20 January 2014

The Italian Job (starring Michael Caine)

I first saw this film over twenty years ago, when - a little ironically - we were living in the US for a couple of years. Some friends invited us over to see the video, assuming we would like it because it was 'so British'. Never good at understanding fast-moving action, I found it very confusing in the early sections, mildly amusing in the middle, frustrating at the end. I wasn't very impressed, although my husband thoroughly enjoyed it.

As I learned later, the 1969 version of 'The Italian Job' is considered a classic. So when it came out on DVD we thought our teenage sons should see it... my husband watched with them, but I decided against it. However, last night some teenage friends asked to watch it, and I though I'd see if time had mellowed my opinion.

The basic plot involves some crooks, ably headed by Michael Caine, who plan - in minute detail - a major robbery in Italy. To do this includes hacking into the traffic control computers to cause a traffic jam. So we have the introduction to this (essentially another crook failing in the attempt), and a lot of discussion about it, and some preparation, and then the actual day. There's a lot of fast action, some of it very cleverly choreographed, and some mildly amusing sections although they mostly involve some kind of slapstick violence.

So it's an action film involving cars, which is fine; not my taste, as there's little room for character development, but suitable for most viewers... I had a hard time understanding what was going on in the early sections, but the essential plot was pretty clear. But what surprised me was the number of fluffy girls involved in the first part. Everything that happened was clearly behind closed doors with no detail, but still the implied activities of the hero were sleazy, and totally unnecessary as they didn't add anything at all. Indeed, they were very demeaning to the girls in question. The UK rating for 'The Italian Job' is PG, which seems about right, although I would probably have said 12 myself, given that there are a few mild swear words, a great deal of violence (albeit non-gory) and some implied sex.

What did surprise me was to learn that the US censors, usually more prudish than the UK ones, rated this as G - suitable for all.

On the whole I thought the film was quite watchable, given the genre. I had forgotten almost everything in it other than the ending, and that wasn't as frustrating as it was the first time since I knew what was coming. Our young friends were shocked when the titles rolled at the end, leaving the film (literally) on a cliff-hanger... but overall they enjoyed it very much.

We then watched the classic 'deleted scene' with a band playing the Blue Danube while cars 'danced' ... that alone made it worthwhile, in my view!

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

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