This is my first in a look at several film sequels we almost, but never actually got. With more coming up through the year, first up. The Italian Job 2.
Let’s get the ugly bit out of the way first. No, I’m not talking about the 2003 The Italian Job remake, I’m talking about the all time classic, 1969, Getta Bloomin’ Move On! (The Self Preservation Society), “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!”, Michael Caine starring original flick.
While there had been several aborted attempts at making a sequel to the remake (titled The Brazilian Job), it never came about. But perhaps what’s more of a surprise is that the original The Italian Job very nearly had a sequel too. Especially given it’s literal cliff-hanger ending.
Well, in order to get to the bottom of this one, I need to start at the end. As mentioned, the finale to The Italian Job is a literal cliff-hanger. The well planned heist had gone off without a hitch as Charlie Croker (Michael Caine) and his team make their getaway in a coach, after using (now iconic) three red, white and blue Minis to steal a load of gold. Winding their way through the alpine mountains on the Italian/French boarder and as the bouncy Getta Bloomin’ Move On! (The Self Preservation Society) tune plays, the over confident driver throws the coach around the tight corners of the mountainside road, loses control of the vehicle and it ends up teetering off the edge of a cliff. Gold bars at the back-end of the coach sticking out over the drop down the mountainside, Croker and his team in relative safety at the other end acting as a counter weight. One false move could shift the balance, then the coach, the gold and the heist team could all go over.
That’s when Charlie Croker tries to very slowly inch forward towards the gold. The coach creeks and dips as the weight balance is thrown off. Croker says: “Hang on a minute, lads. I’ve got a great idea.”, the camera pans out to show the massive drop off the mountain, the credits roll. We never learn what that ‘great idea’ was or if it would even work. The film ends with that afore mentioned literal cliff-hanger and goes down as one of the best endings to a movie ever. But… that wasn’t the original ending.
Oscar winner Michael Deeley, who was a producer on The Italian Job has revealed that they had not only previously planned a sequel, but said sequel was actually given the go ahead by the movie studio too. Now, the original ending was a little different. For the most part, the climax the film was largely the same, the coach still ended up teetering off the edge of a cliff, the gold at one end and the gang at the other. I’ll let Deeley himself cover what was supposed to happen when he spoke at the The Times and Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival in 2019:
“We hear a grinding noise, which is a helicopter noise getting closer. Suddenly there’s a jerk underneath and the bus starts rising up far enough that the gold can slide out the front and the people can slide out the front. You cut outside and see two helicopters with a cable underneath the bus lifting everybody up. But of course, waiting outside is the mafia.”
Yup, both the gold and the gang originally escaped the coach, but had to hand over their loot to the mafia. According to Michael Deeley, the sequel had even started to be written and the opening of the film had been completed. Details on what the sequel would’ve been about are quite scarce as the story was never completed. But from what I’ve managed to dig up, supposedly after handing over the gold to the mafia, Charlie Croker and his gang come up with a scheme to steal the gold back from them. Even Michael Caine himself talked about the proposed sequel when he appeared on The Jonathan Ross Show in 2016:
“What happened was, we were in the south of France. We switched on the engine, ran it for several hours. The gold was at one end and we were at the other. The engine ran out of petrol so the balance went alright. We got out of the coach and then the weight of the gold once we were out pushed it over the edge. Waiting at the bottom of the cliff was the French mafia, and they ran off with it and the sequel was we chaise them through the Riviera.”
Though Caine’s recollection of the original ending and sequel is a little different to Deeley’s, they both do mention that the gang did originally escape the coach and that the mafia end up with the gold. So I think it safe to assume the plot of the sequel did involve the gang stealing the gold back. Also according to producer Michael Deeley:
“I was always very happy with the idea that we would make another film but it just didn’t happen.”
Exactly why a planned, partly written and green-lit sequel never happened, I’m not really sure. Everyone seemingly wanted to do it including the movie studio, producers and the stars. But I do have a possible idea why we never saw The Italian Job 2. You see, Deeley has also spoken of his disappointment of the U.S. poster for the film:
“It showed Michael Caine with a cup of tea because he’s English, which is boring. He had a sub-machinegun, which suggested action but really suggested killing, and the map of the city of Turin on the young lady’s back. It couldn’t be less the movie.”
Oh and yes, that poster really did exist too. And yes, it really was that bad and had nothing to do with the movie itself…
Seriously, do you see the heist flick with one of the greatest car sequences in that poster? Deeley had a point, it was crap. Michael Deeley believes the poor advertising campaign of the film is the reason it did so badly in the U.S., which could be true. All of which got me digging around and as classic as the film is seen as today, it bombed here in the U.K. too when it was originally released and was slammed by critics. Not as bad as in the U.S. no. But still, The Italian Job was not a big hit ,I guess the poor reception the film received on both sides of the pond could go some way as to explain why we never saw that sequel?