The Italian Job (1969)
Scene: Rossano Brazzi playing Roger Beckerman the Mafia boss drives his Lamborghini Miura through the Alps to the Matt Monro singing On Days Like These over the opening credits.
Location: Grand Saint Bernard Pass , Italian side above Aosta in North West Italy. The pass itself is closed in winter. There is a connecting tunnel called the Grand St Bernard Tunnel which connects Switzerland and Italy running through the mountain at a lower altitude which remains open all year. The location used is entirely on the Italian side, above the tunnel entrance and below the head of the Pass.
Approx Co-Ordinates: 45° 49 29.97 N 07 11 08:20 E
Map: Swiss Carte Nationale De Swiss 1:25,000 Number 1365 'GD ST-BERNARD'
Filmed in 1968-AUG over several days with a Miura hired from the factory.
The foot of the Italian side of the Grand St Bernard Pass, in Italy, looking south.
In the frame above, the camera is looking down the valley from the Grand St Bernard Pass, south, into Italy, through a long lens. Aosta and Milano and in the direction to left of frame, east.
In the frame above, the Miura is descending from the road to the tunnel, which switch-backs up to the upper right and along the opposite side of the valley to the one we are viewing from. Following the road in the immediate foreground to the left would join the bridge road in only 100 meters. The red diamond marks the road division which I have marked as visible on other frames with a similar red diamond.
The photograph above shows the approach bridge to the Grand St Bernard tunnel approach road whilst it was under construction in 1961. If you continue over the flyover away from the camera, the road continues along the contour and curves back up the hill to continue along a higher contour, where it is visible crossing to the right, out of frame. It then continues up the side of the valley to meet the tunnel entrance.
The camera is mounted on the pair of windings on the road to St Rhémy-en-Bosses . This is the road you will be taking to reach the actual pass of the Grand St Bernard. Shortly after these windings (500 meters), in the center of the valley just past the stream bed, is the barrier which closes the pass in winter.
The bridge under construction. The road up to the tunnel entrance is visible top right of frame.
The satellite photograph above shows the bridge which takes traffic from Aosta to the tunnel entrance. The old road, going over the Grand St Bernard Pass peels off to the right, just in the lower right hand corner of the frame. The Miura (black arrow) is coming down from the tunnel entrance windings in the direction of Aosta. To continue up the Grand St Bernard Pass from his direction, he would have to brake hard and turn sharp left into the hairpin. The red diamond marks the road division visible in the camera frame in the movie, above.
In the above photograph the Grand St Bernard overpass.
Above map shows approaches to the Grand St Bernard pass. Yellow road indicates tunnel approach and tunnel. Yellow star indicates the head of the pass and the Grand St Bernard Hospice . The Swiss side of the pass is shown here.
In the above map, the Grand St Bernard approach from the Italian side.
In the above map, the Swiss approaches to The Italian Job locations.
Overview of the French passes from Merrick's The Great Motor Highways of the Alps (1958)
Directions: From Milan, take the A5(E25) autostrada West to Aosta then follow the signs to Grand Saint Bernard north (to your right), which is above Aosta. From Geneva, take the A40(E25) South to Chamonix and through the Mont Blanc Tunnel and descend past/through Courmayeur into the Val D'Aosta in Italy, following the signs to the Grand Saint Bernard north (to your left) above Aosta. When you descend from the entrance to the Mont Blanc tunnel you meet first some windings which take you to Courmayeur then pick up a four-lane highway which heads down the Val d'Aosta all the way to Aosta (Attentionni: This has changed since the extension of the new Autostrada all the way up from Aosta. Updated information to follow). The road passes through a long series of tunnels and in a morning, you are subjected to the sudden darkness of the tunnel followed by the extreme brightness of the open mountainside. The road is straight so if you are driving a fast car flat out, then the best way to tackle this is to wear a pair of sunglasses perched on the end of your nose (framed sunglasses like the Ray-Ban 'Wayfarers' are best for this). Then as you enter the tunnel, dip your head to lower the lenses from your line of sight and then as you exit the tunnel, raise your head to bring the lenses in front of your eyes. This means you can hold the throttle down all the way to Aosta and still see what you are doing. Italian traffic law specifies "lights on" in tunnels so best to turn on your dipped headlights. I was caught by the Italian police on this one after collecting a new Ferrari 288GTO from the factory.
Alternative route from Geneva is to take the N1(E25,E62) in the direction of Lausanne and continue along the lake on the N9 (E27,E62) until you reach Martigny, then take Route 21(E27) following signs to the Grand Saint Bernard, with is South above Martigny. The road climbs steadily upwards past the turn-off for Verbier and continues upwards to the Grand Saint Bernard pass.
This magnificent opening scene of the film was shot with star of Italian cinema, Rossano Brazzi, at the wheel of a Lamborghini Miura which, was hired from the factory to shoot this sequence. Simon Kidston has researched the records at the factory
From Classic and Sportscar magazine 2009 September issue, "The Italian Job":
Story has it that the orange P400 used in the action scenes, registered BO 296 (Prova plates from the Bologna region), was a pre-delivery car provided by the factory and and driven to the Alps by a sales director. "During my book research, we discovered fuel receipts for the three days' filming submitted to get the tax back," says Kidston. "The first owner had no idea that this new Miura had been thrashed around the mountains."
The Lamborghini Miura made its first appearance at the 1965 Turin Motor Show when mid-engined road cars were nearly unheard of and it caused something of a sensation. The version used in the film is the first version, the P400 which was produced from 1966-69. The Miura suffered from body lift at speeds above 160km/h (100mph) which limited its usefulness on very fast sections, as the bodylift made the steering go light. However, the bodylift and resultant light steering on the Miura was comparable and sometimes better than contemporary automobiles in its class. It is essential to compare like with like. However, the Miura was superb at climbing alpine passes with its rearward weight distribution giving it firm traction and the light front end making it point very quickly. The lattitudinal, cross-ways placement of the engine, just ahead of the center-line of the rear wheels, means that the Miura is even better adapted than a mid-engined car which has the engine placed longitudinally, forward of the center-line of the axle, as the cross-ways placement of the engine means that its center of gravity is placed as close to the rear-axle center-line as possible. This means that when the front wheels have to turn the car to bring it around a hair-pin bend, the engine merely rotates about its center. Half the engine comes forward and half goes back. Very little movement. In a longitudinally positioned engine, the engine must be moved through a much larger distance, as if it is positioned further out on the hands of a clock, the hands of which are pivoted on the center-line of the axle, in its center, at the differential. In a front-engined automobile, the engine must be moved the greatest distance, as if the engine is positioned on the minute hand of the clock. The tires must work very hard to do this. But in the Miura, there is hardly any work to do, and they front tires are quickly able to re-position the nose of the car. It is like trying to reposition a wheelbarrow when the load is correctly placed right over the wheel versus trying to reposition the wheelbarrow when the weight is incorrectly placed over the section close to the handles. The former is easy, the latter, much harder.
If you think about a racing car being turned into a big turn as if at a banked oval. The front of the car must be pushed into the new direction for the entire length of the corner. It were as if you had the pit-crew waiting on the front right wing of the car ready for the moment when the car enters the left hand corner. As the car enters the corner, the driver yells » Push! « and the pit crew push the front of the car, and keep pushing, to bring it into the new direction. The pit crew of a front-engined NASCAR automobile have to push a lot harder than the pit-crew of a Miura. In a rear engined car like a Porsche 911, the pit crew hardly have to push at all because the weight of the engine is trying to escape up the banking, and to do this, it must pull the rear of the car with it, which makes the front
»turn in«, in a manner. However, this brings problems of its own which any Porsche tuner will tell you about.
As a bonus, the latitudinal placement of the engine gives purity of engineering form. All the rotation of the engine crackshaft, the gearbox components, the axle and the wheels are in the same plane. In a longitudinally positioned engine, the rotation of the crankshaft must at some point be changed by ninety degrees in order to drive the axles and the wheels. This means that the engine struggles to twist itself when the throttle is applied hard. You can see this in front-engined cars, when the engine is revved hard, the engine will move to the left as it fights with the differential in the axle, which it must turn in the opposite direction, to the right.
In powerful front-engined cars like muscle cars, the engine has be restrained with a large lateral plate, front and rear, because the torque will pull the left-hand engine mounting out of the casting as the engine lurches to the right. The torque is then transmitted to the chassis, which is why you see photographs of drag-racing cars lifting their left hand front wheel and inch or two off the ground. The twist is mirrored at the rear, as the axle tries to rotate about the crankshaft instead of turning the wheels. This causes the right hand side of the axle, and thus the wheel, to lift, which causes it to break traction well before the left hand wheel.
This factor is insignificant when, in mid-engined automobiles like Ferraris and Lamborghinis, the engine, gearbox and differential are one solid, bolted unit. Nevertheless, the design of the Miura engine has a beauty for engineering purists.
The exposed chassis of a Miura from the rear. The twelve Weber carbureters rise above the top of the engine.
This appearance on the Grand St Bernard places the Miura in its element and it is probably the Miura's finest outing. They could not have picked a better automobile to play this rôle. While Italy + FIAT + Gianni Agnelli = Ferrari, we do not see an appearance by the great marque in this movie. Agnelli had some of his men ferry the crew of the movie around in a Ferrari Dino but we do not see them appear in the film.
