|The Italian Job|
|Directed by||Peter Collinson|
|Written by||Troy Kennedy Martin|
|Produced by||Michael Deeley|
|Edited by||John Trumper|
|Music by||Quincy Jones|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Budget||$3 million|
|Box office||$113,867[better source needed]|
The Italian Job is a 1969 British comedy caper film, written by Troy Kennedy Martin, produced by Michael Deeley, directed by Peter Collinson, and starring Michael Caine. The film's plot centres around cockney criminal Charlie Croker, recently released from prison, who forms a gang for the job of stealing a cache of gold bullion being transported through the city of Turin, Italy to steal from an armoured security truck. Alongside Caine, the film's cast also included Benny Hill, Raf Vallone, Tony Beckley, and Noël Coward – the film would be Coward's last before his retirement from acting. The soundtrack was composed by Quincy Jones, featuring the songs "On Days Like These", sung by Matt Monro over the opening credits, and "Getta Bloomin' Move On" (usually referred to as "The Self-Preservation Society", after its chorus) during the climactic car chase, which featured Caine among its singers.
The film proved a success upon its release, earning critical acclaim amongst critics for the performances by Caine and Coward, the film's reflection of British culture from the period, and the film's climactic car chase. The Italian Job became a cult symbol of British filmography, being ranked favourably in the top 100 British films by the British Film Institute. Several elements from the film became symbolic cult features, including the film's cliffhanger ending, and Caine's infamous line from the film.
The popularity of The Italian Job led to several parodies and allusions in other films and productions, including the 2005 episode of The Simpsons titled "The Italian Bob", and a re-enactment of the Mini Cooper car-chase in the MacGyver episode "Thief of Budapest". The film itself was later given a video game adaptation in 2001, before receiving a remake in 2003. A charity event titled The Italian Job, founded in 1990 and held annually, was inspired by the film; to date, it has raised nearly £3,000,000 so far. Marking the 50th anniversary of the film, in June 2019, stunt drivers in red, white and blue Coopers recreated parts of the film's car-chase around Turin at the grounds of Mini's Oxford factory.
Charlie Croker is released from prison following a sentence for an undisclosed crime, and reunites with his girlfriend Lorna to enjoy his first taste of freedom. He then heads for a meeting with his friend, fellow thief Roger Beckermann, who had been planning a job in Italy. However, Croker is surprised to meet with Beckermann's wife, who reveals that her husband was killed while in the Alps, but insists that he continues with Beckermann's plans, which had been completed before his death. Croker discovers that Beckermann had conceived a strategic heist that would involve trapping a security convoy in a traffic jam while it travels through Turin, and stealing from it $4 million in gold bullion – a down payment to the Italian government by China for a Fiat car factory.
Croker approaches British nationalist crime lord Mr. Bridger for financial backing for the plan, who is initially unconvinced to begin with, but soon offers support when he learns of the heist's target. With help from Bridger's organisation, which Bridger runs while serving time in Croker's former prison, Croker recruits several members to his team, including Lorna, Bridger's right-hand man Camp Freddie, and computer expert Professor Peach, the latter required to help sabotage Turin's traffic control system. After securing the needed equipment, Croker begins training up his team, as Bridger does research into Beckermann's plan. As the crew finalise preparations, Croker receives a summons to meet Bridger in a faked funeral ceremony and attends it with his team. The meeting allows him to learns that Beckermann was killed by the mafia, who have gotten word about the heist, with Croker warned to not return without the gold.
After leaving for Italy, Croker and some of his crew are confronted by the Mafia in the Alps, at the same spot where Beckermann was killed, led by their boss Altabani, who seek to dissuade them from their plans. The group soon find themselves deprived of their getaway cars, but are spared by Altabani after Croker warns him of Mr Bridger enacting mass retribution on the Italian community in the UK if they are killed. Wanting to protect his fellow Italians, Altabani tells Croker and his gang to go home, not believing that they can complete the job. Despite the confrontation, Croker goes ahead with the heist, and has his crew infiltrate the Turin traffic control centre later that night, so that Peach can replace one of the computer's magnetic tape data storage reels with another that will sabotage the computer system. The next day, the crew prepare for the heist, though Lorna is sent away by Croker to Geneva to protect her and the plan, while Peach disappears and is later arrested for molesting a woman on a tram. Croker sends a gang member, disguised as a football fan to sabotage the closed circuit television cameras that monitor traffic, as the computer system malfunctions and begins creating a chaotic traffic jam.
