Stars: Michael Caine, Noel Coward, Benny Hill, Raf Vallone, Tony Beckley
Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Rating: G (General Audience)
Runtime: 99 minutes
The Italian Job (2003) Though it bears little resemblance to the original 1969 thriller starring Michael Caine, the 2003 remake of The Italian Job stands on its own as a caper comedy that's well above average. The title's a misnomer--this time it's actually a Los Angeles job--but the action's just as exciting as it propels a breezy tale of honor and dishonor among competing thieves. Inheriting Caine's role as ace heist-planner Charlie Croker, Mark Wahlberg plays straight-man to a well-cast team of accomplices, including Mos Def, Jason Statham, and scene-stealer Seth Green in a variation of the role originally played by Noel Coward. As the daughter of Croker's ill-fated mentor (Donald Sutherland), Charlize Theron is recruited to double-cross a double-crosser (Edward Norton in oily villain mode), and once again, speedily versatile Mini Coopers play a pivotal role in director F. Gary Gray's exhilarating car-chase climax. It's perhaps the greatest product placement in movie history, and just as fun the second time around. --Jeff Shannon The Italian Job (1969) This little-known cult caper is about as depraved as they come. Michael Caine, ever the enterprising swinger and swindler, has an ingenious plan to steal a huge cache of Chinese gold to be shipped to Turin as collateral for a new Fiat plant. Since the Italy-Great Britain soccer match is being played at the same time, Caine wants to create a diversion in the form of a monumental traffic jam. For financing, he turns to Noel Coward, who directs British criminal enterprises from his jail cell. A motley crew is assembled, including Benny Hill as a computer expert with a fetish for large-breasted women. It's all a nasty and fun parody, with the most memorable robbery-chase sequence in the history of the caper genre. --Bill Desowitz
We've come here to pay our respects to Great Aunt Nellie. She brought us up properly and taught us loyalty. Now I want you to remember that during these next few days. I also want you to remember that if you don't come back with the goods, Nellie here will turn in her grave, and, likely as not, jump right out of it and kick your teeth in.