The Italian Job (1969) Review
The Italian Job
3 Sep 1969
Behind the Scene and other Major Plot Points
BMC (British Motor Corporation), the owners of the Mini, refused to donate any cars to the film. The boss of Fiat Motors, offered to donate all the cars they needed, including Fiat 500s in place of the Minis. The director, however, decided that, as it was a very British film, it should be British Minis. Fiat’s boss still donated scores of cars for filming, as well as the factory grounds, and even though the authorities refused to close the roads, the Italian Mafia stepped in, and shut whole sections of Turin down for filming, so the traffic jams in the film are real, as are people’s actions during it.
Michael Caine never seen driving a car in this movie
This is a movie primarily about cars and driving. Michael Caine could not drive at the time the movie was made, and in fact, he is never seen driving a car. The only time in the movie that Charlie Croker is assumed to be driving, is the cut between when he picks up his Aston Martin at the garage, and in the next shot, when we see it arrive outside the hotel. But Michael Caine gets out of a stationary Aston Martin after a further cut. Throughout the drive to Turin, and the entire heist, Croker is always a passenger.
According to Michael Caine (U.S. box-office)
, the film did not perform well at the U.S. box-office, due to a misleading advertising campaign. The U.S. poster featured a scantily-clad woman with a map on her back kneeling in front of a Mafioso holding a machine gun. While promoting the film in the U.S., Caine saw the poster, and became so upset, that he immediately flew home to England.
The scene between Charlie Croker and the garage owner, was entirely improvised by Michael Caine and John Clive.
Fiat immediately saw the potential for product promotion in this movie
, and offered an unlimited supply of Fiat 500s, plus top-of-the-line Lamborghinis and Ferraris, plus 50,000 dollars, if the producers would use the Italian cars instead of the Minis. The Minis stayed, because they were seen as quintessentially British, and one of the themes of the movie is us vs. them, i.e. Britain versus the rest of Europe.
Preparation for the climactic cliff-hanger sequence
The road used for the climactic cliff-hanger sequence, led only to a restaurant. The first day of shooting was a Saturday, brilliantly sunny, and the shoot went off without a hitch. On the next day, however, a huge line of cars appeared at the bottom of the road. The restaurant was hugely popular on Sundays. Some disgruntled drivers eventually broke through the police cordon and the shoot had to be aborted. Over the next two weeks, it rained steadily, and the snowline came down the mountain by approximately 250 feet. By the time the shot was completed, the crew had to sweep snow from the road.
In a 2003 UK movie survey, Charlie Croker’s (Michael Caine’s) line, “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!” was voted the most memorable line in any film.
The start of the anticipated sequel
According to the DVD commentary, although never formally planned, the start of the anticipated sequel resolved the cliffhanger ending of the original, by having the Mafia arrive in helicopters and lifting the bus back onto the road to recover the gold (incidentally rescuing Charlie and the gang). The rest of the movie would then involve Charlie’s crew pulling a second heist to steal the gold back from the Mafia.
Marketing for the film
Marketing in the UK included a book of the film novelization, a vinyl of the filMm’s soundtrack, and replicas of the Minis displayed in foyers in selected cinemas.
Voted #36 on the BFI’s 100 Greatest British Films of the twentieth century.
RT/Meta Critic Review
Is there a film – certainly a British film – that delivers a greater infusion of pure joy than The Italian Job?