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Italian Job

Italian Job

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About The Film

About The Film

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Italian Job is a British comedy caper film, written by Troy Kennedy Martin, produced by Michael Deeley and directed by Peter Collinson. It was released in 1969 and was very popular in Britain; subsequent television showings and releases on video have established it as something of a national institution in the UK, with a cult following elsewhere.

Its distinctive soundtrack was composed by Quincy Jones, and includes two 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 film’s climactic car chase.

In November 2004 the magazine Total Film named The Italian Job the 27th greatest British film of all time. The line “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!”, said by Michael Caine in the film, was voted the favourite movie one-liner in a 2003 poll of 1000 movie fans

The film stars Michael Caine as dapper mobster Charlie Croker, with Noel Coward as Mr Bridger, an incarcerated criminal mastermind who nonetheless runs a gangland empire from within jail. The plot revolves around Croker’s attempt to stage a gold bullion robbery in Turin, to be achieved by sabotaging the city’s traffic-control computer and escaping, in spite of the resulting traffic jam, in nippy Mini getaway cars along a carefully planned route. The person who originally devised the job, Roger Beckermann (Brazzi), is murdered by the Mafia while out on a drive in the Alps. His wife hands Croker the plans.

In the first half of the film Croker is released from prison and begins to assemble his gang, which includes computer expert Professor Peach (Benny Hill), and a very minor character played by Robert Powell. John Clive (various Pink Panther/Carry On films) makes an appearance as the garage owner that Charlie deals with to get his car out of storage.

Set in London and Turin and filmed with vivid colours in anamorphic format, the film remains an iconic evocation of the swinging sixties, although its rose-tinted view of London’s criminal underworld was in sharp contrast to the brutal reality. In fact, Caine has stated that he took the lead role in Get Carter (which portrays the same underworld with brutal realism) largely in order to correct the overly romantic picture of organised crime painted in The Italian Job. One of the most entertainingly absurd aspects of the film is that Mr Bridger’s gang is run by an effeminate dandyman named Camp Freddie (played by Tony Beckley).

Apart from the colourful vision of a certain time and place, the film is also notable for its inventive and exciting car chases and stunts, arranged by Rémy Julienne. The film’s cars were almost as much part of the cast as the people: the ill-fated Lamborghini Miura in the opening sequence, various Aston Martin and Jaguar sports cars, a Land Rover, and an array of police Alfa Romeos which are out-driven by the heroic British Minis.

The getaway sequence is the film’s highlight, however. It was arranged to take in as many sights of Turin as possible, though it makes no sense[citation needed] in terms of the city’s geographical layout. After the heist, the gang transfer the gold to the Minis in the entrance hall of the Museo Egizio. The three Minis then race through the stylish shopping arcades of the Via Roma, up the sail-like roof of the Palazzo Vela, around the rooftop test track of the famous Fiat Lingotto factory building and even down the steps of the Gran Madre di Dio church while a wedding is in progress. The gang finally escapes the city by driving through large sewer pipes, throwing off the police in the process.

The gang make their final getaway on a six-wheeled Bedford VAL coach (actually used to transport the crew)—driving up a ramp on the back whilst the coach is still travelling at speed. The getaway Minis are then pushed out of the still-moving coach as it negotiates hairpin bends in the Italian alps.

Successfully on their way to Switzerland along a winding mountain road, the gang celebrate in the back of the bus. A mistake by the driver sends the coach into a skid, with the back end of the bus teetering over the edge of the cliff, the gold slipping towards the rear doors. As Croker attempts to reach the gold, it slips further, and the audience is left not knowing whether the coach, its contents, and its occupants survive—a literal cliff-hanger ending. Croker’s last line is “Hang on a minute lads, I’ve got a great idea! Err…”


  • American distributors Paramount wanted Robert Redford to play the lead role.
  • The part of Caine’s girlfriend (played by Maggie Blye) was originally offered to British pop singer Cilla Black.
  • A great deal of the chase sequence was used in the MacGyver episode “The Thief of Budapest”, as one might expect set in Budapest rather than Turin.
  • The scene where the robbers’ Minis are chased through a sewer tunnel were filmed in the Sowe Valley Sewer Duplication system in the English city of Coventry.
  • The person on the far side that closes the gate at the end of sewer tunnel is the director, Peter Collinson. Collinson was also the person that clung to the back door of the coach as the Minis entered it at high speed. Charlie Croker picks up an Aston Martin from a garage after his release from prison. The Aston Martin scene in the original film was mostly improvised by the two actors, which caused slightly visible lighting problems in the scene as the crew didn’t know where the actors would be.
  • The jail used in the film that held Mr. Bridger was Kilmainham Jail in Dublin, Ireland.
  • A portion of the car chase, a surreal ‘dance’ between the Minis and the police cars, was filmed inside Pier Luigi Nervi’s distinctive Exhibition Building with a full orchestra playing ‘The Blue Danube’. It was cut from the final version of the film and appears as an ‘extra’ on the DVD of the movie.
  • Gold cost about $39 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 diminutive vehicles would have had to carry over 1½ times its own weight in gold.
  • The enthusiast’s club for the Riley Elf (a variety of Mini) is called “The Elf Preservation Society” in honor of the theme song from the movie.
  • As Croker walks through the garage where the Minis are being prepared for the robbery, we hear that “Rozzer’s having trouble with his differential” and we clearly see that the back of the red Mini Cooper is jacked up and Rozzer is obviously working hard. This is probably an insider joke since the Mini is a front wheel drive car and does not have a rear differential. In the early 1960s, front wheel drive cars were exceedingly rare and as a result, asking a novice car mechanic to repair a Mini’s rear differential was a popular snipe hunt.
  • According to the director’s commentary on the DVD, despite the huge publicity the film would give to the Mini, the car’s maker, BMC, were not completely committed to the project. BMC only provided a token fleet of Minis and the production company had to buy the remaining number needed for filming, albeit at trade price. Fiat by contrast grasped the commercial potential of the film and offered the production team as many turbo-charged Fiat cars as they needed, several sports cars for the Mafia confrontation scene, plus a cash lump sum, but the producers turned down the offer because it would have meant replacing the Minis with Fiats.
  • Following the filming, the coach used at the end of the movie had its improvised rear doors welded up and was converted back to a bus. It was used on a Scottish school bus route until the mid 1980s and still survives somewhere in Scotland.
  • Bridger’s line, “Everybody in the world is bent” was sampled into the Spacehog song Never Coming Down (Part II) from the 1995 album “Resident Alien”. The song also features the clapping rhythm used by the inmates.
  • Noel Coward took the role of Mr. Bridger because he is the godfather of the director, Peter Collinson. Coincidentally, the character Mr. Bridger is obsessed with Queen Elizabeth, while Coward was a friend of several members of the British royal family.