The Italian Job

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The Italian Job
The Italian Job rerelease.jpg
Original theatrical release poster
Directed byPeter Collinson
Written byTroy Kennedy Martin
Produced byMichael Deeley
CinematographyDouglas Slocombe
Edited byJohn Trumper
Music byQuincy Jones
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • 5 June 1969 (1969-06-05)
Running time
99 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget$3 million[citation needed]
Box office$113,867[2][better source needed]

The Italian Job is a 1969 British comedy caper film, written by Troy Kennedy Martin, produced by Michael Deeley and directed by Peter Collinson. It tells the story of Charlie Croker (Michael Caine), the leader of a cockney criminal gang released from prison with the intention of doing a "big job" in Italy to steal gold bullion from an armoured security truck.

Its soundtrack was composed by Quincy Jones, and includes "On Days Like These" sung by Matt Monro over the opening credits, and "Getta Bloomin' Move On" (usually referred to as "The Self-Preservation Society", after its chorus) during the climactic car chase. Lead actor Michael Caine is among its singers.[3]

The cliffhanger where the coach load of gold is hanging over the edge of a cliff is one of the most discussed end scenes in film.[4][5] The popularity of the film has led to parodies and allusions in other films and productions, including a 2003 remake, an 2005 episode of The Simpsons titled "The Italian Bob", and a re-enactment of the Mini Cooper car-chase in the MacGyver episode "Thief of Budapest".[6][7][8]

The film has inspired the charity event The Italian Job which has taken place annually since 1990. It involves Minis and other vehicle types featured in the original film, driving from the UK to northern Italy and back, visiting Grand Prix circuits, historic Italian cities and the locations in Turin featured in the film, while fundraising for children's charities. The event has raised nearly £3,000,000 so far.[9] Marking the 50th anniversary of the film, in June 2019, stunt drivers in red, white and blue Coopers recreated parts of the film's car-chase around Turin at the grounds of Mini's Oxford factory.[10]


Charlie Croker meets up with the widow of fellow thief Roger Beckermann, who was murdered by the Mafia. Mrs. Beckermann gives Croker her husband's plans for the robbery he was killed for, a way to steal $4 million in gold in Turin.

Croker breaks into his former prison to convince the crime lord Mr. Bridger to finance the job. Bridger agrees. Croker recruits computer expert Professor Peach and a team of thieves and drivers. The plan calls for Peach to replace the programme in the computer that controls Turin's traffic control system, creating a traffic jam that will allow the thieves to escape with the gold.

After planning and training, Croker, his girlfriend Lorna, and the heist crew set out for Turin. They first head to France. Mafia boss Altabani and his underlings are waiting in the Alps. Altabani warns Croker that the Mafia are aware of the gang's intentions and smashes their getaway cars off a cliff. Just as Altabani is about to give the order to shoot the gang, Croker tells him that Mr. Bridger will avenge their deaths. Altabani lets them go, ordering them to return to England and believing that it is too big a job for Croker to undertake. Instead, Croker proceeds with the plan, and arrives in Turin. He creates a blackout that allows the team to sneak into the traffic control center and replace its magnetic tape data storage reels. The next day, Peach gets arrested for molesting a woman on a tram, while Charlie sends Lorna onto a plane to Geneva to protect her and the plan.

The gold is loaded onto an armoured truck and drives through the city, escorted by an armoured car, two police motorcycles, and police car. As Altabani follows it in his car, Croker sends gang member Birkinshaw, disguised as a football fan, to jam the closed circuit television cameras that monitor traffic. The substitute reel causes widespread traffic chaos, resulting in Altabani losing the convoy. The gang converge on the convoy, overpower the guards, and tow the armoured car into the entrance hall of the Museo Egizio, where they transfer the gold into three Mini Coopers. The police smash down the doors, but the crew takes off in two teams, rush through Turin pursued by the police. The Minis escape by a planned route and drive into the back of a moving coach. They unload the gold and dispose of the Minis.

The other team rendezvous with the coach in the Alps. However, on the twisty mountain roads, "Big" William loses control of the coach. The back of the bus teeters over a cliff and the gold slides towards the rear doors. As Croker attempts to reach the gold, it slips further. Croker announces: "Hang on a minute lads, I've got a great idea.”