As for Roger Beckerman: A lot of people must die and go to Heaven. But Roger Beckerman gets to go to Heaven, then die.
The opening shot is of the overpass crossing the valley entrance taking the road Route S17(E27) from Aosta across the Eastern side of the valley to western side, where it continues its ascend to the road which was built to take vehicles to the tunnel which replaced the pass in 1964. The Miura would be heading back down the valley to Aosta if it continued in the direction which it is heading, East, to left of camera.
The old road over the top of the Grand Saint Bernard pass turns up the Eastern side of the valley just before this concrete overpass as you ascend from Aosta. For the Miura to turn up the old road, it must brake hard and turn left perhaps eighty meters after it has crossed the overpass. Continue up this road toward the village of St Rhemy and continue to the where the road crosses the stream (the River Artanavaz) and starts to climb in chicanes up the opposite (West) side of the valley. In winter (September to June), the barrier closes the road here and you must leave your vehicle at this point and continue on foot, skis or snow-shoes.
You can avoid the barrier by driving as if you were going to use the tunnel. Just as you enter the tunnel canopy entrance, there is a gap in the canopy on the left where you can drive through and rejoin the pass road above the barrier. Maintenance vehicles use it. You can then drive all the way to the snow line which is a long way above the barrier, saving a lot of time on foot. If you are shooting film using vehicles and wish to shoot on the pass then this is best way to do it as the the pass road has been closed off for you and there will be no traffic. In the photograph, below, the gap in the canopy is behind the canopy shortly after the old road has crossed under the canopy. Best not to let any one see you using this little short cut.
In the above photograph, you can see the entrance to the tunnel, viewed by looking back down the pass. The tunnel disappears into the mountainside after crossing a small bridge. The border guard and tunnel control office are situated just before the small bridge. The old pass road rises from the valley bottom and crosses under the canopied approach to the tunnel, then continues up the side of the valley, frame right. The Grand St Bernard Pass is behind the camera. The footage shot in the second section of the opening credits is drawn from higher up the mountainside on the windings, behind the camera. The canopy over the road visible in the frame is to prevent snow falling on the road and to prevent rockfall and falling trees from blocking it.
High on the Grand St Bernard Pass((00:00:24))
The Coach passes this place later in the movie, at ((01:27:45)).
Approximate Co-Ordinates: 45 51 25.05N - 07 09 17.60E
In the above Panorama, the view in the rear view mirror of the Lamborghini Miura as it turns hard left into the uphill hairpin, at the frame above ((00:00:24)).
In the above photograph, the 1st Hairpin on the Grand St Bernard, which is above Plan d'Arc Bridge, used by both the Lamborghini Miura and the Harrington Legionnaire.
The Miura's turn through 1st Hairpin on the Grand St Bernard above Plan d'Arc Bridge.
1st Hairpin on the Grand St Bernard - the approach
1st Hairpin on the Grand St Bernard, used by both the Lamborghini and the Harrington Legionnaire
The 1st Hairpin on the Grand St Bernard, showing the entrance and exit.
Low on Grand St Bernard Pass above St Rhemy, coming up the pass ((00:00:27))
Approximate Co-Ordinates: 45 50 42.94 N - 07 10 35.05 E
The Harrington Legionnaire drove up this section of road at ((01:26:54<))
In the above frame, the Miura is actually descending the Grand St Bernard ((00:00:37))
Grand St Bernard ((00:00:40))
In the above frame, the Miura enters the series of kinks before the bridge at Maison Refuge
Grand St Bernard, approaching the start of the windings ((00:00:42))
The red dot marks the exact stop of the camera tripod
00:00:44 Mid-way through the kinks before Maison de Refuge.
Grand St Bernard, the Maison de Refuge ((00:00:47))
Approximate Co-Ordinates: 45 51 30.11 N - 07 09 10.49 E
At 00:00:50 the descent toward the second hairpin at Prax d'Arc almost above the 1st hairpin. Same location as 00:00:37.
(00:00:51) the right-hander turn-in into Maison de Refuge Bridge
(00:00:55) The Miura approaches the second to last turn before the Italian Border post.
00:00:56 The Miura takes the last right-hander before the approach and turn-in to the bridge at Maison de Refuge. This is the same location at 00:00:51 and may be viewed at 00:00:42
In the above photograph, a view of the lower section of the Grand St Bernard between the tunnel entrance, which is not far behind camera, and the Maison de Refuge, which marks the half way point. Most of the footage was taken on this lower section of the pass.
((00:01:01)) Approx Co-Ordinates: 45 51 50.34N - 07 09 22.94 E
From the above frame at 00:01:01 there is a continuous reel of film until the frame below at 00:02:00:
((00:02:00)) Approx Co-Ordinates: 45 52 04.06 N - 07 09 13.91 E
In the above satellite photograph, the entire Italian side of the Grand St Bernard Pass between the tunnel entrance, lower left, to the head of the pass and the buildings of the Grand St Bernard Hospice above the lake.
In the above satellite photograph, the section of the Grand St Bernard pass over which the Miura travels in a continuous sixty seconds of film, starting at 'Miura Hairpin' and ending just below the last stone Shepherd's hut on the Italian side.
In the above panorama, »Sixty Seconds of Miura« when viewed from higher up the pass.
In the above photograph, "Miura Hairpin" on the Grand St Bernard Pass, viewed from much higher on the pass.
In the above panorama, "Miura Hairpin" on the Grand St Bernard Pass.
In the above panorama, the view of the approach to the Miura Hairpin and »Sixty Seconds of Miura«.
From the frame below at 00:02:06 there is a continuous reel of film until the frame below at 00:02:40 while the Miura descends the same stretch of the pass which it climbs in »Sixty Seconds of Miura«.
In the above satellite photograph, the entire Italian side of the Grand St Bernard Pass between the tunnel entrance, lower left, to the head of the pass and the buildings of the Grand St Bernard Hospice above the lake.
Grand St Bernard above St Rhemy ((00:02:52)). If descending the pass, this location is after the tunnel entrance while the road is still on the same side of the valley. Just before you come to the river bed, the road takes a left hand hairpin, which is this location, and heads back north for a few hundred meters to the bridge crossing.
GRAND ST BERNARD
Nearly all the footage of the Miura following the footage on the overpass (00:00:24) and at St Rhemy is shot on the high windings of the pass starting at first hairpin (which is below the second hairpin at Prax d'Arc (1956m)), and finishing well before the Italian Border post at the end of Sixty Seconds of Miura.
At the head of the pass but off camera you can visit the Grand Saint Bernard Hospice which keeps the famous Saint Bernard dogs. 45°52.2 N' - 7°10.3167' E (2469 meters altitude).
Originally, the Hospice was built to aid pilgrims and travelers crossing during winter, as the pilgrims would become trapped by bad weather. If you wade through the thick snow to ascend the pass in winter the buildings look deserted but the door which faces the road at the top of the double steps is in fact open. If you continue through the door and turn right you will reach a little café where you can order hot food and drink. There will be no-one else there apart from the occasional group of Swiss border guards.
The Grand Saint Bernard was on the route 'Via Francigena' from Canterbury in England to the Holy Land.
At frame 00:02:06 the Miura is shown descending the same section of pass back towards Italy, until at 00:02:52 it cuts away to the next scene.
Notice that the only other vehicles which the Miura passes on the road are British made (save for the VW) and British registered. Almost certainly because they are all crew vehicles.
DANGER: If you attempt to ascend in winter, you will need mountaineering clothing and boots. Towards summer, the lower slopes may be cleared but the upper section toward the Hospice retains deep snow. In bad weather you could be trapped here, this is why the Hospice was built. In mid-winter you will almost certainly need snow-shoes or free-heel skis with skins.
Remember that in winter the daylight is short and you will have to start your ascent during darkness in order to reach the top and return in daylight. The ascent is shorter from the Swiss side but being north-facing it retains much deeper snow. Furthermore, you must use the left hand side of the valley as the road is the only horizontal surface on the right hand side and is filled with snow rendering it impassable on foot, as it becomes part of the (very steep) mountainside. Usually there are ski tracks for you to follow to help with navigation.
Ascending from the Italian side is much longer in distance but a much more pleasant ascent. You will see wildlife such as Marmots and Chamois. I do not recommend these Winter ascents except to those with high levels of physical fitness.
In the above photograph, the Grand St Bernard Hospice as approached from the Italian side. In winter, when all you can see is a deserted snowy moonscape, you can enter the little Café by walking up the stone staircase on the building on the right of frame, directly from the road, then through the door and down the corridor to your right.
J.M.W. Turner's drawing of the Grand St Bernard Hospice in 1802. Turner's route through the Alps is mapped here
Napoleon crossed the Alps over the Grand St Bernard in 1800 to outflank the Austrians in Italy and availed himself of the hospitality of the hospitaliers. Napoleon dined heartily while he was there and as was his habit, left without paying the bill. President Mitterand visited in the 1980s and was presented with the bill, which he paid.
Swiss painter Edouard Castres painted Napoleon on the steps of the hospice, the steps which are there today.
The view toward the Italian frontier. The steps upon which Napoleon stands are the same ones you use today.
The Hôtel Albergo Italia at the head of the Grand St Bernard Pass.
