I love this movie, but it's taken me a while to realise it.
Of course I"d seen the movie - once - years ago, and although I enjoyed it at the time, I never really thought about it again until a few things happened all at once this year. The first was when The Italian Job was released as a video game. Now I thought this was a fantastic idea as it combined your usual driving game with a plot based around the movie, a really funny Michael Caine dialogue courtesy of excellent impersonator Phil Cornwell, and a unique set of cars including a limousine, a Jaguar and - of course - the Mini Cooper.
Then one day the Mr Men were relaxing in the FFL sauna, smoking cigars and drinking Absinthe, talking about the greatest car chases ever committed to celluloid, when the discussion got around to The Italian Job. And that was it. My mind started wandering. I was starting sentences with "Well- in a Cockney accent (incidentally, the first rule of talking Cockney is to replace all Ls with Ws), I was looking out for Minis on the roads, and I couldn't get the theme tune (the annoyingly catchy "Self Preservation Society") out of my head. I even downloaded it into my mobile phone. Then Christmas happened, and my nearest and dearest had clearly spotted this growing obsession, because my presents included The Italian Job video game and steering wheel, and the movie on video!.
The movie opens in Italy with a Ferrari, mountain roads, a bulldozer and a Mafia funeral. Meanwhile, Charlie Croker (Michael Caine) leaves prison and is offered a job by the recently deceased - steal $4m from a security convoy in Turin. So of course the first thing he must do is break back into prison to get Mr Bridger (Noel Coward) to provide the backing for the job. Croker is given the green light, so he builds up his team and they practice the raid and the escape. Cue the Minis performing stunts and the explosives "expert" blowing up a van, which gets you neatly to the first famous (but least funny) line "You"re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!" Anyway, onto Italy and, to blend in with the English football fans that are in town, the Minis and coaches are painted and draped in red, white and blue.