According to a "Making Of" documentary,[11] producer Deeley was unsatisfied with the four written endings and conceived the current ending as a literal cliffhanger appropriate to an action film which left an opportunity for a sequel. The documentary describes how helicopters would save the bus seen on the cliff at the end of the first film. In interviews in 2003 and 2008, Michael Caine revealed that the ending would have had Croker "crawl up, switch on the engine and stay there for four hours until all the petrol runs out... The van bounces back up so we can all get out, but then the gold goes over."[12]

In 2008, the Royal Society of Chemistry held a competition for a solution that had a basis in science, was to take not more than 30 minutes and did not use a helicopter.[13] The idea was to promote greater understanding of science, and to highlight the 100th anniversary of the periodic table, on which gold is one of the 118 elements.[12] The winning entry, by John Godwin of Surrey, was: Break and remove two large side windows just aft of the pivot point and let the glass fall outside to lose its weight; break two windows over the two front axles, keeping the broken glass on board to keep its weight for balance; let a man out on a rope through the front broken windows (not to rest his weight on the ground) who deflates all the bus's front tyres, to reduce the bus's rocking movement about its pivot point; drain the fuel tank, which is aft of the pivot point, which changes the balance enough to let a man get out and gather heavy rocks to load the front of the bus. Unload the bus. Wait until a suitable vehicle passes on the road, hijack it, and carry the gold away in it.[14]


The roof of the Palavela in Turin (pictured in 1961) where the three Minis are pursued by a police car before they go back down it and escape

The interior of the prison that held Bridger was Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin, Ireland. The exterior, seen when Croker leaves, is HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs in west London. Upon his release, Croker stays at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in Bayswater, London. Denbigh Close, Notting Hill, W11, was used as the location for Croker's home.[15]

The training sessions shown for the Mini drivers were at the Crystal Palace race track in Upper Norwood, South London. The attempt to blow off the doors of the bullion van, which caused its total destruction and produced Croker's line "You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!", took place at Crystal Palace Sports Centre. The Crystal Palace transmitter can be seen in the background. The meeting at the misty funeral was filmed in Cruagh Cemetery, in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains. The office block that doubled as the Turin traffic control centre was Apex House, the Hanworth, Middlesex head office of the television rental chain Thorn (DER).[11]

A display of a Mini emerging from a sewer tunnel in Coventry Transport Museum

The chase sequences were filmed in Turin, except for the chase through the sewer tunnel, which was shot in the Sowe Valley Sewer Duplication system in the Stoke Aldermoor district of Coventry in the English Midlands, filmed from the back of a Mini Moke.[11] The person on the far side who closes the gate at the end of sewer tunnel is the director, Peter Collinson. Collinson also appeared in the scene on the highway when the ramps get jettisoned, clinging to the right-hand rear door of the coach as the Minis enter at speed.[11]

A portion of the car chase was filmed as a dance between the Minis and police cars with a full orchestra playing "The Blue Danube" inside Pier Luigi Nervi's Palazzo Esposizioni, usually used for the Turin Motor Show (and now a hospital library).[11]

The final escape from Turin was filmed on the road to Ceresole Reale via Lago Agnel and Nivolet Pass (the highway does not lead to France or Switzerland because it is a dead end).


Minis on display at Bardney Heritage Centre

Roger Beckermann's orange Lamborghini Miura in the opening scene is actually two cars. The first was a Miura P400 that was sold as new afterwards. In 2015, it was located and authenticated by classic car expert Iain Tyrrell.[16] The second car, tumbled down the chasm by the Mafia bulldozer, was another Miura that had previously been in a serious accident and was not roadworthy. Lamborghini confirmed in May 2019 that the Italian Job Miura had chassis number 3586.[17]

Gold cost $38.69 per troy ounce in 1968,[18] so four million dollars in gold bars would have weighed about 3200 kg (7000 lb), requiring each of the three Minis to carry about 1070 kg (2300 lb) in addition to the driver and passenger. Since a 1968 Mini only weighs 630 kg (1400 lb), each of these vehicles would have had to carry 1+12 times its own weight in gold.[19]

The original DB4 belongs today to a private English collection. According to several sources, the "Aston" pushed off the cliff was a Vignale Lancia Flaminia mocked up as an Aston. The two E-type Jaguars that suffered from the Mafia's revenge were restored to original condition.[20]

A Land Rover Series IIa Station Wagon, registration BKO 686C, was used to get to the convoy before attacking and was modified with window bars and a towbar. A Ford Thames 400E was used for the football fans' decorated van; this was referred to as the Dormobile, the name of a common camper-van conversion coachbuilder. The cross-Channel ferry featured in one scene is the MS Free Enterprise I. The ship spent many years as a day cruise ship in Greek waters before being scrapped in 2013. The "Chinese" plane delivering the gold to Turin is a rare Douglas C-74 Globemaster, of which only 14 were built and only four passed into private ownership. It had been abandoned in Milan by its owners and was moved to Turin for filming. It was destroyed by fire in 1970.[21]


The music for the soundtrack was written by Quincy Jones. The opening theme, "On Days Like These", had lyrics by Don Black and was sung by Matt Monro. The closing theme, "Get a Bloomin' Move On" (AKA "The Self Preservation Society"), was performed by the cast and had lyrics featuring Cockney Rhyming Slang. Many incidental themes are based on British patriotic songs, such as "Rule, Britannia!", "The British Grenadiers" and "God Save the Queen".


