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3000 Million Without an Elevator More at IMDbPro »Trois milliards sans ascenseur (original title)

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3000 MILLION WITHOUT AN ELEVATOR (Roger Pigaut, 1972) **1/2

Author: MARIO GAUCI ( from Naxxar, Malta
20 May 2010

Caper thrillers were a Film Noir staple; however, the delightful Italian spoof BIG DEAL ON MADONNA STREET (1958) ushered in a wave of light-hearted treatments of the subject. Another highlight of the latter approach is SEVEN GOLDEN MEN (1965), on whose title many variations began to appear – including the Italian moniker, SEVEN BRAINS FOR A PERFECT CAPER, devised for the title under review; that said, it is far closer in spirit to BIG DEAL – since the characters are essentially incompetent small-time crooks. Anyway, this French-Italian co-production was completely unknown to me before its recent broadcast on late-night Italian TV; however, given the theme and impressive cast list (Michel Bouquet, Marcel Bozzuffi, Gabriele Ferzetti, Serge Reggiani, Francosie Rosay, etc.), I made it a point to check it out – and, while no classic, it proved a considerably enjoyable addition (thanks, in no small measure, to Teo Usuelli's jaunty score) to a prolific but eminently watchable genre. Amusingly, the film starts with Bozzuffi and Reggiani uttering individual swear words – cursing their fate and, by extension, each other (which actually becomes something of a running-gag between them); Bozzuffi is the brains of the outfit and, in fact, he drops the gang (also comprising fallen aristocrat Bouquet, as well as working-class men Bernard Fresson and Amidou) to try his luck with bigwig Ferzetti, for which he is callously rejected as small fry. Ferzetti, however, ends up hoist by his own petards: when the gang fail at stealing a collection of Europe's most prized jewels (kept inside the top floor of a skyscraper, to which they climb via an endless internal interconnected stairway!) due to amateur electrician Bouquet's flawed alarm-defusing system, Bozzuffi turns once again to the kingpin – who, naturally cannot resist the opportunity of sending his own hoods to do the job…after which the proceeds are stolen from him by Bozzuffi & Co., who make away with the safe in toto!! Even so, they still contrive to 'lose' the loot to the cops – but, this being a comedy, their hopes are set upwards once again by the finale as matriarch Rosay directs their attention to an advert of yet another set of jewels about to be displayed in town (soon after being evicted from her once stately house, a further step in the all-consuming modernization which has come to embody Progress)…

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