Above: The Lamborghini would have terminated its run here and turned around for the descent. The Grand St Bernard Hospice is out of frame to the left, at the other end of the lake, just over the Swiss border. The present proprietor of the Hôtel Albergo Italia, Luca Brunod, was a boy of ten when filming took place but remembers the appearance of Rossano Brazzi , who drove the Lamborghini Miura. If you are making timed runs up and down the pass, you can turn the car around here in the forecourt of the Hôtel Albergo Italia, just 100m before the Italian border post. The actual border post is on the side of the road next to the lake, just after that low extension of the Hôtel Albergo Italia, just out of view under the lip of the mountain in the above photograph.
The Swiss border post on the edge of the lake. The Hospice is behind it, frame right. In winter, the read you see left of frame is full of snow, which lies 50cm deep on the mounstainside. Sometimes Langlauf skiers and intrepid hikers have worn a small track in the snow on the mountainside a few meters above the road. You rarely see any one else up at this pass in winter. The border posts are not manned in winter and the other buildings are closed, except for the hospice, which contains a little restaurant where you can purchase some much needed refreshment..
The above are the entries in Edward Denzel's Grosser Alpen Strassen Führer published by Denzel Verlag, Innsbruck.
The above section shows the shorter steeper descent on the northern Swiss side of the pass (left), back to the tunnel entrance.
In the above photograph, the exit from the tunnel on the Swiss side. Switzerland (Martigny and Verbier) is ahead of you and the height of the pass, behind you. This is the view the coach never was able to see.
- Opening scene - at www.YouTube.com
Nearest other film locations:
+ The main The Italian Job (1969) locations in the Aosta Valley
+ Eon Productions; The World is not Enough (1999) at Chamonix through the Mont Blanc tunnel in France.
Scene: The Lamborghini Miura crashes into the Earth-mover
Location: The first tunnel as you descend from La Thuile .
The main Courmayeur ski area is on the massif north of this location, up to your right as you ascend the road from the valley. Courmayeur is in the local weather pattern of Mont Blanc, which give Chamonix, Argentiere and Courmayeur distinctive patterns of snowfall.
The Canopy now covering the Location in the above Frame. The Canopy was built around Fifteen years ago.
In the above photograph, the Lamborghini Miura enters the downstream end of the tunnel at the opening the sequence. The crash of the Miura into the Bulldozer will be staged at this same end of the tunnel. The canopy visible in the photograph now covers the place where the crash was staged which is why the Miura is entering the tunnel while still under the canopy.
The Miura enters the tunnel driving from the valley up to La Thuile
In the above Frame, the view back down the Mountain road from La Thuile, out of the first tunnel on the road from La Thuile
In the above Map, the Location of the Tunnel Exit.
In the above frame ((00:03:18)), the bulldozer backs out of the tunnel. The area where the mafiosi and the FIAT are standing is now covered by a canopy, but the view down to the River, is still visible through the arches.
In the above map, from Edward Denzel's Grosser Alpen Strassen Führer, the Col du Petit St Bernard, showing the conjunction with the Val D'Aosta.
LDS topographic map of the Grand St Bernard pass, showing the main features of the ascent. If you are performing timed runs of the pass then you can finish and turn the car around in front of the row of vendors' huts about 80m before the Italian border post.
LDS topographic map 1:25,000. The road over the Grand St Bernard is marked in red. The sections used in filming are marked in purple. A green arrow indicates that the Miura was ascending the pass. A red arrow indicates that the Miura was descending the pass. Note that all the locations were on the south side of the pass, the Italian side. This would be because the Italian side has the most features but also because it south-facing and therefore lit brightly.
- Classic and Sportscar magazine's article of 2009 September "The Italian Job"
+ Simon Kidston's Italian Job - The fortieth anniversary of the Lamborghini Miura
- The Lamborghini Register
- http://www.themiuraregister.com/ - The Miura Register
Scene: Charlie Croker leaves his cell ((00:04:49))
Location: Kilmainham Gaol in Ireland
Above frame, Kilmainham Gaol in Ireland.
Peter Collinson and The Master.
+ Photographs of Kilmainham Gaol at www.flickr.com
Scene: Charlie Croker gets out of jail (00:05:31)
Location: Wormwood Scrubs Prison , Du Cane Road, West London. The back projection used in the Ambassador's car is also Du Cane road, showing the Hammersmith Hospital.
There is a lengthy scene at exactly this location in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965) at 00:25:55 where the camera covers all directions including the road during Richard Burton's departure from prison. While it is common to find glimpses of a location in one motion picture visible in another motion picture, it is uncommon to have the location covered so completely, as in this case.
In the frame above, Wormwood Scrubs Gaol , London, England
In the above photograph, the entrance to Wormwood Scrubs Gaol.
1967: Mick Jagger leaves Wormwood Scrubs Prison after serving one day of his sentence
+ Wormwood Scrubs Prison at GoogleMaps
In the above frame, Du Cane Road running West.
In the above frame, Du Cane Road running West
In this back projection, you can see the entrance and sign for Hammersmith Hospital on Du Cane Road through the passenger window as the vehicle travels East toward the center of London.
Wormwood Scrubs 1937 before construction of the Westway . The prison is mid lower left on the map.
CAPTAIN CROCKER COLLECTS HIS ASTON MARTIN
Scene: Crocker collects his Aston Martin DB4 from the Garage (00:07:35).
Location: 77 Park Lane London, Underground Parking Lot, which now houses Mini Park Lane .
Directions: London Underground to Marble Arch Station or Hyde Park Corner Station. 77 Park Lane is at the corner of Park Lane and Mount Street.
Finding this Location would not have been possible with out the help of Actor and Author John Clive , who played the Garage Owner. Working by elimination, only one Parking Lot in West London had Vehicle Elevators, and in a pair, exactly like the Location. This was George Yard Underground Parking Lot at Grosvenor Square. George Yard was not the location, it was at 77 Park Lane , which was not a public building. The two buildings were constructed at a similar date and probably by the same architect, which meant that the interiors matched quite closely. The building presently houses Mini Park Lane who were immensely helpful when I came to try and match photographs of the location.
The basement of Mini Park Lane, Mayfair, London.
The pair of vehicle elevators are right of frame. Sir Michael is shown entering from the right hand (easternmost) elevator as we view it. The exact location of the Aston Martin DB4 is shown in front of the pillar in which another Sir Michael is standing, center frame. You can see in the frame from the movie, the pillar which Sir Michael stands in front of when at the rear of the Aston Martin is the pillar which is the same height as he is. The pillar to the left of the Aston Martin as we view it would be the pillar which was visible behind Sir Michael as he bent under the hood of the automobile to retrieve his stash of loot.
The basement of Mini Park Lane.
The vehicle elevators in the basement at Mini Park Lane.
In the above photograph, the location of the Aston Martin would be frame right, slightly closer to the camera than the convertible BMW. The inclined plane visible in the wall behind is the vehicle ramp which descends from street level, next to the vehicle elevators, all the way to the basement, entering at centre frame.
In the above photograph, the exterior of 77 Park Lane in Mount Street, showing the entrance to the vehicle elevators. Sir Michael Caine makes his entrance in the left hand, easternmost elevator.
In the above photograph, 77 Park Lane, London, where Captain Croker collects his Aston Martin DB4. Finding this location would not have been possible without the kind help of John Clive who played the owner of the garage in the Scene.
In the above Map, 77 Park Lane, where Captain Croker collects his Aston Martin DB4.
After I discovered the location, Mini Park Lane moved their Mini showroom to that building, 77 Park Lane, and have made short film in homage the Minis in The Italian Job called The Britalian Job directed by Top Gear lead director Phil Churchward , which you may view here:
LORD CROCKER's COMING OUT PARTY at the ROYAL LANCASTER HOTEL
Scene: Charlie arrives at the Hotel (00:09:51)
Location: Royal Lancaster Hotel, Lancaster Gate, London
Directions: Take London Underground to Lancaster Gate Station. You are now directly underneath the Royal Lancaster Hotel. When you exit the station, you will be on the opposite side of the hotel block to the entrance. Turn to your left, and proceed around the corner, which will bring you to the spot where the Ambassador's car is parked.
The Royal Lancaster Hotel had only recently been constructed at the time of filming. It is designed in the then prevalent Sixties style, a style which can also be seen in the buildings on London Wall, in the scene where Charlie rides home on the milk cart. The internal decor of the hotel has being changed but structurally it remains the same. The church spire you can see in the background through the window as Charlie enters the room is the Church of St Mary Abbots on Kensington Church Street, on the opposite side of Hyde Park, to the West.
At 00:13:00 Notice that the filter-tipped cigarettes do not fit into the cigarette case. Nearly all cigarette cases were made in the age before filtered cigarettes.
In the map above the tower block of the hotel is marked in red. The vehicular and pedestrian entrance to the hotel is on the right hand side, where the car of the Ambassador of Pakistan is parked. The Aston Martin down the circular ramp of the hotel's parking lot, as if coming from the parking lot.. There is a one-way circulation system around the traffic island upon which the hotel is built, marked by red arrows.
+ Lancaster Gate at Google Maps
In the frame above, you can see Charlie's Aston Martin making its way down the ramp of the Royal Lancaster Hotel toward the front Apron. In real life, the Parking Lot of the Royal Lancaster is where the Aston Martin has just appeared from.
