The Italian Job
Dir: Peter Collinson
Star: Michael Caine, Noel Coward, Benny Hill, John Le Messurier, Tony Beckley
Cert / Year: PG / 1969
Format: VIDEO

"We're the Self Preservation Society"

The Italian Job starts with Charlie Croker (Michael Caine) getting released from prison. After saying his goodbyes to his fellow inmates, including the enigmatic Mr Bridger, (Noel Coward) the gangland boss, staunch Royallist and needless to say the top dog of the prison, he exits the gates a new man. Much to his dismay he gets picked up by his girlfriend, in a stolen diplomatic car, on the plus side she takes him back home where she has organised a wide assortment of women, to welcome him home of course.

After his little party Charlie meets with an old associate's widow, who has a cine film and a thorough plan to give to him. (among other things) The plan was drawn up by Charlie's friend who met an untimely death in the Alps courtesy of the Mafia, led by Altabani (Raf Vallone) who knew what he was doing and wanted to send a message to whoever received the plan. The plan involved the daring robbery of an armoured car, carrying gold bullion from Turin airport, and its subsequent successful transport through Turin, whilst the city is in the middle of a traffic jam and right under the noses of the Italians and the Mafia. Which is an oppurtunity that cheeky cockney and plucky Brit, Charlie Croker cannot resist. Only problem is that it will take a great deal of money, to set the job up and arrange, so Charlie has to ask Mr Bridger, for his permission to do the job and his financial support. Unfortunately Mr Bridger is still in prison, so Charlie has to break back into prison, and steal a few minutes of his time in the lavatory, which naturally annoys Mr Bridger who doesn't like his routine disturbed.

"He's just done a two year stretch, and he's as honest as the day is long"

After Mr Bridger has Charlie "roughed up" by Camp Freddie (Tony Beckley) and his lads, he agrees to fund the heist. Charlie then recruits a group of petty criminals and generally hapless thieves, in order to do the job, overseen by Mr Bridger's assistant "Camp Freddie". The group is completed by the prominent computer scientist, Professor Peach (Benny Hill) whose expertise will enable them to reprogram the Turin traffic computer, in order to cause the traffic jam for their escape, even though he has a lurid attraction to BIG women.

"Your only supposed to blow the bloody door's off!"

Written by Troy Kennedy Martin, whose other work includes Kelly's Heroes and Reilly:Ace of Spies, really did come up trumps with The Italian Job, it is one of those feel good "Brit Flick" movies and is nothing short of superb. The film has some fantastic characters, a great story and of course the best car chase in a movie.... ever! The Mini Cooper chase through Turin is breathtaking, exhilarating, and completely unforgettable. Just about everything that can go wrong for the gang, does go wrong for Charlie and the boy's, and yet they soldier on, and turn the heist of the century into a successful testament of British Bulldog Spirit, from Bridger controlling the heist from his majestically decorated prison cell through to Benny Hill managing to incorporate some of his "postcard humour" into his role as Professor Peach, it never fails to raise a hair and a laugh, all culminating in the ultimate cliffhanger. Basically this is a film that you can watch and enjoy again and again.

"Hang on a minute lads, I've got a great idea"

Rating: 4 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home