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  • Daniel Rae

The Italian Job (1969) review


"The Italian Job", Oakhurst Productions, 1969


The experience of this film for me was framed by the idea of appreciation rather than enjoyment or intrigue. Whilst this film doesn't necessarily embrace a tone of parody, I feel that its attempt to create a more self-contained mood to the heist-action genre was ultimately shoddy. Interestingly, however, I think the way in which this is embraced by its cobbled-together treatment is something to appreciate - but no more.

The purposefully awkward tangents of the screenplay highlights how this film aims to position its audiences away from any subtext - Although the tone may be slow-burning, even in its "action sequences", the story fills its space with sporadic montage-esque images that are used to "build up" the heist. Whilst the unorthodox sense of pacing enables the room for the potential of a more engaging line of identification, perhaps by highlighting how Cain's Charlie is acting as a pawn for the institutionalised system that released him into the outside world, the overarching sense of dullness that comes from attempting to subvert genre tropes through this structure and presentation of its conflicts underlines the direction of the film's writing being removed from such form of connection to the audience.

This blurry sense of identity can even be seen with Charlie himself - how he's represented and his position as a tool for the cause-and-effect progression of the story. The fake suaveness that he's draped in through the abundance of low-angles he's shown through, the overtly-British tone of his delivery and the juxtaposition between the Andy Warhol-inspired production design of interiors and the lifeless lighting of exteriors underscores the attempt made to draw likenesses to Ocean 11's Danny in order to play about with iconographical status in popular culture. Whilst there is certain imagery of indulgence that is used to characterise the 1st act, the stylistic variation present here with its refreshingly bold colour palettes is never returned to.

Overall, its hard to pin down Collinson's artistic merit through the drawn-out and occasionally tedious nature of the film's blase attitude. The way in which this story tries to incorporate into a world so ridiculously realistic to the spectators in an attempt to underline the campy foundation of the genre's existence is admirable, however this does not pan out into anything engaging, thrilling or even witty, as the over and underrepresentation of certain genre archetypes try to imply.


2/5 Stars

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