Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Italian Job - 1969

"The Italian Job" - 1969
Dir. by Peter Collinson - 1 hr. 39 min.

Theatrical Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

It's been a while since I've watched "The Italian Job," but I had a distinct recollection that it was vastly superior to the remake.  That much is very true.  It's not a perfect film, but it's definitely better than the Edward Norton version, and has some very definite charms.  It's also very much a time capsule from 1969, which isn't always a bad thing.

Charlie (Michael Caine) is a criminal fresh out of prison, who's friend has died, leaving behind a nearly-intact plan for a heist involving $4 million of gold bullion.  It's up to Charlie to finance and staff the expedition, but the mental lifting has been done.  A decent amount of the film is dedicated to the staffing and planning of the heist itself, and the last act is the heist.  This isn't a terribly complicated film, folks.

One quick test: how much do the terms "Michael Caine" and "Carnaby Street" appeal to you?  One of the best reasons to check out "The Italian Job" is to see the fashion of the day on celluloid.  We may be dealing with criminals here, but they are not common street thugs, and they dress well to the man.  And, to the women, as the actresses are also quite fashionable.  Beyond that, the film also employs Mini Coopers (the old ones), which ought to appeal to car buffs.

I find myself without a ton to say about "The Italian Job."  I liked it this time around, too, but it's a fairly slight film (in the same way that Steve McQueen's "The Thomas Crown Affair" is), and the heist itself is less of a thriller than a slapstick sequence that could have appeared on Benny Hill's show (which is appropriate, since he has a decent role in the film).  It's long on style, goes by quickly, and has a fantastic ending.  The dialogue is snappy.  The clothes and cars are fantastic.  The best compliment that I can pay it is to say that the film recognizes it's strengths, sticks with them, and doesn't overly complicate matters beyond that.

3.5 / 5 - TV

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