Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Italian Job

(UK, 1969)

Something quite rare here, a movie to which a sequel was made, and the sequel is pretty good. Not quite up to the standard this one set, but good in its own way. The newer version takes the physical concepts of an elaborate plan carried out by a large crew of experts and jazzes it up with newer technology, but largely misses on the humor of this one. Michael Caine is a criminal planner who hasn’t been doing too well. He comes up with a scheme to snatch three million pounds in gold from an armored car in Turin, by creating a total gridlock traffic jam. The plan is impossibly elaborate, requires more than a dozen men, several vehicles including a tour bus … and three Morris Minis, which are the key to the getaway. Because these tiny little cars can go places no regular car can go, including over rooftops and through sewer pipes.

This was the chief attraction in those pre-CGI days. The stunt driving is sheer pleasure to watch; we had never seen anything quite like it. The new one, of course, used a lot of SFX. Not really the same.

A sub-plot involves the great Noel Coward as the criminal boss of London. He resides in gaol, in a comfortable cell, with the warden basically serving his every need. He can come and go as he pleases, but it suits him to stay there. He is fanatically patriotic. Every wall of his cell is plastered with pictures of Queen Liz, as the walls of a teenage girl would be plastered with pictures of that worst Canadian import of the last 200 years, Justin Bieber. It’s pretty funny stuff, and Coward eats it up. The worst thing about the flick, oddly enough, is the music. Awful stuff. And the most painful thing to see is the total destruction of at least three Jaguar XKEs, a couple Ferraris, and a Lamborghini. Sad to watch.