1969 - Dir: Peter Collinson
Shown at The FeckenOdeon on 23rd February, 2008
Since the FeckenOdeon opened its doors people have been asking to see the original 1969 version of “The Italian Job”. The film distributors refused our booking requests because they were keen to promote the newer version (2003). The remake predictably turned out to be an Americanised damp squib and now the older film is available again. So here it is - complete with the young Michael Caine, the old Noel Coward and those amazing minis (cars and skirts!). If you’ve seen it on the telly you haven’t really seen it - it’s a film that needs the big CinemaScope screen for its maximum impact. Tonight’s print was made for a 1999 re-issue which was scuppered by news of the planned re-make.
“The Italian Job” has a timeless quality. It's fun and it's clever and it's well made. What was considered nothing more than a comic caper when it came out has grown in reputation and stature ever since. It’s well regarded on both sides of the Atlantic but we Brits of a “certain age” probably get more out of it as we recognise a whole army of character actors and remember Swinging England. Pass the rose tinted bifocals please!
· The studio originally wanted Robert Redford to play Charlie Croker
· BMC (British Motor Corporation), the owners of Mini, refused to donate any cars to the film. The boss of Fiat Motors offered to donate all the cars they needed including Fiat 500s in place of the Minis. The director however decided that as it was a very British film, it should be British Minis.
· Noël Coward was not in good health and had a hard time learning lines for the movie, so his partner (Graham Payn) had a cameo role as Bridger's assistant so he could be on hand to help with any problems.
· The film’s director was Noël Coward’s godson. The part of Mr Bridger was in part given to him as a recognition of the role he played in giving the director, who had grown up unhappy in an orphanage, his start in the film business.
· Michael Caine couldn’t drive at the time the movie was made - he is never seen driving a car.