Since a recent popular movie ripped off the mood, characters and most of The Italian Job's plot lock, stock and barrel, it's surprising they waited so long to re-release the original Great British Caper. Besides, who could stop themselves going to see Michael Caine, Noel Coward and Benny Hill together in one picture?
Add red, white and blue Minis, a healthy dollop of Brit football fans abroad, plus some of the sharpest suits the swinging '60s could supply, and you've got a perfect blend of cheery xenophobia, chirpy cockney antics and dry British wit. There's even the terrace-friendly Getta Bloomin' Move On! (featuring memorable chant "This is the self-preservation society"), pre-dating Three Lions by 25 years as the ultimate show of "I'm all right Jack" defiance.
Along with Alfie and Zulu, this is the flick that shows Caine at his finest, while Troy Kennedy Martin's script is pared-down heist-movie perfection. Most capers show an aftermath gone wrong or a protracted training schedule, or concentrate on the rifts between the characters. Yet here the heist is the movie. They plan it briefly ("You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!") and then, for most of the rest, execute it flawlessly. Turin whizzes past in a seemingly endless chase, treating the audience to a driving display Jeremy Clarkson can only dream about. Cars plough through water, clunk down steps, jump over rooftops. And then there's that phenomenal scene when the Minis speedily skid and slide their way through massive sewer pipes.
Watch it for the first time and see what all the fuss is about. If you've seen it before, catch it on the big screen and kick life back into an old favourite. But the first one who says that they prefer the version with Vinnie Jones gets a bladdy good smack in the maaaf.