My Rating: 4/5.
Charlie is just out of the prison when he learns about his friends’ failed attempt at carrying out a heist in Italy. Now with the Mafia close on his heels, he intends to carry out the job himself.
After watching The Italian Job (2003), yesterday night, I thought I should review first the original and then the remake.
I noted that the 2003 version is good as well, but it is all crime without the comedy, and it’s almost all “high tech.” The plot of this original does rely on technology – a switched computer tape that runs the city of Turin’s traffic system. But, that’s taken care of in a few minutes of the film.
The rest is a plot of planning, maneuvering and action with interludes of miscues. This is among the earliest films to use a high-tech device in its plot. Before this time, the most commonly used plots with technical devices were security alarm systems in museums and cameras in banks.
Humor is interspersed in all this. It’s a British movie filmed in Ireland, England, the city of Turin, Italy, and the Italian Alps. Michael Caine is Charlie Croker, a local bad boy who has just finished two years in the slammer. Noel Coward is Mr. Bridger, the imprisoned king of corruption in Great Britain. Croker has to get Bridger’s organization to back the biggest heist of all time — $4 million in gold. Raf Vallone is Altabani, the Italian mafia leader who’s out to stop the British heist.
Besides being a very good comedy caper film, “The Italian Job” (1969) is one heck of a satire of the British penal system. Every scene back at the prison with Mr. Bridger is hilarious.
This is the funniest and best mockery portrayal of a big time criminal living the life of royalty in a prison. The film has a large cast of men involved in the heist, but the vast bulk of dialog, scene time and humor is with the three main characters.
The cinematography is excellent and the filming and scripting of the car chase scenes is among the best of that type of action ever filmed. Mr. Bridger’s loyalty to Great Britain and the royal family is the cause of some good laughs a few times. Croker saves the lives of his crew when Altabani and his Mafia men intercept them coming into Italy over the Alps. He tells Altabani that if the Mafia kills him and his men, Bridge’s organization would come down on the thousands of Italian restaurants and other businesses in Great Britain.
The Mafia is protective of Italy’s economy, while Bridger also is interested in bolstering England’s lagging economy by causing the hit on Italy’s economy through the heist. It’s all quite funny. There are some instances of innuendo about Croker and his love life, and a few otherwise clean jokes in places that only the older children are likely to get. So, this is a film that the whole family should enjoy.
I think one of the very best scenes is the ending. It’s the perfect “unending” to leave an audience to wonder if the old adage is true – that “crime does not pay.”
The cast is pretty decent with the always dependable Caine perfectly cast as charismatic thief Charlie Croker, Noel Coward as the incarcerated backer of the titular job and Benny Hill in a small role as a computer expert obsessed with plump women. Besides that there’s no-one worth remarking on and not much acting that isn’t up to snuff.
The direction by Peter Collinson is solid and above average for an action-comedy. The music, handled by Quincy Jones, is memorable but also characteristic of the era, meaning that it is unlikely to appeal to all tastes.
If you’re looking for a lighthearted crime caper this is just the ticket. I particularly recommend the film since it includes what is, in my opinion, the best car chase ever filmed.
A Rollicking Heist Flick With The Best Car Chase Ever Put On Film
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