On the case of the 1969 classic 'The Italian Job'

For a film that is almost entirely about driving it was ironic that the star of the 1969 classic The Italian Job, Michael Caine couldn’t drive. If you go back and watch the film from start to finish, you will not see his character Charlie Croker drive at all.

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While that is a nice bit of trivia the fact the production did a lot of blatantly illegal things to make the film happen almost overshadows the greatness of the heist in the film altogether.

When production wanted the authorities to close down some roads so the iconic car work could be filmed they refused; so the Italian mafia decided to help out the production and took it upon themselves to block the roads for the shoot. When you see the traffic jams and the great acting of the people stuck in it, it’s because it’s 100 per cent real and those people are not happy.

Director Peter Collinson also failed to inform the proper authorities that there would be cars driving through the palazzo as he only stated that there would be some “machinery”. It may have been a small fib to make sure there was some iconic photography.

The film would take the invention of home video to become successful as the marketing for the movie let it down on its initial release. When Michael Caine arrived in the United States to promote the film he saw a poster of a scantily clad woman kneeling in front of a member of the mafia holding a machine gun he was so disgusted that he hopped back on a plane and went back to England. If the studio didn’t understand the film how was the US audience supposed to?

While it did take a few years for it to become a cult classic, there is no doubt that while they were only meant to “blow the bloody doors off” they actually blew the minds of audiences for years to come.

Did you see The Italian Job when it first came out in 1969? What movies from that year did you enjoy most?