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Feature: The Italian Job (2003)

It’s a Mini Adventure!

Revenge in mind…

Another Hollywood version of a classic British movie may seem like a bad idea, but The Italian Job has proved to be a very good move…

Donald Sutherland is in teasing mood when he meets Film Review in New York for the glossy all-star version of The Italian Job. He fires off more questions than answers and suggests that he’s not a big fan of the original take on what has come to be regarded as a classic British caper movie.

The veteran star raises an eyebrow when we mention that the movie, in which he stars alongside Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Edward Norton and Jason Statham, has been described not as a re-make but an homage to the original 1969 production.

“Who said that?” asks Sutherland who, when told that this was the opinion of director F Gary Gray, smiles. “Bless his heart.”

Even then, Sutherland continues along his mischievous path, asking when Film Review had last seen the film in which Michael Caine heads a gang who pull off a gold bullion heist in Turin that’s been organized by Noël Coward from his prison cell.

And it’s only after he has offered the view that the original film is not very funny, that Coward is over the top in it, but not hilariously so, and that Benny Hill’s cameo was “on the nose” that Sutherland’s teasing stops.

Then he launches himself into an explanation of his opinion why the new movie, of which he is mightily pleased, is not a homage to the old one.

Dr Zhivago is part of its period and Lawrence of Arabia lives forever. You can look at Lawrence of Arabia and it exists. You look at Dr Zhivago and you remember the period in which it was made. If you look at The Italian Job, they had wonderful people making it. It was written by Troy Kennedy Martin, Peter Collinson directed it, Dougie Slocombe photographed, Dougie Hayward made the clothes, Quincy Jones did the music, Remy Julienne did the cars, Michael [Caine] was in it and Michael Deeley, who was a terrific producer, produced it. But it is a joke that was made for that period and if you are enthusiastic for that joke – and I guess you are – then that’s fine. So I don’t think this is an homage to it,” says Sutherland.

Then the bullish veteran Canadian star examines the few similarities that exist between what went before and this Hollywood production, which revolves around a double-cross during a heist in Venice and a complex caper – involving a fleet of the new look Minis – that is organised as the betrayed gang members seek their revenge.

“Certainly we use Minis and we use gold but I think this current film is quite substantial. It’s about an interesting concept of redemption. It’s about trying to solve a conundrum. My character is the deus ex machina for it. There is a template that he creates when he says, ‘Don’t live your life like I lived mine, my life was a mistake.’”

by John Millar

Get the full feature, also with Mark Wahlberg and director F Gary Gray, when you buy
Film Review (Sep)

Photo © Paramount Pictures
Feature © Visual Imagination 2003. Not for reproduction

Taken from
Film Review (Sep), see below for ordering options
Film Review (Sep)
#635, September 2003
ships from Aug 14 2003
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