In the above photograph, the forecourt of the Royal Lancaster Hotel, showing the shrubbery and canopy which has been added since filming.
Michael Caine had Charlie Croker's suits made by tailor Douglas Hayward. Hayward has set up on his own in 1967 and quickly established a large client list populated by actors and entertainers. Hayward's shop became a place for celebrities to socialize and Hayward himself found himself included socially by his client list. Douglas Hayward has now opened on Mount Street opposite Scott's Restaurant.
Douglas Hayward on Mount Street, opposite Scotts Restaurant.
The ever gorgeous Valerie Leon plays the receptionist. Look at all that hair.
The lobby desk of the Royal Lancaster Hotel. The entrance is away out of frame to your right.
The Royal Lancaster Hotel viewed from the South, camera located in Hyde Park. The hotel suite Crocker entered is located on the corner nearest the lens on the left hand side (West) of the building as we view it, at the top of the building. The entrance and lobby of the hotel visible in the frame of Charlie's arrival is to the right of the block structure of the hotel visible in this photograph.
In the above frame, you can see the spire of the Church of St Mary Abbots on Kensington Church Street away to the South West.
West Elevation of the Royal Lancaster Hotel.
In the map above, you can see the relative position of the Royal Lancaster Hotel, to the Church spire visible in the background during the scene when Charlie Croker enters the hotel room filled with girls. (1) Marks Marble Arch underground parking lot on Park Lane , where Harry Palmer performs the kidnap exchange in The Ipcress File (1965).
The Royal Lancaster Hotel viewed from the north end of the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park.
Church of St Mary Abbots on Kensington Church Street viewed from the same angle as the camera in the shot of Crocker entering the hotel suite. The building to the right of this frame is the Royal Palace of Kensington , which is located on the far West side of Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park .
+ Lancaster Gate at Google Maps
+ The history of the Lancaster Gate area
CHARLIE RIDES HOME ON THE MILK CART - LONDON WALL
Scene: Crocker rides home on the milk cart after a good night out ((00:13:13))
Location: London Wall , City of London, West of Moorgate .
Directions: Take London Underground to Bank Station, Moorgate Station or Liverpool Street Station.
Approx Co-Ordinates: 51 31 03.03 N 0 05 33.09 W
Directions: Take London Underground Subway to Moorgate station. Proceed South down Moorgate Street in the direction of Bank. Where London Wall Street crosses Moorgate, stop and look West, to your right. This wide, four lane street was the road down which the milk cart drove toward you. At the time, the buildings were new Sixties era blocks which had just replaced old Victorian buildings. Only two of these Sixties era buildings remains as they themselves have been knocked down and replaced. This location burned a lot of shoe leather and caused a lot of consternation and was only found because I happened to be looking for another location. The location had been in original condition until the mid-Nineties. The establishing shot was filmed looking West down London wall, but the close-up of Michael Caine on the milk car was filmed looking north-east, showing the northern side of London Wall as the back-drop.
In the above frame, you can see the first bridge, which is still extant. The second bridge in the distance has been removed during redevelopment. During the backprojection of Charlie riding on the milk cart, you can see the sign 'Midland Bank' is visible on one of the buildings.
In the above photograph, London Wall, showing recent development which has wiped out some of the original ground level development.
In the frame above, the 'Midland Bank' sign is visible on the wall of the building. A sharp-eyed reader with a good memory for the original location pointed out that the milk cart is traveling west in this shot. The camera is looking north.
The close-up shot of Michael Caine would have been taken somewhere between the camera and the orange truck. The orientation may be been chosen to make use of what little daylight there was coming from the south.
London Wall showing the re-development of the the Sixties office block complex. The development would have been only a few years old when The Italian Job used it for a location.
In the satellite photograph above, you can see that only the two tower blocks nearest the camera survive. There is a concrete bridge which joins the two and this survives also. The two tower blocks in the background of frame, along with their bridge, have been destroyed and re-developed. Once you stand under the bridge, looking west, you are looking at the path of the milk cart as it rolled toward the camera.
Michael Caine and Benny Hill at London Wall. You can see one of the the crew Mini Moke in the background. Benny Hill had a character in one of his shows which featured him as the "Fastest milk-man in the West". In England, milk is delivered to houses at dawn direct from the dairy.
London Wall was in the City of London, which by the 1960s contained no residents nor shops, only offices. This meant that during the weekend, it was deserted. This made it suitable for filming a scene which was meant to represent the early hours of the morning.
+ London Wall at Google Maps
Mr Bridger has the governor of the jail attend an interview. The portrait of the Queen hanging on the wall behind Sir Noel is by the artist Annigoni
Scene: Charlie's girlfriend arrives at Charlie's apartment ((00:23:12))
Location: 18 Denbigh Mews, off the eastern side of Portobello Road , between Westbourne Grove and Chepstow Villas, London.
Directions: Take London Underground to Notting Hill Gate. At the surface, proceed West for ten meters, and then turn right down Kensington Park Road, remaining on the right hand side of the road, for thirty meters. At this point the road branches into a wide section turning half left, and a narrow section continuing dead ahead. Avoid the wide section to your left. Remain on the right hand side of the narrow road for a further 100 meters. The entrance to Portobello Road appears on the left hand side of the road. Continue down Portobello Road until you reach the location shown. Further down Portobello Road at the Duke of Wellington public house are the locations used in Bullet to Bejing and Notting Hill (1999)
In the above frame, the Dormobile , license plate 256 DNW 1959 Thames 10cwt Personnel Carrier , halts in Portobello Road , heading North, downhill. It is possible that the license plate has been changed. The Mini Moke is the kind of automobile which would have been at home in Notting Hill at this time but I suspect this is also a crew vehicle. Update as of 2013: My suspicions were correct - it was a crew vehicle.
In the above frame, Crocker's Aston Martin license plate 163 ELT is about to turn into Denbigh Mews after traveling south, uphill on Portobello Road. Portobello Road was one-way at this time and the Aston Martin is travelling the wrong way. The market stalls visible were placed there for the movie. The market stalls only start lined the street further down the road beyond the junction with Westbourne Grove, as they do to this day. The antiques shop on the corner of Denbigh Mews and Portobello Road is Alice's. The present owner is the son of the owner who was present during filming. Alice's also appears in the film currently under production Paddington (2014) as »Gruber's« antiques store. The scenes in Notting Hill (1999) where Huge Grant is on the roof of his house were shot on the top of Twentieth Century Theatre's east wing which is above the right shoulder of the man in the beige raincoat and black polo neck. Directly above the head of the person standing to his right.
In the above frame, the Aston Martin is parked outside 'Charlie's apartment'.
At the time of filming, there were two garages located at ground level and the apartment, reached by the stairs at the side shown in the frame, occupied two floors above it. You can see that at the time of filming the owner of the building let the garage as a market stall on market days. The garage door is visible in the frame below. A mews was a the rear building of a larger residence where the carriage and horses belonging to the family were kept. The fell out of service in the early part of the 19thC and by the 1950s many had been converted into small houses. Very few remain in their original condition.
In the above frame, looking down Denbigh Mews, you can see it is a dead end. One of the advantages that the transition from VHS tapes, though DVD , to Blue-Ray displayed on high resolution screens is that when examining frames from the movie, steadily more detail has been revealed, leading to number of mysteries being solved in several movies.
In the above photograph, Denbigh Mews.
In the above frame, view of the upper storey of 'Charlie's Apartment' at what is now 18 Denbigh Mews.
In the above photograph, looking back down Denbigh Mews to Portobello Road.
In the above photograph, the entrance to Denbigh Close viewed from the same angle as Camp Freddie.
This location is largely unchanged but at the time of filming that house was two apartments but has since being restored to a single house in the 1990s. The direction in which the semi-clothed ladies escape is a dead end. The interior of Charlie Crocker's apartment is at the studio. 99% of interiors are at the studio. The Dormobile bearing with Mr Bridger's henchmen turns down Portobello road going north (down the slope) and pulls up just before the turning in to Denbigh Mews. The Aston Martin driven by Charlie's girlfriend drives up Portobello road driving south (up the slope) and turns left into Denbigh Mews. Portobello Road is now a one way street so in real life, the approach of the Aston Martin is not possible. If you are driving an Aston Martin DB4 or Dormobile then the best approach is the one used by the Dormobile from the Chepstow Villas. One of the houses used in filming Performance (1970) is situated a block away to the North West. The opening scenes in the Harry Palmer movie Bullet to Bejing (1995) were filmed further down (north) Portobello Road at the junction of Chepstow Villas and Elgin Cresent at the Duke of Wellington public house. Notting Hill (1999) was filmed mostly in the next few hundred meters.
The map above shows the position of Charlie's apartment in Denbigh Close and the approach of both the Dormobile and the Aston Martin.
- - Portobello Road at Google Maps
- A map of Portobello Road antiques market.
