Monday, February 22, 2016

Caine Watch: The Italian Job (1969)

Sunday evening, our own SimonUK - who moonlights as a server at The Alamo Drafthouse near my house - was given the opportunity to take it up a notch with their "Staff Presents" program, wherein a member of the staff not usually in programming selects a movie and the Alamo shows it.

You like movies.  I like movies.  We all like movies.  Simon LOVES movies.  He lives amongst piles of them and may well have underwear made of celluloid taped into a rough briefs shape.  I don't know.  And, no matter how many movies you think you've seen, Simon has seen more.  During the Alamo pre-shows when they're showing clips of deep-cut obscure 1970's horror flicks, Simon has seen them all.

Simon is from some far-flung part of England I can never remember, so he had access to movies we really didn't in the U.S., and he's seen a goodly chunk of American movies we all watched growing up, too.  Every once in a while I'm surprised he hasn't seen something from a typical American kid of the 1980's heyday, but not all that often.  He's been responsible for me seeing a lot of flat out great stuff the past several years, gotten me out of the house for Planet of the Apes marathons, etc...  and for all that and more, and making me eat a Full English Breakfast only once, I am forever in his debt.

So, while I had previously seen The Italian Job (1969), when I heard he was showing and introducing the movie, I couldn't not go.  Plus, I really like the movie.  It's good, cheery fun and a great heist pic.  Plus: Michael Caine.

In addition to Simon, a portion of the Brit Meet-Up Group showed, and while they're mostly puzzled by this very large American in their midst, it's always nice to chat with the ex-pats.  Good folks.  They were able to verify that The Italian Job is, in fact, a huge cult classic in England and that is not just some odd misperception Simon cooked up between pints.

Simon's intro went over just terrifically well, and I am 99.9999% certain it'll earn him a new gig at The Alamo, hopefully doing nothing but showing Michael Caine movies.

If you've not seen The Italian Job, really, some evening when maybe you're looking for just a straight, fun movie that's a bit absurd, still a terrific caper flick and shows yet another facet of Michael Caine (a thousand miles off from Carter here but maybe some Harry Palmer in there) - here's a great selection for you.

Basically, the story is this:  Heist man Charlie Croker has just finished a stint in prison, and is immediately handed the plans to a heist in Turin, Italy by the widow of one of Charlie's old buddies who has been bumped off by the Italian mafia.  It's a near impossible job, but that's half the attraction, and the rewards are huge.  He goes about recruiting his team, getting funding and support from a gentleman crime-lord (in the same prison Charlie just left and played by Noel Coward), and goes about executing the heist.  What more need be said?

It's a light comedy with some great character bits, and is most famous for the completely bonkers heist and the involvement of three Mini-Coopers painted red, white and blue, zipping about inappropriately all over Turin.  Worth catching for what looks like some real-life Mario Kart.

I enjoyed the hell out of the movie again on a second viewing, and it was great to watch with a crowd that was about 40% new to the movie and 100% into it.

So, great night out at the cinema.

On a sad note, PaulT (who also came out to see a flick and support Simon) informs me the film's Cinematographer, Douglas Slocombe, who also worked on the first three Indiana Jones pictures, died on Monday.   But at age 103, so we're calling it a good run.

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