. It is left wide open for you, the viewer, to decide just what happens next. Too many newer movies seem to feel the need to explain everything in the most minute detail. It's nice to use your imagination for a change.
- Finally, the music is another highlight of the movie. It seems a little odd that a movie I have described being very British should have the very American Quincy Jones responsible for the score. I defy anyone to watch The Italian Job and not have Getta Bloomin' Move On! stuck in your head for days.
Charlie Croker (Michael Caine) is a lovable, fashionable convict who despite having served five years in prison, is immediately engaged to accepting an "Italian Job" in Italy and in the process, completing the intricate crime of a lifetime. A short but very interesting film about an Italian town called Turin, is sent to him by a good friend and marked man called Beckerman (Rossano Brazzi). The film instructs Croker to take the accumulated plans, get a financial backer and pull off what Beckerman describes as a $4,000,000 gold robbery, through a traffic jam. The minor problems are explained but easily overcome by Bekerman's meticulous plans. However, the main obstacles to the bank heist are no trivial matter. Croker will be up against the highly sophisticated armored convoy with its armed guards, the 'special security' system of the bank, and an entire city in Chaos. Additionally the shipment will be protected by the biggest obstacle of all The Mafia (Raf Vallone). They warn Charlie, if he attempts to steal the gold, he will be sent back to England in a pine box. To his credit, Charlie wins over the confidence of England's version of the Godfather, Mr. Bridger (Noel Coward who is superb.) To further aid Croker, he assembles an odd assortment of characters such as Professor Simon Peach. (Benny Hill who is wonderful) and Stanley Cain as Coco. The entire film is dedicated to the fact that even the most secure treasures can be stolen. However, hanging onto them, crossing the Alps and getting back home is subject to the Law of Gravity. A serious and comic film destined to become a classic, especially with it's haunting theme. ****
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