Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The Italian Job (1969) Commentary

I'm a big fan of the 2003 remake of the same name.  I like heist movies, Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron and Ed Norton.  I also love Mini Coopers.  So it's pretty obvious that I would like that movie.  But I had never seen the Michael Caine original from 1969.  I decided to get a copy of it and give it a go.  While there are many similarities between the two, they are two very different movies.  And they have to be because they are made 34 years apart.  The original is not what I expected.  It's still a decent movie but it took me a bit to get into it because of how it was made.

First, I was expecting a grittier heist movie that was more like The French Connection in tone.  Rather than that, The Italian Job is very much more comedic and light hearted.  It is really really more of a comic romp that has the suave, womanizing Charlie Croker (Michael Caine) trying to pull of this great heist whilst surrounded by complete buffoons.  While the remake has some very good comic bits in it, it focuses more on the action and heist whereas the original seems to be focused more on the comedy.  I should have keyed into this when I saw that Benny Hill was in the opening credits.  And he plays is own pervy self throughout (a part he plays very well).

Second, this movie is very indicative of the era it was made in.  It is your typical sixties movie where characters aren't developed like they are now and things seem very choppy.  There is little exposition and many blanks left between plot points that the viewers are left to figure out on their own.  The acting is also very over the top just like in most movies made in that time.  The only one that seemed believable was Caine which is good because he's almost constantly on screen.  Finally, it's got that typical, "why the hell would they do that" feel to it.  If you've ever seen movies like Hello Down There or The Party, you'll know that these movies tend to follow a coherent plot for a while and then deviate off into some bizarre happening close to the end almost as if the film makers really didn't know how to wrap it up.  The Italian Job does the same thing with no resolution at all for the film.

But, when all is said and done, I didn't feel like I had wasted my time.  It is entertaining enough through its humour and a great car chase with old Mini Coopers that it is worth while for a rainy Sunday afternoon diversion.  See it but don't make it a priority.

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