THE ITALIAN JOB. Paramount Pictures, UK/US, 1969. Michael Caine, Noël Coward, Benny Hill, Maggie Blye, Rossano Brazzi. Screenwriter: Troy Kennedy-Martin. Director: Peter Collinson. Currently streaming on several platforms, including Amazon Prime Video (but ending there tomorrow).

   When I spotted this movie on Amazon Prime on Monday, but that it was ending there soon, I thought I’d better finally see it while I could, and I’m glad I did. I saw the remake when it came out, but how I’d let this one get by me for so long, I have no explanation.

   It is a heist film, of course, and as usual, heist films take a long time getting around to the heist itself: the planning, the gathering together of the people to pull it off, the obstacles they face while doing so. (In this case, since this particular heist is being pulled off in Italy by a high level gang of British drivers and miscellaneous thugs under the leadership of Michael Caine’s character, and the overall backing, moneywise, of criminal mastermind Noël Coward, safely ensconced in penitentiary, it is the Mafia).

   But in all heist films, or 99.5 percent of them, as meticulously planned as the are, and this one absolutely is, something has to go wrong. A hitch in timing somewhere along the way, a slip-up in timing, a brief bit of conversation overheard by someone who shouldn’t have been there. The audience, expecting exactly this, even while watching events take place like clockwork, even if improvised when need be, only needs to sit back and wait. Second halves of heist films are always the best.

   And the combination of Michael Caine (movie), Noël Coward (stage), and Benny Hill (TV star) may seem to have pulled out of a hat at random, but each in their own way were at the top of their artistic fields at the time, and they’re the glue at the core that holds the film together (some more than others).

   Once the heist gets underway in earnest, some of the storylines get dropped completely. Michael Caine’s girl friend for one, and the Mafia, surprisingly, for another. What I think I’ll do, though, is stop here, rather than analyze the movie any longer (many others have) and amuse you with some photos I took along the way. And by the way, I loved the last line of dialogue: “Hang on a minute lads, I’ve got a great idea.”