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THE ITALIAN JOB
As the red, white and blue Mini Coopers rock from side to side along a tunnel, with £4 million in gold bullion in their boots and Quincy Jones's infectious score swinging away in the background, ask yourself this: is there a film - certainly a British film - that delivers a greater infusion of pure joy than The Italian Job?
A flashy, fast romp that chases a team of career criminals throughout one of the biggest international gold heists to ever appear on film. The unparalleled Michael Caine is arresting, leading a cast that truly embodies the Swinging ‘60s, including Britannia’s premier export Noël Coward (In Which We Serve 1942), dripping aristocratic disdain in his final film role, and the late, great Benny Hill (The Benny Hill Show).
Charlie Croker (Caine), is a stylish thief fresh out of prison. He takes over “The Italian Job”, a complicated plan to steal gold bullion from Italy, right from underneath the noses of the Italian Police and the Mafia. Combining action, humour, and an incontrovertible sense of style, this is undoubtedly one of the quintessential British caper films of the 1960s.
Winner of the prestigious Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1966, Alfie is the movie that rocketed Michael Caine to stardom, cemented his image as a cockney sex-symbol and gave him one of his most enduring catchphrases - so much so he called his autobiography "What's It All About?" The role of womanising cad Alfie Elkins fit the then 33-year-old Londoner like a glove and earned him his first Oscar nomination.
Alfie is a charming, rogueish and seemingly cynical Cockney who cannot get his fill of women. He uses them without shame or malice, jumping from one bed to another without much thought or feeling. Of course, Alfie is not as carefree as he would have the audience think.
Based on the play by Bill Naughton, Lewis Gilbert's film broke new ground by interspersing its anti-hero's conquests with frank and witty confessionals delivered straight to camera. Such is Caine's ease in front of the lens that this theatrical device works beautifully on-screen, especially when Alfie begins to query the value of his rootless, carefree existence. Hugely entertaining, Alfie is both a British classic and a valuable record of the hedonistic swinging 60s.
Tuesday 23rd October