SRP $19.99 2.35:1(16:9) DOLBY DIGITAL 5.1 PARAMOUNT

PARAMOUNT has released the original version of “THE ITALIAN JOB”
along to coincide with the dvd release of its remake.  While we actually
prefer the remake, there are substantial differences between the two and the original, while lacking in character development, still has enough going for it, to recommend it.  The basic premise is similar to the remake.  A team of crooks, led by Charlie Croker(Michael Caine), plans to steal millions
in gold stored from an armored van in Italy.  A similarity, improved
upon in the remake, involves the plan to utilize intentionally set traffic
jams to achieve the theft. Both films also involve the use of Mini Coopers
and this helps achieve a more “fun” atmosphere than would’ve been expected with mainstream vehicles.

Caine’s always terrific, but the film also benefits from the ensemble
cast, made up mostly of comedians, and including Benny Hill and Noel
Coward! 
While none of these characters are developed as well as they are in
the remake, their individual talents help make up for this flaw, and make
the film overcome the flaws in its narrative.

PARAMOUNT has preserved the film’s original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, with
16:9 enhancement.  Colors tend to be subdued more than we’d like, and the film shows its age, but it’s generally in decent shape and free of
artifacts. 
Contrast is fine, offering above average clarity in darker scenes.
Fleshtones appear natural.

PARAMOUNT has remixed the soundtrack to achieve the Dolby Digital 5.1
mix achieved here. While there are a fair share of surround effects, and
there is also a fair share of separation in front and rear speakers, none
of the effects enhance the scenes to any great degree.  Dialogue is always
intelligible but a bit harsh at times.

PARAMOUNT has provided some extras for this release.  To begin with,
there’s a commentary with the film’s producer as well as the author of the
book, “THE MAKING OF THE ITALIAN JOB”.  There’s plenty of technical
information regarding as to how various scenes were accomplished, and big fans of the film will probably enjoy it. However, mainstream viewers will find it to be too dry when compared to other livelier commentaries offered on many dvd releases.

Also offered are several featurettes, focusing on the film’s development, casting and filming of chase sequences.  They’re all involving, and
just the right length, never feeling like filler.

A deleted scene is also offered, and it’s actually quite enjoyable,
lending an entirely different kind of light-hearted touch to an already
breezy type of comedy caper.