Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers.

The Italian Job is a comedy caper film from 1969 directed by Peter Collinson, which is very famous and highly popular in the UK and has a cult following in the UK and other parts of the world. It stars Michael Caine as dapper criminal boss Charlie Croker and Noel Coward as the criminal mastermind in jail. Playing a very minor role as one of the gang was Robert Powell in his first big screen role. Benny Hill also featured, playing the computer expert Professor Peach. The plot is based around a British gang who stage a gold bullion robbery in Turin by sabotaging the traffic-control computer and escaping, in spite of the resulting traffic jam, by using Mini getaway cars and a carefully planned route. Set in London and Turin and filmed in Technicolor, the film is considered to be very stylish, capturing the essence of the swinging sixties. The film opens with the song On Days Like These, by Matt Monro.

One notable aspect of the film is that the gang is seen planning the heist and getaway, with an incompetence that exasperates Croker. In the silence after a devastatingly over-exuberant explosives test obliterates an armoured vehicle, comes the film's catch phrase: "You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!"

The film is also famous for its city-based stunts (arranged by Equipe Rémy Julienne) involving the Minis, and its dramatic destruction of expensive Lamborghini, Aston Martin and Jaguar sports cars in the stunning Alpine setting.

The getaway sequence is the film's highlight, and was arranged to take in as many sights of Turin as possible. After the heist, the gang transfer the gold to the Minis in the entrance hall of the Museum of Egypt. The three Minis then race through the stylish shopping arcades of the Via Roma, up the sail-like roof of the Palazzo Vela, around the rooftop test track of the famous Fiat Lingotto building and even down the steps of the Gran Madre di Dio church while a wedding is in progress. They finally escape the city by driving through large sewers, throwing off the police in the process. (This part of the stunt action was mundanely filmed at a large waterworks on the outskirts of Coventry). The gang make their final getaway on a coach - driving up a ramp on the back whilst the coach is stil traveling at speed. The getaway Minis are then pushed out of the still- moving coach as it negotiates hairpin bends. In fact the getaway sequence makes no sense in terms of the geographical layout of Turin. This does not detract from the enjoyment of the film however.

Successfully on their way to Switzerland, the gang celebrate in the back of the bus as the distinctive theme tune by Quincy Jones begins. The main theme is titled "Getta Bloomin' Move-On" but this tune and variations of it are played several times throughout the film and it is usually referred to as "The Self Preservation Society" song. A mistake by the driver sends the coach into a skid. The film ends with the coach teetering on the edge of the cliff, the gold slipping towards the rear doors, and the audience left not knowing whether the coach, its contents and its occupants survive. A literal cliff-hanger ending.

The film has been criticised for being nationalistic in tone, patriotic to the point of racism. There are also one or two racist jokes in the script, mainly at the expense of the black coach driver Big William, and the Italians in general.

Sequels & remakes

There were plans to do a sequel but, perhaps as to not spoil the ending, these plans were shelved.

A remake of the movie, set in Los Angeles and starring Mark Wahlberg as Charlie Croker, was released in the summer of 2003. It also featured Donald Sutherland, Edward Norton, Charlize Theron, Seth Green, and Mos Def. It made many changes to the original story, replacing the British characters with Americans, moving the action from Turin to Los Angeles, and replacing the ambiguous ending with one that is completely positive. One constant were the Minis, which were merely upgraded to the newer model.

Computer Game

A popular video game based on the film was released in 2002.