Stars: Michael Caine, Noel Coward, Benny Hill, Raf Vallone, Tony Beckley, Rossano Brazzi, Margaret Blye, Irene Handl, John Le Mesurier Director: Peter Collinson The film: This is the role that tipped Michael Caine from toiling thespian to bone fide leading man. British audiences had been wooed by the charismatic Cockney three years earlier in the seminal 60s piece, Alfie (1966), but The Italian Job was a big-budget European production aimed at an international audience, and Caine never looked back. He plays enterprising London crim Charlie Croker with an ingenious plan to pull off the heist of the century: lift US$4 million in gold bullion from under the noses of the Turin polizei and swarming mafia. Pulling the strings is criminal mastermind Mr Bridger, played with calculating charm by the brilliant Noel Coward. And once Croker gets the green light for the robbery, he takes off for Italy with his pack of ace villains and three very special Mini Coopers. The 'job' itself is a doddle, it's the getaway that's tricky. And what ensues is one of cinema's greatest chase sequences around Turin's crowded streets, through buildings, rivers and sewers and even over rooftops, with all the action leading to that hilarious cliff-hanger ending. The extras: Three fascinating documentaries - The Great Idea, The Self Preservation Society and Getta Bloomin' Move On - dish some great dirt on a stellar cast, most notably the king of slap-and-tickle himself Benny Hill. One anecdote tells how the notoriously secretive Hill (right), who spoke seven languages and was apparently terrified of women, would carry a pen and notebook at all times. During a break in the production, Hill and some of the cast shared a dinner on the outskirts of Turin. Hill was practising his Italian on the waiter and encouraged the man to reply in his best broken English. The poor waiter struggled through as Hill jotted away studiously. Three years later the same clumsy exchange was employed word-for-word in a Benny Hill Show sketch. Hardly life imitating art, but a good yarn all the same. One of the rare letdowns of this excellent re-release is the absence of an interview with Caine, but he is clearly too big a star these days to be filling out DVD packages. The one deleted scene is a balletic set piece starring those red, white and blue Minis and the pursuing Fiats inside a grand public building, but it comes across more as an advertisement than a meaningful theatrical device and was rightly cut. And with subtitles in 15 languages, there's virtually no excuse for having not caught this crime-comedy cult classic. The verdict: The blueprint for all British caper films that followed and a wickedly enjoyable way to kill 96 minutes. It's hard to imagine a Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels or Sexy Beast ever being made without it. Bladdy marvellous.