The film opened at the Plaza Cinema in London on 5 June 1969.[1]


Poster for the American release of the film. The relative lack of success for the film in the United States was blamed partially on what was seen as an unattractive and misleading advertising campaign.

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 81% and an average rating of 7.4/10, based on 31 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Italian Job is a wildly fun romp that epitomizes the height of Britannia style."[22] On Metacritic it has a score of 70% based on reviews from 10 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews.[23] Most positive reviews focus on the climactic car chase and the acting of both Michael Caine and Noël Coward, complementing Peter Collinson's directing. It is considered highly evocative of 1960s London and the era in Britain as a whole.[24] In a modern review Nik Higgins of Future Movies claims that the film makes Austin Powers's wardrobe appear 'drab and grey'. He compliments Michael Caine's ability to effectively portray the character of Charlie.[25]

In 1999, it was ranked #36 on the BFI Top 100 British films by the British Film Institute. In November 2004, Total Film named The Italian Job the 27th greatest British film of all time.[26] In 2011, it was voted the best British film in a poll of film fans conducted by Sky Movies HD.[27] The line "You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!" by Caine was voted favourite film one-liner in a 2003 poll of 1,000 film fans.[28] One of the most discussed end scenes in film, what happened to the coachload of gold teetering over the edge of a cliff, has been debated in the decades since the film was released.[29][30]

Vincent Canby, writing at the time of the film's release, felt that the caper film had been made before and much better as well. He complimented the film's technological sophistication, only criticising what he saw as an 'emotionally retarded' plot. Canby also expressed concern that Coward's appearance in the film, although intended to be kind, 'exploits him in vaguely unpleasant ways' by surrounding his character with images of the royal family, which had not knighted him at the time. A contemporary review in Time magazine felt that the film spent too much time focusing on the film's caper as opposed to building the characters; it also criticised the car chases as 'dull and deafening'.[31]

The movie was the 14th most popular at the UK box office in 1969.[32] Although it received a Golden Globe nomination for "Best English-Language Foreign Film", the film was not a success in the US. The film remains popular, however. James Travers of Films de France believes that the film's enduring appeal rests in the 'improbable union' of Michael Caine, Noël Coward and Benny Hill, whom he considers "three of the best known [British] performers... in the late 1960s". He states that the film has a cult status and stands as a 'classic of its genre'.[24]


Since 2000, there have been two remakes of the film. The first was released in 2003 and also called The Italian Job, set in Los Angeles and starring Mark Wahlberg as Charlie Croker. It features Donald Sutherland as John Bridger, played as more of a father figure to Croker. It employs the updated Mini Cooper for a chase towards the end. An official Bollywood remake of the 2003 film, called Players, was released in 2012.[33]

The artwork Hang On A Minute Lads, I've Got A Great Idea by Richard Wilson on the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, England.

There is a video game based on the 1969 film, released for the PlayStation game console in 2001 and Microsoft Windows in 2002 and published by Rockstar Games. The film was also the subject of a play, Bill Shakespeare's "The Italian Job", written by Malachi Bogdanov, who used lines from Shakespeare plays to tell the story. It was performed in 2003 at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.[34]

Michael Caine's performance and 'bloody doors' line has been parodied in several British comedies, and in a music video for Pick a Part That's New by Stereophonics. Large portions of the car chase scenes were lifted directly from the film for use in the MacGyver episode "Thief of Budapest" (Series 1, Ep 3) with the main characters setting up the story with three Minis visible at the start of the episode. Most of the end of the episode is footage from The Italian Job.[35]

As part of a celebration of British culture at 2012 Summer Olympics, which were held in London, a replica of the bus was made and was exhibited balanced on the edge of the roof of The De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea.[36] The dialogue and car blowing up scene were shown at the closing ceremony.[37]

In September 2016, NBC and Paramount Television began work on a TV series inspired by the original and the remake,[38] though this never surpassed the development stage.[39] In 2001, author Matthew Field released a book The Making of The Italian Job,[40] and to celebrate 50 years since the film's release he has published a new and updated version, The Self Preservation Society.[41]