The crew swiftly ambush the convoy outside the Museo Egizio as it is stalled by the traffic jam, subduing the police and moving the van inside the building, before transferring the gold into the boot of three Mini Coopers. While most of the crew escape the building disguised as football fans, Croker leads the rest out of the city in the Minis as the police begin making moves to stop them. However, Croker leads the cars to follow the escape route devised in Beckermann's plan (driving through areas such as sewers, viaducts and across rooftops), which allows them to escape the city and the police, and reach a coach to collect them. Once aboard, the group unload the gold, and then dispose of the Minis in the Alps, before rendezvousing with the rest of the crew. As Bridger celebrates with his fellow prisoners and staff back home in England upon hearing of their success, the crew celebrate with beer as they travel along a twisting mountain road. However, the coach suddenly spins out of control and teeters over a cliff, with the gold balancing over the edge. Croker soon contemplates how to save themselves and the gold (which slides further away as he tries to get it), and claims he has a "great idea" as the film concludes on a literal cliffhanger.
According to a "Making Of" documentary, producer Deeley was unsatisfied with the four written endings and conceived the current ending as a literal cliffhanger appropriate to an action film which left an opportunity for a sequel. The documentary describes how helicopters would save the bus seen on the cliff at the end of the first film. In interviews in 2003 and 2008, Michael Caine revealed that the ending would have had Croker "crawl up, switch on the engine and stay there for four hours until all the petrol runs out... The van bounces back up so we can all get out, but then the gold goes over."
In 2008, the Royal Society of Chemistry held a competition for a solution that had a basis in science, was to take not more than 30 minutes and did not use a helicopter. The idea was to promote greater understanding of science, and to highlight the 100th anniversary of the periodic table, on which gold is one of the 118 elements. The winning entry, by John Godwin of Surrey, was: Break and remove two large side windows just aft of the pivot point and let the glass fall outside to lose its weight; break two windows over the two front axles, keeping the broken glass on board to keep its weight for balance; let a man out on a rope through the front broken windows (not to rest his weight on the ground) who deflates all the bus's front tyres, to reduce the bus's rocking movement about its pivot point; drain the fuel tank, which is aft of the pivot point, which changes the balance enough to let a man get out and gather heavy rocks to load the front of the bus. Unload the bus. Wait until a suitable vehicle passes on the road, hijack it, and carry the gold away in it.
The interior of the prison that held Bridger was Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin, Ireland. The exterior, seen when Croker leaves, is HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs in west London. Upon his release, Croker stays at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in Bayswater, London. Denbigh Close, Notting Hill, W11, was used as the location for Croker's home.
The training sessions shown for the Mini drivers were at the Crystal Palace race track in Upper Norwood, South London. The attempt to blow off the doors of the bullion van, which caused its total destruction and produced Croker's line "You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!", took place at Crystal Palace Sports Centre. The Crystal Palace transmitter can be seen in the background. The meeting at the misty funeral was filmed in Cruagh Cemetery, in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains. The office block that doubled as the Turin traffic control centre was Apex House, the Hanworth, Middlesex head office of the television rental chain Thorn (DER).
The chase sequences were filmed in Turin, except for the chase through the sewer tunnel, which was shot in the Sowe Valley Sewer Duplication system in the Stoke Aldermoor district of Coventry in the English Midlands, filmed from the back of a Mini Moke. The person on the far side who closes the gate at the end of sewer tunnel is the director, Peter Collinson. Collinson also appeared in the scene on the highway when the ramps get jettisoned, clinging to the right-hand rear door of the coach as the Minis enter at speed.
A portion of the car chase was filmed as a dance between the Minis and police cars with a full orchestra playing "The Blue Danube" inside Pier Luigi Nervi's Palazzo Esposizioni, usually used for the Turin Motor Show (and now a hospital library).
The final escape from Turin was filmed on the road to Ceresole Reale via Lago Agnel and Nivolet Pass (the highway does not lead to France or Switzerland because it is a dead end).
Roger Beckermann's orange Lamborghini Miura in the opening scene is actually two cars. The first was a Miura P400 that was sold as new afterwards. In 2015, it was located and authenticated by classic car expert Iain Tyrrell. The second car, tumbled down the chasm by the Mafia bulldozer, was another Miura that had previously been in a serious accident and was not roadworthy. Lamborghini confirmed in May 2019 that the Italian Job Miura had chassis number 3586.
Gold cost $38.69 per troy ounce in 1968, so four million dollars in gold bars would have weighed about 3200 kg (7000 lb), requiring each of the three Minis to carry about 1070 kg (2300 lb) in addition to the driver and passenger. Since a 1968 Mini only weighs 630 kg (1400 lb), each of these vehicles would have had to carry 1+1⁄2 times its own weight in gold.
The original DB4 belongs today to a private English collection. According to several sources, the "Aston" pushed off the cliff was a Vignale Lancia Flaminia mocked up as an Aston. The two E-type Jaguars that suffered from the Mafia's revenge were restored to original condition.
