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The Italian Job

Plot Overview

A Lamborghini Miura driving through the Italian Alps enters a tunnel from which it doesn't emerge intact, the driver Roger Becker­mann's (Rossano Brazzi) cigarette butt and shades adorning the road­side, along with a wreath deposited by the Mafia. “It wasn't an accident.” They did not like his planned Italian job in their territory.

The torch passes to his acolyte Charlie Croker (Michael Caine) who has just been released from prison (“Cheerio, lads!”) and decides to go through with his mentor's plans as a matter of national pride as the British are playing the Italians a foot­ball match the very day of a scheduled gold delivery in Turin, industrial capital of Italy. It will be “a city in chaos, a smash & grab raid, and $4 million through a traffic jam.

Charlie's girlfriend Lorna (Maggie Blye) gives him “a coming out present.” of several gorgeous birds for a night of sin, but she will strenuously object when he has a repeat with a few on his own. Anglo­philes every­where rejoiced when the founding fathers of the American colonies instituted a government embodying several freedoms, but when in the 1960s—Job came out in 1969—we Americans endeavored to give civil rights to Negroes as well, there was a spot of trouble concerning integration, who sat where on the bus. “The Italian Job” is uncannily smooth-going until the end when black get­away driver Big William forces a segre­gation on the coach leaving their future uncertain.


In the 1960s racial integration became a big issue, particularly in the American South where Negroes were required to ride in the back of the (public) bus. The line of demarcation, how­ever, was not fixed but could be established by the driver. One day a seam­stress named Rosa Parks was tired after a day of work and decided to hold her ground when the driver asked her to move farther back. Civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) seized on this incident to make it a cause célèbre that Negroes were tired of racial segregation period. The clergy did not like his con­fron­tational tactics and challenged him. MLK responded with his Letter From Birmingham Jail respecting and answering their challenge.

Although “The Italian Job” is not about that per se, it did come out in the time frame of the 1960s and it does lend itself to discussion of this issue from the perspective of the clergy, or of the house­hold of faith for that matter. To some strident complaints of some wanting to sit up front with the driver, Charlie decides, “Every­body is going to sit in back of the motor.” Having to sit in the back is not that unusual an experience. In the end Big William so drives the six-wheeled Har­ring­ton Legion­naire-bodied Bed­ford VAL coach that the gold is segregated in the back from the passengers in front, and they need to redis­tribute it but slowly. The clergy's approach of gradualism was rejected by MLK who touted "the fierce urgency of NOW!" How­ever, some­times for safety that is the way to proceed (“Very slowly move this way.”)

What really furthers this discussion, though, is their needed computer expert Professor Simon Peach (Benny Hill.) “Not to put too fine a point on it,” his sister says, “He's in a home” for having done “some­thing quite obscene with Annette.” She never elaborates but we do find him to be a voyeur (with tele­scope and mirrors) and not averse to some oppor­tun­istic groping. This is very reminiscent of Noah's son Ham of whom the Bible spares us all the details, but we can figure some of it out.

Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and these three fathered the human race alive today. From Shem, for instance, came White Europeans (and others). Ham's descendants settled largely in Africa becoming the black races. Part of the order of society Noah passed on to them is found in Gen. 9:26-27. Shem was blessed and Japheth was integrated with him in that blessing. In our age of political correctness, we like to include Ham also in the blessing of integration, and we don't like talk of slavery pertaining to Ham's son Canaan.

In the Noah story, there's an incident recorded in Gen. 9:22-23 concerning Noah's covering. Noah didn't like what Ham had done to him and spoke accordingly, Gen. 9:24-25, but seemed to take it out on Ham's son Canaan instead of his father. Tradition­ally, Canaan's slavery was representative of his whole family. The account spares us the grizzly details, and in “The Italian Job” we're glad to be spared the details to get the ‘G’ rating. How­ever, in both incidents there was voyeurism involved and some­thing physical as well, groping or what­ever, Gen. 9:24, “what his [Noah's] younger son had done unto him.”

Today as I write this forty-five years after this movie came out we've settled into modern routines and don't discuss racial segregation's fundamentals any­more. We've moved on to marriage equality, but surprisingly this movie also helps us define those terms. Gay definition The tone of the caper's execution is gay in the sense of exuberant happiness, especially from the cheers inside the prison. This gaiety trans­fers to a wedding spilling out of the Gran Madre di Dio church when the three Mini Coopers buzz the wedding party. A couple would normally wish for gaiety in their marriage­—i.e., (Eccl. 9:9) “Live joyfully with the wife.” There­fore to avoid confusion we should not say "gay marriage" if we mean same-sex marriage, unless we're calling it a happy one. Catholic weddings are required to take place inside a Catholic church to cement the religious seriousness of the union, some­thing same-sex partners are excluded from, so marriage-equality is like­wise a mis­nomer when applied to same-sex unions. For that matter even hetero­sexual marriages are not all equal being differentiated between sacramental marriages inside a Catholic church and non-sacramental marriages out­side one. 1 Corinthians 7They have religious parity, though, in that either sacra­mental or non- enable a hetero­sexual couple to avoid fornication, as per 1Cor. 7:2. Same-sex marriages, where they are allowed, afford a couple only civil parity with a hetero­sexual married couple. In this movie they would also share the definition with marriage of head-gear and head when Charlie tells his troops to don their helmets, marrying them to their skulls so to speak. The word marriage is applicable to the close union of any two objects with no religious subtext meant.

Production Values

“The Italian Job” (1969) is a "caper film." It was directed by Peter Collinson, written by Troy Kennedy-Martin, and stars Michael Caine, Noel Coward, and Benny Hill. The back­ground musical score is by Quincy Jones. The title song is a simple but effective number by Matt Munro. The Mini Cooper get­away cars were all three driven by experts doing lots of cute tricks. Superb editing brought the action forward to a cliff­hanger conclusion, but the sequel has never materialized. It was econ­omic­ally shot using every scene save one.

Review Conclusion w/ Consumer Recommendation

“The Italian Job” blends tension, action, comedy, emotion, suspense, and plot twists while being entertaining and bemusing. It's heavy on British humor and light on realism. I altogether enjoyed it and recommend it over any remake that may have been done.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed fun Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: Four stars out of five.