Portobello Road antiques market started in the 1950s and is one of the main London antiques markets. It is smaller than it was because www.eBay.com has replaced its function. Portobello Road is visited by thousands of tourists on the Saturday when the antiques markets are open which means that the prices of the antiques are high. Bermondsey market is much cheaper. The actual antiques stalls are in basments stretching under the houses you see facing the road, starting at Rogers Antiques Market almost opposite Denbigh Mews. Further down Portobello Road just before the cafe and wine bar at the next junction is the entrance to Twentieth Century Theatre (under the broad arrow sign, which wrist-watch collectors will recognise). Twentieth Century Theatre is the venue where Sir Lawrence Olivier made his first appearance on stage, in 1927. The present owner of the theatre has traced the original telegram which informed Olivier of his success in gaining a part and has the telegram framed on the wall. Most of the stalls facing the road sell tourist-related goods and fabricated 'antiques'. Portobello Road has a street market which on a saturday is the food market. This street market alternates with the clothes market. This is like any other street market and dates from a time when ordinary people would buy their goods at street markets.
Worth visiting are:
- http://lunetiervintage.com/ - Vintage and rare sunglasses
- The French food stall http://unenormandealondres.co.uk/ a few stalls down from the Kurt Geiger shop. The Savoyard sausages were bought at one of the Paris markets and the quality was decidedly agricultural compared to the Savoyard sausage you can purchase in Haute Savoie (notably Le Cheminee at Chamonix ). The prices were a lot lower so the sausages would do for those suffering serious withdrawal symptoms.
The area of Notting Hill was developed when the underground/overground steam railway was installed between here and the City of London. It was laid out on the hill which was by then surmounted by the church on Ladbroke Grove. Before that, the gently sloping pasture was used as a racecourse for horses. By the 1950s the area had become a little run down and was housing many immigrants. In the 1960s it became very bohemian but by the 1980s it started to move up-market and has gradually become more chic. Many of the shops used to be antiques shops and galleries but are now expensive branded ladies clothiers and jewelers. Notting Hill is home to a number of famous people including banker Peter Baring, designer Stella McCartney, actor Rik Mayall, model Elle MacPherson, singer Adele and news anchor Jeremy Paxman. Entertainer and musician Earl Okin , who lives on Portobello Road is the area's unofficial historian. Okin lived above what was the unofficial Free Hungarian Embassy in the 1950s and 1960s at 5 Arundel Gardens. The Hungarians retained their meeting house there past 1989 until the mid 2000s.
In the above frame, Charlie watches the 16mm from Torino in his apartment ((00:13:30))
The above frame, the tower of the Mole Antonelliana .
The Camera is positioned in the Reale Mutua Assicurazioni tower which is situated in the Piazza Castello
In the above frame, the 16mm movie from Torino shows the Piazza Castello, within which is the Palazzo Madama
In the above frame, the Piazza San Carlo .
In the above frame, Torino Airport
Like most Sixties era airports, this building as been demolished.
The DER Building , called »Apex House« at Apex Corner, Twickenham Road, West of Twickenham, in West London, England.
MR BRIDGER VISITS HIS DENTIST
Scene: Mr Bridger visits his dentist in Harley Street (00:25:47)
Location: Corner of Devonshire Street and Harley Street , London.
Approx Co-Ordinates: 51 31 17.43 N 0 08 54.07 W
Directions: At the North End of Harley Street, where Devonshire Street crosses.
The camera is position on the Western side of Harley Street at the corner of Harley Street and Devonshire Street. The buildings opposite have not changed at all, although there is no street sign 'Harley Street' on the gate as shown in the film, nor has there ever been.
In the above frame, the sign »Harley Street« placed by the studio is visible left of frame and Devonshire Street turns left a few meters into the foreground at the traffic signal. The London taxi, visible approaching the camera, is still the same type in use today.
+ Harley Street at Google Maps
Camp Freddie, Michael Dealey, Sir Noel, Sir Michael.
CRIME SYNDICATE BOARD MEETING at PENINSULA HEIGHTS
Scene: Crocker telephones Camp Freddie at a meeting (00:16:26)
Location: Peninsula Heights Apartment Complex, Albert Embankment, London. Formerly known as 'Alembic House'.
Directions: From the Houses of Parliament, travel up river to Lambeth Bridge. As you cross Lambeth Bridge, look up-river. Peninsula Heights is on the first building on the Southern embankment, between the road and the river, nearest to you.
Approx Co-Ordinates: 51 29 22.19 N 0 07 23.82 W
This is the interior of the penthouse suite at Peninsula Heights apartment building. The producer of The Italian Job, Stanley Baker , owned the top two floors. Presently this apartment is owned by Lord Archer . I found this building using the frame from the movie which shows the riverscape in the background. From there, I searched the grid square from which the shot must have come. The first building next to Vauxhall Bridge was the site of what is now headquarters of the British Military Intelligence services, MI5 (used in a number of movie locations itself) which has been newly constructed, so I proceeded to the next building along toward Lambeth Bridge , which was an office block. It did not seem to be there and they told me that next door was an office block used by the police force, so it would not be there. Next was Peninsula Heights. Like all locations, it seems very obvious, after-the-fact, when you know where it is. While you are finding it, uncertainty reigns. I made contact with the longest-serving doorman at Peninsula Heights and he confirmed that Stanley Baker had had an apartment there for years and he remembered the filming of The Italian Job.
At 00:30:19 Crocker chairs a meeting in the same room, which now sports a large map of Torino on the end wall.
In the above frame, the boardroom at Peninsula Heights, fitted with a map of Torino for us in Charlie's meeting.
At 00:31:43 the camera shows a view of the Millbank Tower , a Sixties office block which is just across on the North bank of the river and pans over to give a view of the Houses of Parliament.
In the above frame, you can see the Millbank Tower to the left and the Houses of Parliament to the right. Notice the balcony rail outside the window. If you watch closely in the seconds either side of this Frame, you can see members of the Crew moving slightly in the Background in the Reflection in the Window. Charlie Croker's suit by Douglas Hayward of Mount Street.
In the above photograph, you can see the view from the same angle as the camera shooting Michael Caine as he walks in front of the window. The section of building to the upper right corner of frame is actually the lowermost part of Peninsula Heights.
In the above photograph, Peninsula Heights from the North Bank of the Thames River.
In the above photograph, Peninsula Heights from the North Bank, upriver of Lambeth Bridge. The annotations show the two windows of »the Boardroom«.
Not included in the camera pan in the movie and directly opposite Peninsula Heights on the opposite bank of the river is the Tate Gallery (a good place to find coffee and something to eat). Slightly down stream, next door to the Tate Gallery is the Millbank Tower.
In the satellite image above, you can see the position of the Peninsula Heights Apartment Complex and its view of the Millbank Tower and further downstream the Houses of Parliament.
In the map above, the red dot indicates the position of Peninsula Heights Apartment Complex, the yellow circle, Millbank Tower.
Route: Recommended approach on foot is from Westminster London Underground Station, coming South, up-river, past the Houses of Parliament through Parliament Square, then crossing Lambeth Bridge to the South Bank of the River Thames and down Albert Embankment to Peninsula Heights.
In the above photograph, taken from Vauxhall Bridge looking down river, you can see Peninsula Heights apartment complex. Stanley Baker's apartments were the top two floors of Peninsula Heights. The building to the right of Peninsula Heights is an office block used by the police. The building adjacent to Vauxhall Bridge on this side of the river is the headquarters of the British Secret Intelligence Services, MI5.
In the above frame from the 1968 cold-war spy movie Dandy in Aspic , you can see Peninsula Heights within months of being used for The Italian Job.
In the above frame from the1968 cold-war spy movie Dandy in Aspic, looking upriver from the South Bank of the River Thames you can see Peninsula Heights within months of being used for The Italian Job. In the movie Blood Diamond , the Rolls-Royce pulls up on the road just to the left of the Soviet Spy in the foreground, out of frame.
- Peninsula Heights at Google Maps
THE GANG PREPARE THE VEHICLES AT THE FACTORY
It is repeated that at the time of filming and for a many years afterwards, Michael Caine could not operate a motor vehicle and did not possess a drivers license. When filming The Battle of Britain the has to depart the frame at the wheel of an automobile and to achieve this effect the studio had lots of extras and stuntmen out of shot pull the vehicle via a rope. If you notice in the frame below, Michael Caine is at the wheel of an automobile and is certainly controlling it. However, close inspection of the scene reveals that the motor on the vehicle is not running and the car has been pushed from out of frame in order that Michael Caine can operate the brake and bring it to a halt. While not completely clear, he does not appear to reach for the ignition keys to kill the motor before alighting the vehicle.
In the above frame, Michael Caine arrives the gang's hideout at the wheel of his Aston Martin. This scene was shot using the studio buildings.
BLOWING THE DOORS OFF - CRYSTAL PALACE
Scene: Crocker and Arthur blow the doors off the van (00:34:12)
Location: Crystal Palace Park , London
Approx Co-Ordinates: 51 25 10.02 N 0 04 26.47 W
Directions: From Victoria Station take a train to Crystal Palace station. Walk back along the platform towards Victoria and out of the station bearing to your right and into Crystal Palace Park. Within fifty yards you will find yourself on the bridge you can see in the upper left of the frame at 00:34:13. By road, Crystal Palace Station is on the A214 which is off the A23 South out of central London.
Note if you are leaving this location for home then you need to plan your route to the ferry very carefully. The route from central London to the ferry is difficult to follow and it is not signposted. There are several junctions where the correct way is not obvious. Use several maps and note all road designations as well as the names of towns further down the route for which you are heading. From here It is best to head East to the ferry route (A2, A20) and not South.
