When The Italian Job was released in the UK, it didn't receive many blistering reviews, in fact it was quite the opposite. The British film review press elite thought it to be unpolished and rather rude. Despite the bad press, many individual cinemas put in a lot of work to promote the film - displaying Mini Coopers on stairways and even on the roof of foyers. Even though it wasn't a smash hit, it was nominated for a Golden Globe for 'Best English Language Foreign Film' in 1969.

One reason that has been cited for it's lack of popularity was the publicity campaign, especially in the US. The US (and some European) posters feature a hard looking Michael Caine in a thirties style mobsters outfit with a machine gun in one hand and a cup of tea in the other, flanked by a half naked girl with a plan of Turin on her back! This didn't convey the theme of the film, there wasn't a Mini Cooper in sight nor a mention of Michael Caine except in the small print at the bottom. All this coupled with the very Britishness of the film simply didn't register with the US movie goers, who had no idea of English football or even the Mini itself.

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1969 UK Quad Poster
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1969 US Poster
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1969 German Poster
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1969 Italian Poster

1969 Japanese Poster

1969 Finnish Poster

1969 French Poster

1969 Aussie Poster

1969 Spanish Poster

Back in 1969, little did the critics know that The Italian Job would become a full blown cult movie with later reviews of it's re-release on the 10th September 1999 being nothing short of fan-bloody-tastic. In an interview with The Sunday Times, writer Troy Kennedy Martin had a stab at explaining why the film had become such a success 30 years on - 'Much of the reason why it's so fashionable right now is today's "Loaded culture", which has made it alright to be a lad again'.

In fact it's a lot more than that. Many critics and columnists have noted various reasons as to why The Italian Job has such a place in the hearts of the British public. It seems to be an amalgamation of reasons, but it's mainly down to the inspired ingredients that were first penned during the films conception, being Caine, the Mini, Football and kicking our continental friends asses, oh and not forgetting the Cockney humour. The film is simply cool, and gets away with the most coveted of movie 'wants' - it is timeless. If the film had never been made in 1969, but was shelved and was made in 1999 in exactly the same way, it would still have been an instant hit.

'...blessed with enough '60's swagger, swinging music and quotable lines to make it
quaint while equal amount of laughs, story-spinning brio and cunning stunt work keep it fresh.'


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The Making of The Italian Job book states that it was a fan's letter that triggered the executives at Paramount to re-release The Italian Job for it's 30th anniversary. Paramount decided to go ahead with it's re-release as the video was due for re-release and they knew it would boost sales. Strangely, not many re-prints of the film were actually made, no more than 30, which left many UK cinemas unable to show the film. Most that had got lucky were London based. This was mainly due to the tight budget that Paramount was working to, they knew it wasn't going to break any box office records and they simply wanted to promote the video sales, even if the film only broke even with ticket sales.

Within the budget, there was enough for the marketing people to produce more up to date material, appealing to the younger audience. Renowned London based design company FERIF was chosen to re-design the poster. FERIF's response to the design brief was to create a poster that would emphasise the 'Cool Britannia' image of the day and appear to be a new film - appealing to those who didn't know the history of the film as well as being recognisable to those who did. Noel Coward didn't feature on the design, to eliminate the 'who's that' question from younger movie goers, instead the limelight was aimed directly at Caine and the Coopers, two icons in their own right. The tight budget even aided the final design, as only flat colours could be used, ensuring that the design wasn't 'over-engineered', resulting in the cult British look that so suited the film.

With the remainder of the budget, a new trailer was edited, Mini and student based events were flyered together with TV and radio advertising. The promotional team had loads of ideas that they simply couldn't fit within the budget. One idea was to get three Minis (red, white and blue of course) to drive around London, so with the budget diminished, they went to Rover to see if they could help out. Amazingly they weren't interested... again, even though they made a fortune cashing in on the cult of the film in 1992 by producing an Italian Job special edition Mini. So Natasha Caine, Michael's younger daughter was commissioned to customise a Mini to promote the film, which was proudly displayed at the premier.

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1999 UK Quad Poster
Natasha Caine was commissioned to create a Mini for the opening of the re-release

Since the 1999 re-release, The Italian Job has been released on various DVD's, some being digitally remastered, some being collectors editions which have included the infamous Blue Danube missing scene together with exclusive documentaries featuring interviews with writer Troy Kennedy Martin, production designer Disley Jones and stunt coordinator Derek Ware (Rozzer), original theatrical trailers and commentary from Producer Michael Deeley and author of 'The Making of Italian Job' book Matthew Field.

The Italian Job is consistently doing well in various official and unofficial 'Top 100' type film polls and getting high ratings on online DVD retailer websites. In 1999, in the midst of "best movies ever" list-mania, The Italian Job was placed 36th when the British Film Institute produced its ranking of the '100 Favourite British Films' spanning the first century of film. Almost 26,000 votes were cast, and the results sparked nearly much debate, mainly because the poll was conducted by the general public, as opposed to critics. Another vote, promoted by Richard Attenborough (also in 1999) attracted 162.000 votes and The Italian Job was placed 54th, not bad when you consider that the poll wasn't just for British films, but all films!

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The US Remake 2003
Although received as a good film in it's own right, the 2003 Hollywood remake can't even be compared to the original. I guess we should be thankful that the early rumours that VW's new Beetle was going to be used instead of Minis didn't materialise. The film features BMW's new Mini and an original red Mini Cooper makes a cameo appearance. Caine is quoted to have liked to play Bridger if there ever was a remake... perhaps he didn't approve of The LA Job!!??

If you're interested in the remake go here: www.italianjobmovie.com
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