Michael Deeley in association with Paramount Pictures
This would be an enjoyable film even if Rossano hadn't had a part in it!
Michael Caine turns in a wonderful performance as the leader of a gang of bumbling thieves out to hijack a shipment of gold out from under the collective noses of the Italian Mafia - Noel Coward is hysterically funny as the incarcerated "British Godfather". And Rossano plays "Beckerman", the mastermind of the entire successful plot, who dies dramatically -- and this may be a first, for him -- during the opening credits!! Luckily for us, he does reappear in a videotape his character created for Caine's character, describing the elaborate plans he has laid out for the heist.
Rossano - who said a few times that his weakness, if he had one, was fancy sports cars - must have loved this opening ... "Beckerman" is driving a beautiful fire engine red Italian sports car through the Italian Alps. (And what breathtaking scenery it is, too ...). Wearing his "Joe Cool" aviator specs and looking SO fine behind that wheel, whipping around curves, caressing the gear shift and the steering wheel like a beautiful woman ... the purr of the engine ... it was an erotic performance of the highest calibre ... well, until he whips into a tunnel and blows up, that is. Boom!!!!
Red metal fragments roar through the clear mountain air, a battered pair of aviator sunglasses click to the pavement, and at least one of us is reduced to screaming, "You killed him during the opening credits??? You can't DO that!!" in shocked amazement.
Luckily, we see him again, as he leaves a videotape for Michael Caine's character, newly sprung from British federal prison - the same prison in which the British Godfather is housed in an elegant, decorated cell.
In this videotape, Rossano/ Beckerman describes the elaborately arranged details of the plan - which involves a high-tech take-over of the Milan traffic system ... and, once Caine realizes it will work, he enlists the aid of Coward's character. At this point, successfully capturing the gold becomes a matter of national honor for both the Italian and the British crime families. In fact, the scene where Coward's character accepts the prison's accolades -- from prisoner, guard and warden alike - for the successful heist is one of the funnier scenes you'll ever see.
Rossano's role is relatively small, but memorable -- not only because of the shocking opening (which he must have loved filming!), but because of the calm, earnest delivery of his plan via videotape, complete with all of the inventions that will accomplish the task.
After that delightful performance, sit back and enjoy the rest of the movie - it's good!
It may come as a surprise to discover that the film has become quite a cult classic, among car afficionados, among others. Believe it or not, there is even an "Italian Job" car rally, held annually, in which cars which appeared in the film compete against each other, following the same long, winding route as the criminals in the film itself, after "stealing"a crate of wine, instead of gold. If you do an Internet search on the film, you see what I mean – this information has been provided by one of those web sites dedicated exclusively to "The Italian Job". One of the more extensive sites can be located at: http://www.geocities.com/MotorCity/2706/italjob.htm#film.
If you're more familiar with Rossano's films than you are with fine examples of automotive engineering, it might help you to know, as you negotiate the site, that the car Rossano was driving as he made his final cinematic plunge, was a Lamborghini Miura. The writers of the above web site describe the car: "As for the Miura, if you look carefully at the wreck as it rolls down the mountainside you'll notice it has no mechanicals in it. It was merely a mold-buck on a rolling chassis. (You didn't seriously think they'd wreck a real Miura, did you?!)
Early models of the Lamborghini Miura used the same gearbox-engine arrangement as the Mini, with the V12 engine sitting on top of the gearbox and sharing its oil. Due to lack of sufficiently high-performance oil, it was later redesigned to use separate oil. The Miura was Lamborghini's first foray into the world of supercars. Until then they were better known as a manufacturer of tractors - which isn't without precedent, as the Aston-Martin DB5 was designed whilst Aston-Martin was owned by David Brown Tractors! The initials DB actually stand for David Brown, who bought Lagonda and Aston-Martin and amalgamated them."Ahh, the things you never thought you'd learn, on this web site .....!