Run time: 99 mins
As three Minis rock from side to side in sewage tunnels, carrying £4 million in gold bullion in their boots, ask yourself this: is there a film – certainly a British film – that delivers a greater infusion of pure joy than this?
The answer, after 50 years, is No. The cast of this chirpilly patriotic movie is led by Michael Caine, reprising his Alfie persona as Charlie Croker, a smooth criminal who inherits a plan to rob the Fiat factory in Turin by causing the world’s biggest ever traffic jam (then: 1969). But first he must get the go-ahead from ageing crimelord Mr Bridger, a dangerously camp prison Farage, gifted by Noël Coward, who Runs-Things from his cell. Charlie tells him it’s a patriotic attack on “Europe, the Common Market, Italy and Fiat… ”
The brio and ambition can’t be doubted and together with Caine’s enormous charisma and ‘that’ ending (which to this day delights and frustrates equally – and by only 2% – equally). As a metaphor for England at the dawn of the 70s, The Italian Job is hard to top. (research Jack Whiting) An empty robbery not worth “blowing the bloody doors off” for… 50 years later.