The Crystal Palace was originally a large glass and wrought iron building erected in central London for the Great Exhibition of 1851. It was removed to a site in South London but destroyed by fire in 1936. At the time of filming, there was a small motor racing circuit in the grounds and this is where the van was blown up. The motor racing circuit was closed in 1973 but one small building which appears in the frame of the film still stands and so does much of the surface of the original track. The small building is the small square building behind the van. Crocker and Arthur stand to the North of this area on the terraces which are the remaining foundations of the Crystal Palace. Behind them, in the frame is the BBC's giant Crystal Palace transmitter which, at night, can be seen from any tall building in central London. You can access the area by vehicle and drive on the original locations.
As the doors blow off the van you can see the bridge over the race track to the station which still remains. The conjunction of paddock roads at the edge of the race track by the small brick hut is still there although the section of track which curves through the right of the frame into the foreground is no longer present.
It is likely that it was the Crystal Palace station building which is the building which has its windows blown out as is mentioned in the documentary.
There was no difficulty finding the Location because of the identification of the Crystal Palace Transmitter Tower which is visible from all over London. When Matthew Field published his book on the film the location was listed as 'Sydenham Common', which does not exist.
There is BBC archive footage of motor races at Crystal Palace (1971) with which the locations can be compared.
In the satellite photograph above Crystal Palace railway station is marked at the lower edge center. It is from here you will arrive and cross into the park, arriving almost immediately at the location of the Post Office van.
In the satellite photograph above, you can see the position of Crystal Palace railway station at the bottom edge of the photograph. As you proceed north out of the station across the bridge, marked, the position of the Post Office van is directly to your left.
In the above photograph, the view of the Crystal Palace transmitter from close to the location of the Post Office van.
» Four ! «
In the frame above, you can just make out the outline of Crystal Palace railway station to the upper right of frame. The bridge upper center of frame is the footbridge from the station into what was then the motor racing circuit.
In the above photograph, the location of the demise of the most famous Post Office van in history.
In the above photograph, the location of the camera for the explosion of the post office van. The shots of the count-down showing the post office van each in a steadily longer lens were all taken from a vantage point to the left of this camera position which was used to shoot the actual explosion.
- Blowing the doors off - at www.youtube.com
- Crystal Palace Motor Racing Circuit History
- Good history of the Crystal Palace site
- http://www.motorsportatthepalace.co.uk/ - Motor racing resumes at Crystal Palace
Scene: The chinless wonders practice jumping a ramp in their Mini Coopers.
Location: Crystal Palace Park, London
Approx Co-Ordinates: 51 25 11.97 N 0 04 00.97 W
This scene was shot on the opposite side of the motor racing circuit to the scene with the post office van at Crystal Palace. A sports center has been constructed on the infield of the track and other landscaping has obscured any reference points other than the track itself which still remains in front of the sports center. You can see the markings on the asphalt surface which used to mark the starting grid of the racing track. This find was accidental, as I had no idea where the jumping Minis were filmed. I was going to check every motor racing circuit in Southern England. This may well have been fruitless as the environs of the motor racing circuits have changed completely since 1968. It was only while inspecting the remains of the track at Crystal Palace did it occur to me that the jumping Minis might have been filmed at this location. Recently (2009) Motor Racing has resumed at Crystal Palace. As a result of the location of the Mini Cooper jump sequence being unearthed the Mini Cooper Club now stage an annual run at the Crystal Palace Circuit.
BBC Archive footage of motor racing from 1971:
The above map shows the configuration of the Crystal Palace circuit in 1968. Why the rising ground near the Station is called Maxim Rise I cannot say, but Hiram Maxim , inventor and industrialist extraordinaire, lived in this area toward the end of his life and is buried in a cemetery nearby.
In the composite image, above, you can match the form and branches of the Scots Pine tree, and the tree to the left of the Scots Pine tree in the frame. The spectator stands are visible for the length of the start and finish straight. The infield and paddock is to the left of frame.
In the above composite image, the two frames are superimposed in a different order.
In the above frame, you can see the ramp has been set up on the starting grid of the 1968 layout of Crystal Palace motor racing circuit. In 1969 the starting grid moved to the opposite side of the circuit, where Croker stands to watch the doors being blown off the van. The two E-type Jaguars and the Aston Martin are visible in the background. The exact position of the cars can be determined using the Scots Pine tree, the position of the camera, and the position of the ramp.
1964 Monte Carlo Rally: Mini Cooper
Mini Coopers in the 1967 Monte Carlo rally: License plate LBL 6 D competitor number 177
In the above photographs, the remains of the old Crystal Palace motor racing circuit, showing the section used by the Mini Coopers to practice jumping.
In the above montage, the entire horizon of the mini jumping location, formed from frames from the movie.
Crystal Palace Park - The Minis Jump. The distinctive Scots Pine tree has been felled. The only tree which matches the original is the tree with the silver automobile parked below it in our line of sight, but even this tree has been pollarded. The stands, upon which Michael Caine and his assistants would have stood, would have been to the right of center frame near what is now the bridge.
In the above tableau, a comparison of the horizon.
Scene: Mr Bridger reviews the 16mm Ciné report shot in Torino by Camp Freddie ((00:37:28))
Locations: In Torino: Piazza Palazzo di Citta, Piazza Vittorio Veneto, the Gran Madre, Ponto Vittorio Emanuele I
In the above frame, Camp Freddie speaks from the Piazza Palazzo di Città .
In the above frame, Piazza Vittorio Veneto , Torino from the steps of the Gran Madre.
In the above frame, Piazza Vittorio Venito , Torino, from the steps of the Gran Madre, over looking the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele I
In the above frame, camera angle is reversed, to look up at the Gran Madre .
In the frame above, the Weir immediately downstream of the Ponto Vittorio Emanuele I, under the Gran Madre, Torino
Scene: Mr Bridger arranges a funeral at which Mr Croker will attend.
Location: Cruagh Cemetery, at Cruagh, South of Dublin on Edmondstown Road, Ireland.
In the above Map, the Entrance Gateposts of Cruagh Cemetery.
Scene: Charlie and the Gang review the plane of the heist on the blackboard at the Gang's factory hideout.
Charlie and the gang review the plan of the heist at the Porta Palazzo, Torino.
ON THE FERRY
Dover Ferry Port at Google Maps
The entrance to Dover Harbor. Foreground are the roll-on-roll-off ramps for the ferries. Remember that recently a woman was stopped from boarding the ferry because she had a set of golf clubs in her automobile. The security personnel told her that the golf clubs could be used as a weapon and therefore she could not board the ferry. The is called "PTSD" or "Post Traumatic Stupidity Disorder". The fact that every automobile contains a tire iron as well as bottles of duty free whiskey was totally beyond the cretins operating the security screening. Be aware that you will likely encounter some very stupid functionaries at this ferry terminal and others in England. Prepare accordingly.
Scene: Harrington Legionnaire Coach arrives in Italy (00:41:12)
Location: Below Between Courmayeur and Pré St Didier at Champex on the SS26, in the Val D'Aosta . The Italian side of Mont Blanc is visible in the background.
Approximate Co-Ordinates: 45 46 24.26 N - 06 58 56.05 E
At Google Maps
Extra directions can be found here.
There are quite a few scenes filmed within minutes of here, including the scene at the Electrical Substation. The new Autostrada constructed in 2006 which extends the six lane highway from the Valley all the way to the Mont Blanc Tunnel above Courmayeur has been built through this area. The team re-assemble at this dispersal point during their escape at 01:29:00. I have found eyewitnesses who watched the filming here.
In the above frame, Mont Blanc is concealed by cloud. Cloud gathering around a peak in an otherwise clear sky is the sign of impending bad weather.
View Larger Map
In the above frames 01:29:00, the entire scene is shot in two takes. In both takes the camera remains in position and uses a fixed lens, not a zoom lens.
In the second take, watch in the final frame, as the camera is pointed upwards to view Monte Bianco, the distortion within the lens toward its outer sections distorts the line of the wall. The line of the wall is straight while it is in the center portions of the lens, but in the outer (lower in this case) portions, distortions have set in as the lens designers have tried to perfect the lens within its central area. See how much distortion in the frame is required in the last frame to correct the distortion in the lens. If you watch the two takes and keep your eyes on the line of the wall, it bends upwards or downwards, depending on whether it finds itself at the top of the frame or the bottom of it.
This scene and these two takes are a masterpiece of storytelling by the director and the cameraman. They include dynamic scenes of vehicle arrival and departure, story continuity lines from Michael Caine, and a comic scene which extends Benny Hill's character, requiring face-to-face full frame dialog in front of a specific background vista. All of this is achieved with a single camera in a single position in a single take using a singlelens. A bravura performance by all concerned. Those witnessing it should have applauded and demanded an encore, that they perform again.
((00:41:10)) Arrival in the Alps at Pré St Didier - Scene One
((00:41:33)) Arrival in the Alps at Pré St Didier - Scene Two
The two takes can be seen in panorama, here, as well as the directions to the location.
In the above map, the path of the vehicles under the Superstrada SS26 and onto the junction.
In the above map, the location is shown and its relation to the houses of Champex. Pré St Didier is off the map in the direction of Aosta. The vehicles arrive from under the underpass of the SS26 and halt at the junction, thence onto the Superstrada SS26 and down the valley in the direction of Aosta.