A Land Rover Series IIa Station Wagon, registration BKO 686C, was used to get to the convoy before attacking and was modified with window bars and a towbar. A Ford Thames 400E was used for the football fans' decorated van; this was referred to as the Dormobile, the name of a common camper-van conversion coachbuilder. The cross-Channel ferry featured in one scene is the MS Free Enterprise I. The ship spent many years as a day cruise ship in Greek waters before being scrapped in 2013. The "Chinese" plane delivering the gold to Turin is a rare Douglas C-74 Globemaster, of which only 14 were built and only four passed into private ownership. It had been abandoned in Milan by its owners and was moved to Turin for filming. It was destroyed by fire in 1970.
Main article: The Italian Job (soundtrack)
The music for the soundtrack was written by Quincy Jones. The opening theme, "On Days Like These", had lyrics by Don Black and was sung by Matt Monro. The closing theme, "Get a Bloomin' Move On" (AKA "The Self Preservation Society"), was performed by the cast and had lyrics featuring Cockney Rhyming Slang. Many incidental themes are based on British patriotic songs, such as "Rule, Britannia!", "The British Grenadiers" and "God Save the Queen".
The film opened at the Plaza Cinema in London on 5 June 1969.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 81% and an average rating of 7.4/10, based on 31 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Italian Job is a wildly fun romp that epitomizes the height of Britannia style." On Metacritic it has a score of 70% based on reviews from 10 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews. Most positive reviews focus on the climactic car chase and the acting of both Michael Caine and Noël Coward, complementing Peter Collinson's directing. It is considered highly evocative of 1960s London and the era in Britain as a whole. In a modern review Nik Higgins of Future Movies claims that the film makes Austin Powers's wardrobe appear 'drab and grey'. He compliments Michael Caine's ability to effectively portray the character of Charlie.
In 1999, it was ranked No. 36 on the BFI Top 100 British films by the British Film Institute. In November 2004, Total Film named The Italian Job the 27th greatest British film of all time. In 2011, it was voted the best British film in a poll of film fans conducted by Sky Movies HD. The line "You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!" by Caine was voted favourite film one-liner in a 2003 poll of 1,000 film fans. One of the most discussed end scenes in film, what happened to the coachload of gold teetering over the edge of a cliff, has been debated in the decades since the film was released.
Vincent Canby, writing at the time of the film's release, felt that the caper film had been made before and much better as well. He complimented the film's technological sophistication, only criticising what he saw as an 'emotionally retarded' plot. Canby also expressed concern that Coward's appearance in the film, although intended to be kind, 'exploits him in vaguely unpleasant ways' by surrounding his character with images of the royal family, which had not knighted him at the time. A contemporary review in Time magazine felt that the film spent too much time focusing on the film's caper as opposed to building the characters; it also criticised the car chases as 'dull and deafening'.
The movie was the 14th most popular at the UK box office in 1969. Although it received a Golden Globe nomination for "Best English-Language Foreign Film", the film was not a success in the US. The film remains popular, however. James Travers of Films de France believes that the film's enduring appeal rests in the 'improbable union' of Michael Caine, Noël Coward and Benny Hill, whom he considers "three of the best known [British] performers... in the late 1960s". He states that the film has a cult status and stands as a 'classic of its genre'.
Since 2000, there have been two remakes of the film. The first was released in 2003 and also called The Italian Job, set in Los Angeles and starring Mark Wahlberg as Charlie Croker. It features Donald Sutherland as John Bridger, played as more of a father figure to Croker. It employs the updated Mini Cooper for a chase towards the end. An official Bollywood remake of the 2003 film, called Players, was released in 2012.
There is a video game based on the 1969 film, released for the PlayStation game console in 2001 and Microsoft Windows in 2002 and published by Rockstar Games. The film was also the subject of a play, Bill Shakespeare's "The Italian Job", written by Malachi Bogdanov, who used lines from Shakespeare plays to tell the story. It was performed in 2003 at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Michael Caine's performance and "bloody doors" line has been parodied in several British comedies, and in a music video for "Pick a Part That's New" by Stereophonics. Large portions of the car chase scenes were lifted directly from the film for use in the MacGyver episode "Thief of Budapest" (Series 1, Ep 3) with the main characters setting up the story with three Minis visible at the start of the episode. Most of the end of the episode is footage from The Italian Job.
As part of a celebration of British culture at 2012 Summer Olympics, which were held in London, a replica of the bus was made and was exhibited balanced on the edge of the roof of The De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea. The dialogue and car blowing up scene were shown at the closing ceremony.
In September 2016, NBC and Paramount Television began work on a TV series inspired by the original and the remake, though this never surpassed the development stage. In 2001, author Matthew Field released a book The Making of The Italian Job, and to celebrate 50 years since the film's release he has published a new and updated version, The Self Preservation Society.
In February 2021, it was announced that a sequel TV series would release on Paramount+. It is set to revolve around Croker's grandchildren, who inherit his old safety deposit box, and a quest to find the Italian bullion is reignited. Matt Wheeler will write and executive produce the series, while Donald De Line will produce, after previously doing so for the 2003 remake.