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Monday, May 18, 2009

THE ITALIAN JOB (1969)


Fans of the effective 2003 remake (see below) will recognize the genesis of a few action sequences (a race thru some spectacular mountain scenery, a clever getaway featuring cute Mini-Coopers driving seriously off-road), but this far simpler iteration of classic heist caper tropes doesn’t live up to its potential. Back in ‘69, the stunt driving and crashes were largely real, but the camera set-ups & editing hardly do them justice under Peter Collinson ‘s sub-par megging. And while the cast looks good on paper (Michael Caine, Noël Coward, Raf Vallone), the script gives them little to work with. (Caine does have a funny moment when he gets over-emotional sending his ‘bird’ home.) Fortunately, Douglas Slocombe ‘s lensing makes the whole show a pleasure to watch, especially the late Swinging ‘Sixties haberdashery; and there’s a bit of real cultural history in a trick ending that helped sound the death knell for the old Hollywood Production Code.

NOTE: Extra fun for kids who want to know where Austin Power's groovy stylings & sexual attitudes came from.

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