The Italian Job | 1969 | Michael Caine, Noël Coward

The Italian Job | 1969 | Michael Caine, Noël Coward

Michael Caine brings his trademark Cockney charm to this landmark in Euro-sceptic entertainment. Loaded with gags, girls, cars and gold its depiction of plucky Brits making off with Italian loot is fast, funny and always worth revisiting.

Assembling a motley gang of low rent losers Charlie Croker (Caine) heads out to Turin where, through an audacious piece of traffic management, the lads rob an armoured car and get away with £4 million in bullion – or do they?

It’s a film that evokes a sort of fantasy England where amateur heroes succeed against Johnny Foreigner, but it’s not afraid to send itself up. Noel Coward’s Mr Bridger, the operation’s prison-bound backer is obsessed with the Queen and his bowels. ("You’ve interrupted my rhythm," he tells Caine when he’s disturbed at stool.) Benny Hill’s Professor Peach is a schoolboy lech, forever pressing himself up against fat lady’s bottoms, while Caine himself is a comedy entrepreneur buoyed up by sixties optimism. Director Collinson drives the film on by cutting swiftly to the chase and the stunt scenes are still spectacular. An icon of British design when the film was made, the Minis are presented as characters in their own right and the driving is as carefully choreographed as ballet.

The famous cliff hanger conclusion was left deliberately open to allow for the possibility of a sequel but it makes for an agreeably odd close. This would be Collinson’s only real hit and he died eleven years later at 41. He’s as much traffic warden as director here, but that a film so of its time should have aged so well is a tribute to that famous last line: "Hang on lads. I’ve got a great idea."

Michael Caine as Charlie Croker
Noël Coward as Mr. Bridger
Benny Hill as Professor Simon Peach
Margaret Blye as Lorna
Raf Vallone as Altabani
Tony Beckley as Camp Freddie
Rossano Brazzi as Beckerman
Irene Handl as Miss Peach
John Le Mesurier as Governor
Fred Emney as Birkinshaw
John Clive as Garage Manager
Graham Payn as Keats
Michael Standing as Arthur
Stanley Caine as Coco
Barry Cox as Chris
Robert Powell as Yellow
Harry Baird as Big William
George Innes as Bill Bailey
John Forgeham as Frank
Derek Ware as Rozzer
Frank Jarvis as Roger
David Salamone as Dominic
Richard Essome as Tony
Mario Valgoi as Manzo
Renato Romano as Cosca
Franco Novelli as Altabani’s Driver
Robert Rietti as Police Chief
Timothy Bateson as Dentist
David Kelly as Vicar
Arnold Diamond as Senior Computer Room Official
Simon Dee as Shirtmaker
Alastair Hunter as Cinema Warder
Lana Gatto as Mrs. Cosca
Louis Mansi as Computer Room Official
Hazel Collinson as Blonde Scrubber at Party
Henry McGee as Tailor
Lelia Goldoni as Mrs. Beckerman
Philip Ettington as Ronnie (uncredited)

Production Design: Disley Jones
Art Direction: Michael Knight
Director Of Photography: Douglas Slocombe
Clapper Loader: David Wynn-Jones
Director: Peter Collinson
Editor: John Trumper
Producers: Michael Deeley, Stanley Baker
Casting: Paul Lee Lander
Associate Producer: Robert Porter
Original Music Composer: Quincy Jones
Writer: Troy Kennedy Martin

UK | 99 minutes | 1969



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