In the above photograph, the location in its post-2006 damage due to the construction of the Autostrada , which you can see flowing by immediately behind it. Another one hundred meters further and the location would have been untouched.
Courmayeur by J.M.W. Turner in 1806
As related in Matthew Field's excellent book The Making of the Italian Job, the crew stayed in Courmayeur during filming at an hôtel described as newly built and having many modern conveniences such as electrically operated blinds. This hôtel was the newly constructed Hôtel Royal on the Via Roma. The 'earthquake' reported by the crew speaking to Matthew Field was in fact a huge rockfall from Mont Chetif, which is the mountain which separates Courmayeur from Mont Blanc. There are also periodic rockfalls from the Brenva Glacier , which tumbles from Mont Blanc toward Courmayeur (to the left flank of Monte Bianco in the frame above), behind Mont Chetif. A couple of thousand tonnes of rock and ice will cascade down the valley toward Courmayeur with a huge roar and rumble, driving a wind before it which can be felt several of kilometers distant. I was not present the day of the last rockfall but a friend who was present said that even though he was high on the other side of the valley, he could first hear the huge rumble then several seconds later, a great wave of air which had been displaced by the rockfall. One person was killed down on the piste which leads back to Courmayeur when he was squashed against a tree by the wave of boulders. The piste has been closed ever since then but is accessible to the adventurous.
Matthew Field recently has toured many of The Italian Job locations which raises the possibility he will produce a second, expanded edtion of his reference work. Matthew Field also contributes to the excellent movie magazine Cinema Retro
- Skiing at Courmayeur
Hôtel Royal e Golf
The main Courmayeur ski area. This is up to your right as you descend the valley road from the Mont Blanc tunnel down to Courmayeur and thence Aosta. The lowermost piste on the right, down the edge of the glacier was closed in 1996 after a 2000 tonne rockfall from higher up Monte Bianco cascaded down the glacier.
The above topographic map from IGC showing Monte Bianco and the valley of Courmayeur.
The map data is from 1989 and so it shows the tunnel at La Thuile in its original condition (wish I had taken a photograph then) and the proposed route of the now constructed Autostrada to Aosta. The large white area above the tunnel entrance is the Mont Blanc massif and on the far side of it in France is Chamonix.
Scene: The two E-type Jaguars and the Aston Martin moving quickly through the Alpine landscape. ((00:42:08))
Location: Road to Cogne , Val D'Aosta, between the last two Canopies before Vieyes, around Kilometer 11.
Co-Drivers: As you leave the location of the Mafia Welcome, going up the valley toward Cogne, half way to Vieyes you will cross the River on a Bridge. After this be on your guard after Kilometer 10 as this Location is now a short straight between the last two canopies before Vieyes. In the first Scene, below, the Camera is situated on the Road Edge, just at the start of what is now the second, last canopy. The camera is looking back down the Valley toward the Bridge and the Mafia Welcome, at the approaching cars.
In the second shot of the Scene, the camera is mounted on the hillside, directly above the first camera position. The camera looks up the valley in the direction of Cogne, and over the village of Vieyes, the rooftops of which can be seen in the upper left of frame. The Three Fast Cars disappear in the direction of Vieyes and Cogne.
Most of the surplus footage shot during the making of the film is discarded after a year. It is painful to think of all the unused footage in which we could have viewed more of this far-off dreamy time, gone forever.
In the above frame, note the mad Englanders on the wrong side of the Road. Behind the camera is the last canopy before Vieyes. The course of the road has been moved inward toward the mountainside. The old road would have used what is now the Apron area on the right of frame.
In the above map, you can see the course of the Three Fast Cars marked by the red arrows. This is immediately after the second to last canopy before Vieyes, on a 100m stretch of road before entry into the last canopy before Vieyes.
In the above frame, the Three Fast Cars pass the camera position. This embankment is now a tunnel, and the kink has been taken out of the road.
Scene Two of "Three Fast Cars on the Road"
In the above frame, the Three Fast Cars disappear out of sight toward Vieyes. This section of road is now within the tunnel and canopy. The line of the road itself has been straightened during construction of the tunnel.
In the above Map, the Three Fast Cars enter the curve and proceed toward Vieyes.
In the above tableau, the second shot in the »Three Fast Cars« scene. The village of Vieyes is just visible further up the Cogne Valley in the direction of Cogne, toward the upper left of frame. This is not the camera position used in the movie. That is upon the hillside further down this road directly above the camera position for the first scene.
Scene: The unexpected Mafia welcome ((00:42:26))
Location: Road from Aosta to Cogne SR47, at Pont D'Ael, after Pondel and before Chevril.
The great dramatic tension which this iconic scene creates can become obscured by the years of observing the detail in the scene, the actors, actresses, automobiles and alpine scenery. The Italian Job is possossed of several great dramatic crux and this is one of them. If you find that your imagination continually returns to a scene, to re-live it, to re-play it differently, then this is a sign that the Screenwriter has created great dramatic tension. The first time I saw the film, my imagination returned to this scene again and again, as well as the cliffhanger ending. I would lie awake at night re-playing the scene, and the actions I wished I could have taken. Like most automobile fanciers, the well-being of one's favorite cars is almost as valuable as one's own life. And certainly great risks would be run to preserve their well-being. Hence the tension which this scene creates. The fact is that whatever you introduce into this scene, be it rapid and violent manouvring of the car, or taking up positions behind the car with firearms, the Mafia have planned the ambush to the letter and there really is no other option for Charlie Croker than to take the course of action followed in the script. A masterpiece of ambush-laying.
The landscape of Northern Italy lends itself well to these kind of ambushes. Mussolini was ambushed in the Italian Lakes below Dongo where the road kinks out into the lake to go around a huge boss of rock. On the other side of the boss of rock just around the corner, waiting behind a road block of large rocks, were Communist Partisans.
In the above tableau, the small raised drainage canal upon which the Mafiosi stand to welcome Charlie Croker to Italy.
In the above tableau, the rocky mountainside upon which the Mafiosi were arrayed.
IGC 1:50,000: The Cogne Valley
In the above three photographs, the scene as the Three Fast Cars comes to a halt. The electricity pylon is marked by the red bar. The position of the Mafiosi on the small canal and above it is also shown.
In the above three photographs, the frames showing the Aston Martin DB4 being tipped over the edge. The camera changes position to below the parapet and you can see through the longer lens, more detail in the mountainside opposite.
»Ouch !« 848 CRY receives a re-modeling.
The English members of the E-type Register call this Film »The Horror Movie «.
License plate 848 CRY
In the above photograph, the location where the Three Fast Cars halt.
This looks like Sir Michael Caine adding finishing touches to the E-type Jaguar. The man standing behind him looks like Peter Collinson. In the Sixties, they really knew how to cut trousers.
The location of the »Mafia Welcome«.
In the above photograph, you can see the corner used in the Mafia Welcome and above it the electricity pylon which is visible in the movie frame.
The gorge below the Mafia Welcome into which the Ersatz Aston Martin DB4 disappears.
The gorge into which the Ersatz Aston Martin DB4 disappears.
In the photographs above and below, this is the final approach to the Mafia Welcome. E-type owners: Prepare for some real pain.
This is a photograph taken through a telefoto lens, with the camera pointing back down the valley from above the Mafia Welcome.
Piste Map of Courmayeur.
Mont Blanc is up the right of frame. The Mont Blanc tunnel is out of frame to the right. Direction of Aosta, down the valley is to the left.
The Valley of Cogne, the Gran Paradiso, the Col di Nivolet from Denzel's Grosser Alpen Strassen Führer.
Sights of Val D'Aosta from Edward Denzel's Grosser Alpen Strassen Führer published by Denzel Verlag, Innsbruck.
Overview of the French passes from Merrick's The Great Motor Highways of the Alps (1958)
Scene: Crocker throws his bicycle into the electricity sub-station (00:47:45)
Location: Between Champex and Pré St Didier, Aosta Valley, Italy.
Approx Co-Ordinates: 45 45 59.23 N 6 59 02.34 E
Directions: At the junction of the road Frazione Champex and the Rue Vemey below the Super Strada 26 as it passes over the river in the direction of La Thuile. It is located right in the bottom of the valley.
In the above frame, Charlie Crocker throws his Bicycle onto the Substation ((00:48:03)). The Road to La Thuile is to his left and takes an immediate Hairpin to the left going back up the Mountainside. Michael Caine is standing on the Hairpin. The road to the bottom of the valley, and thence Pré St Didier continues down to the Right.
Crocker cycles as if cycling toward La Thuile, and the sub-station appears on this right. He pushes his bicycle up the right hand side of the bank overlooking the sub-station and throws it from there.
This was another location I kept driving past and getting a familiar feeling. At that stage I was not looking for the Substation, which I had assumed was near Torino. I was still working on the primary scene with the Miura and the dispersal and re-assembly points of the Vehicles, all of which I had driven past several times that very day without seeing them. Locations are not obvious until you have found them and I was working both the Italian side and the Swiss side of the Grand St Bernard pass, checking the tunnels and road canopies on the Swiss side. I was not looking for the Substation at that time and it was not until a telephone conversation with a member of the crew several months afterwards did they mention that I must have passed the location of the Electricity Substation. I replied that I wished they had told to me this information earlier as then I could documented and photographed the location while I was there. The Film Crew, if you can find them, are rarely able to tell you more than which country the Film was made in. They just do not remember the details, especially after several decades have passed. Let me tell you: Hiking over Alpine passes in knee-deep snow is a hot, slow way of looking for Movie Locations.
