The Original and Best Italian Job
Charlie Croker (Michael Caine), is just about to finish a stint at her majesty's pleasure, but is already involved in plans for his next big robbery with the help of Roger Beckerman (Rossano Brazzi), the brains behind the operation. Upon his release, he pays a visit to the home of the Beckerman's, only to find out that he has been murdered by the Italian Mafia. Now, in possession of the plans to stage a daring robbery in the centre of busy Turin, he breaks back into the prison he had just been released from to persuade British crime lord Mr. Bridger (Noel Coward) to give him the financial backing.
With the eventual backing of Mr. Bridger, Croker goes about assembling his team of crooks under the watchful eye of one of Bridger's henchmen, Camp Freddie (Tony Beckley). Now with everything in place, the team travel to Italy, only to find the Mafia lying in wait, ready to warn them off. Undeterred, they continue on to Turin, ready to bring the place to a stand still, with the biggest traffic jam in history, in an attempt to rob a security van of 4 million in gold and to escape in their minis.
Often hailed as a British classic, and a British Institution, the original "The Italian Job", in my mind, is far superior to its supposedly modern remake. Too be honest, they are 2 totally different movies and no real comparison can be justly made.
The original "The Italian Job" follows newly released convict, Charlie Croker, as he stages a spectacular heist in the Italian city of Turin, with the aid of a very strange bunch of criminals. The plan is to cause a huge traffic jam, where they will be able to rob an Italian security van full of gold bullion and escape through the crowded streets in their little minis. Although this film is basically a thriller, it never really takes it self seriously, and has its fair share of humorous dialogue and performances. This is part of the reason it is classed by some as a classic, as it has so many memorable lines that something about it sticks in your mind. It also helped that it was very patriotic, with references to the Queen, the Union Jack colours.
The film is headed by Michael Caine as Charlie Croker, and his performance will always be remembered for the following line "You're Only Supposed to Blow the Bloody Doors Off!" To be frank, this film is built round the character of Charlie Croker, and everyone else can be easily classified as supporting cast, in fact some of there performances look more like there extras. As Mr. Bridger, you have Noel Coward who plays the very patriotic Crime Boss. To be honest, you wouldn't cast Noel Coward as a fearsome Crime Boss, but it works because he comes over as a well respected and dignified criminal, if that is possible? As professor Peach, who helps with orchestrating the traffic jam, is Benny Hill, who has a very strange obsession with slightly large women. Again, no one in there right mind would cast Benny Hill as a scientific mind, but in doing so; they have created another outlet for more humour. The rest of the supporting cast, "extras" all put in reasonable, comical performances but nothing really to write home about.
The film is directed by Peter Collinson and to be fair, has done a reasonable job. In my opinion, the first 2 thirds of the movie are very good, as although the film focuses on Croker, we get to see all the characters. In the final third of the film, the iconic mini sequence becomes the star, and although is enjoyable, in my opinion is over long and slows the film down. Don't get me wrong, I think this part is very clever and is one of the most memorable car chases in cinematic history, I just feel that it is slightly too long and a bit over indulgent.
The soundtrack is mostly remembered for the song "The Self-Preservation Society", and some people may remember it for the opening piece "On Day's Like These", but most people don't realize that the soundtrack was composed by Quincy Jones. Too be honest, you don't really notice the soundtrack except for when these two pieces are on.
Yes, the original "The Italian Job" is a very good film and is always an enjoyable film to watch. Whether it deserves the honour of being a classic, is hard to say, as there are many other films which deserve the accolade more than this. With a good mix of drama, action and humour, The Italian Job has something for everyone and I would recommend everyone to at least watch it, let alone own it. I would warn those who have only seen the modern version, not to expect to see an identical film, as they are two completely different movies.