In February 2021, it was announced that a sequel TV series would release on Paramount+. It is set to revolve around Croker's grandchildren, who inherit his old safety deposit box, and a quest to find the Italian bullion is reignited. Matt Wheeler will write and executive produce the series, while Donald De Line will produce, after previously doing so for the 2003 remake.[39]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "On This Day: The Italian Job". Art & Hue. 5 June 2018. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  2. ^ "The Italian Job". Box Office Mojo.
  3. ^ "The Film – Soundtrack". The Italian Retrieved 9 September 2007.
  4. ^ "I had a better idea': writer's original finish for 'Italian Job". The Independent. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  5. ^ "At last Michael Caine reveals ending to the Italian Job". The Telegraph. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  6. ^ "As If: 312 (Italian Job)". CBS Interactive. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
  7. ^ "The Simpsons: The Italian Bob". CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 28 March 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
  8. ^ "MacGyver: 103 (Thief of Budapest)". CBS Interactive. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
  9. ^ "The Italian Job". The Italian Job. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  10. ^ "The Italian Job 50th anniversary: exclusive interview with David Salamone". British GQ.
  11. ^ a b c d e The Making of "The Italian Job" at IMDb
  12. ^ a b "Caine reveals Italian Job ending". BBC News. BBC. 29 November 2008. Retrieved 11 August 2009.
  13. ^ Press Office (20 October 2008). ""Italian Job" cliff-hanger solution sought". Royal Society of Chemistry. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  14. ^ Adams, Stephen (23 January 2009). "Cliffhanger climax to The Italian Job solved after 40-year wait". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  15. ^ "Mews News". Lurot Brand. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
  16. ^ "". Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  17. ^ "The Italian Job's lost Lamborghini Miura has been found". Sunday Times Driving. 8 May 2019. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  18. ^ "Hisotical Gold Charts and Data". Kitco. Retrieved 29 May 2006.
  19. ^ Reed, Chris (2003). Complete Classic Mini 1959–2000. Croydon: Motor Racing Publications. ISBN 9781899870608.
  20. ^ Milloy, David. "Tempus Fugit: the vehicles of The Italian Job 50 years on". influx.
  21. ^ Kuris, Jeremy (25 March 2002). "USAF Serial Number Search Results". Aircraft Serial Number Search. Retrieved 26 November 2010.
  22. ^ "The Italian Job (1969)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  23. ^ "The Italian Job". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  24. ^ a b Travers, James. "The Italian Job (1969)". Films de France. Retrieved 16 October 2011.
  25. ^ Huggins, Nik (15 May 2009). "The Italian Job (1969)". Future Movies. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  26. ^ "November 2004: Issue 95". Total Film. Future Publishing. Archived from the original on 29 March 2006. Retrieved 29 May 2006.
  27. ^ Sinclair, Lulu (9 January 2011). "Just The Job: Caine Classic Tops Movie Poll". Sky News. Archived from the original on 24 June 2019. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  28. ^ Paterson, Michael (10 March 2003). "Caine takes top billing for the greatest one-liner on screen". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 8 February 2009.
  29. ^ "I had a better idea': writer's original finish for 'Italian Job". The Independent. Retrieved 1 September 2019.
  30. ^ "At last Michael Caine reveals ending to the Italian Job". The Telegraph. Retrieved 1 September 2019.
  31. ^ "Cinema: Britannia Waives the Rules". Time. 19 September 1969. Retrieved 16 October 2011.
  32. ^ "The World's Top Twenty Films". Sunday Times. 27 September 1970 – via The Sunday Times Digital Archive.
  33. ^ Bhushan, Nyay (23 November 2010). "India to Remake 'The Italian Job'". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  34. ^ Lathan, Peter (2003). "Fringe 2003 Reviews (20)". The British Theatre Guide. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  35. ^ "#34: Thief of Budapest". The MacGyver Project.
  36. ^ "Italian Job | Meridian". ITV News. Archived from the original on 6 July 2012.
  37. ^ "London 2012 Olympic Games end with a party". Channel 4 News. Channel 4. 13 August 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  38. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (28 September 2016). "'The Italian Job' Drama Series Inspired By Movies Set At NBC From Paramount TV". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
  39. ^ a b Otterson, Joe (24 February 2021). "'Italian Job' Sequel Series, 'Love Story' TV Adaptation in the Works at Paramount Plus". Variety. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  40. ^ Field, Matthew. (2001). The making of The Italian job. Martin, Troy Kennedy, 1932-2009. London: B.T. Batsford. ISBN 0713486821. OCLC 48972127.
  41. ^ FIELD, MATTHEW. (2019). SELF PRESERVATION SOCIETY : 50 years of the italian job. [S.l.]: PORTER PR INTL. ISBN 978-1907085864. OCLC 1099316716.

External links[edit]