In the above Photograph, the position of Charlie Croker on the Hairpin Bend above the Electrical Substation. While the eventual fate and ownership of the Lamborghini Miura, the Aston Martin DB4, the two E-type Jaguars and the Mini Coopers is the subject of much discussion and print: What happened to Charlie Croker's bicycle ?
In the above Map, Charlie Croker huffs and puffs as he cycles up the Hill to reach the Hairpin Bend above the Substation.
In the above Map, the position of the Hairpin bend on which Charlie Croker stood to throw the Bicycle.
In the above map, Charlie Croker walks back down to the valley the way he came as the the Italian Police hasten to investigate a mysterious power-cut.
Scene: At the Dinner Party hosted by the Mafia Boss
In the above frame, the camera pans from the entry of the candelabra to the visage of Raf Vallone , in one of the great pieces of cinematography.
Scene: The gang break into torino traffic control center ((00:48:24)).
Location: The DER Building , called »Apex House« at Apex Corner, Twickenham Road, West of Twickenham, in West London, England.
This Building was destroyed during the expansion of the old two-lane trunk road into a six lane highway during the eighties.
In the above frame, the DER building at Twickenham.
+ 1968 - The Route the crew of The Italian Job would have taken from London to Aosta and Turin
In 1968 only Germany had Autobahns , all of which had been built in the pre-war period. At this time, crossing Europe would, in some instances, involve planning your route to enable you to cover the greatest distance on the Autobahns. Italian Job Tours
France possessed some stretches of Autoroute in the 1960s but did not start building in earnest until the late Seventies. The A6/A7 "Autoroute du Soleil" which takes Parisian vacation traffic all the way to the Riviera was not completed until 1974 but section south of Paris to Dijon was complete in 1968. . The Boulevard Périphérique in Paris, started in 1962 was not complete until 1973.
The original trunk road network of France was the "Route Nationale" system. Like most countries' trunk road networks it was constructed in the Twenties, in response to the increasing presence of the then twenty year old Automobile. Outside of this French roads were, most commonly, hard gravel surfaced carriage roads, sometimes asphalted.
The journey to the Alps from London taken by the crew would have been entirely on trunk roads: "Two-lane black-top". There was much less traffic in 1968 and with the exception of the infamous French national vacations, traffic jams were largely unknown. To cross France the crew of The Italian Job (1969) would have arrived in Calais at the old Calais Maritime Station Dock where important trains like the Fleche d'Or and the Night Ferry would meet cross-Channel traffic and Ocean Liners. 'Roll-on Roll-off' ferries were a recent invention and you can see one of them in the movie which the gang board at Dover . Most ships at this time were still loading vehicles onto the deck with a crane.
! AVOID EUROTUNNEL !
I highly recommend to you use of the Ferry Service, as as the Eurotunnel company are one of worst companies I have ever dealt with in terms of deceitfulness and exploitation of customers, a view shared by all I have spoken to. Following Charlie Crocker's original Route Dover-Calais will allow you both to tread in his footsteps and avoid the Eurotunnel Company. A double benefit.
At Calais, while successively newer ferry terminal buildings have replaced the originals, the railway tracks which cross the site and the road are still visible.
The route taken by the members of he crew who delivered the three Mini Coopers used in the movie was via Switzerland, via Lausanne, using the route Calais-Arras-Riems-Marne-Valley-Langres-Bescançon-Lausanne-Martigny and over the Grand St Bernard Pass. You can see this route marked as one of the routes in Merrick's route-finding diagram, below.
An Anglo-centric overview of the the pre-Autoroute routes from England to France from Merrick's The Great Motor Highways of the Alps (1958). You can see the route used by the Mini Coopers: Calais-Arras-Riems-Marne-Valley-Langres-Bescançon-Lausanne-Martigny and over the Grand St Bernard Pass.
In the days before Autobahns, crossing Europe was done using route finding tables of ringbound A5 books. Normally the tables were issued by the respective automobile association of the country. The crew of The Italian Job (1969) would have used the route-finding table provided by the English Automobile Association , "AA", (equivalent of DDAC). For 1968, the route-finding information for approach to the Mont Blank tunnel was:
To northern Italy via Lake Geneva or southern France:
The shortest route to Lausanne via Arras, Riems, the Marne valley, Langres, and Bescançon is also the quickest. Between Lausanne and Milan there is a choice: either through the Grand St Bernard Tunnel or over the Simplon Pass (with alternative rail tunnel). In summer the Simplon pass is the more interesting, but for the time being long sections of the road over the summit are bad, due to long-term reconstruction works. For Turin you can use Mont Blank Tunnel approached by Dijon and Geneva, or the the straightforward Mont Cenis Pass approached by way of Chambéry. For sane Remo and the nearby Mediterranean coast it is quite usual to follow the 'Riviera Route' in full.
Along these Route Nationale the famous Routier restaurants provided refreshment to road-worn travelers and truck drivers. Some were very good although the memory of some of the meals taken is accentuated by the great hunger and thirst which would build up while keeping pit stops solely for fuel in order to make the fastest possible time. As a general rule, when spotting good Routier watch out for clusters of French trucks, particularly in the evening, as the truck drivers get to know the really good Routier and patronize them. With the advent of the Autoroute, many Routier are now in backwaters but are still patronized by new generations of drivers who learned of their whereabouts from the older generation.
While the two E-type Jaguars, the Aston Martin DB4 and the Mini Coopers would be fun to push hard up the grades when climbing the Jura or the Alps. Trucks ands coaches such as the Harrington Legionnaire would have to start to use the mid range of their gears to grind up the inclines. You can see plenty of period trucks in the background of The Italian Job (1969) on the sets in Torino. At that time turbochargers were rare and the trucks had to have fourteen, sixteen and eighteen speed gearboxes to enable them to climb the Alpine passes. It was slow, hot work.
In the above Frame, a »Tandem« Truck & Trailer combination cross the background. Most Freight trucks in Europe at this time were Tandems and not the articulated Tractor-Trailer type
Articulated tractor-trailor unit of the same era.
Once you have ascended to the altitude of Geneva at 400m, there is a flat stretch before the climb to Chamonix, which switch-backs up the mountainside in a long series of nasty curves hacked into the sheer rock of the mountainside. Every time I drove those curves I would burst into
»We are the self-preservation, so-ci-e-ety«.
Once the crux is attained there is a short pull up the Chamonix Valley and the Mont Blanc tunnel appears up to your right. Out of the other side of the tunnel you are looking directly down into the valley of Courmayeur and the locations of The Italian Job.
We are the self-preservation society, the self preservation society.
(We are the self-preservation society, the self preservation society.)
Put on your almond rocks and daisy roots
(Put on your socks and boots)
Brush your Hampstead Heath, wear your whistle-and-flute
(Brush your teeth, wear your suit)
Lots of lah-de-dahs and Cockneys here
(Lots of posh and common people from London here)
Look alive and get out of here
(Be alert and get out of here)
Get your skates on mate, get your skates on mate
(Hurry up mate, hurry up mate)
No bib around your Gregory Peck today, hey!
(No bib around your neck today, hey!)
Drop your plates of meat right on the seat
(Put your feet on the seat)
This is the self-preservation society, the self-preservation society
(This is the self-preservation society, the self-preservation society
Lyrics by Don Black - http://www.donblack.co.uk/
The music and choral work for the soundtrack was recorded at the Olympic Studios in Barnes.
All of France's Route Nationale are numbered and distances from a small dial set into the flag stones in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
- Route Nationale
- RN1 Calais to Paris
- RN 6
- Mont Blanc Tunnel
In 1968 in the absence of Autoroutes, alternative routes could be used to cross the road network with little difference in elapsed time. Ian Fleming in his novel Goldfinger details just such a Route which James Bond driving an Aston Martin DBIII uses to trail Auric Goldfinger and Tilly Masterson across France to Genève. Ian Fleming chooses a Route to the West of Paris
(Calais) - Le Touquet - Abbeville - Rouen - Orléans - Maçon - Bourg-en-Bresse - Bellegarde - Geneva
in preference to the route via Paris.
Driving flat out across France, day into night, was a lot more interesting and a lot more engaging in the pre-Autoroute era. In Chamonix in the 1960s I met some English skiers who used to drive a Lotus Cortina across the pre-Autoroute Route National roads during the night and set elapsed times which would be respectable in these days of Autoroute travel.
Overview of routes across France: Route The Italian Job (1969) (red); Route Paris (blue); Route Goldfinger (1959) (green) and Route Goldfinger (1964) (purple). The route Fleming has Bond take in 1959 terminates in Geneva, where the route Bond takes in 1964 begins and continues to Stans, Luzern.
Extracts from the Automobile Association route finding table issued to English drivers for 1968 for Calais to Paris and Paris to Geneva and Aosta. Any members of the crew who used the route Calais-Paris-Dijon-Nantua-Chamonix-Mont-Blanc-Courmayeur would have used this route.
- For points of interest in Paris see here
In the above map, the route indicated (in blue) by the AA route-finding tables for 1968, from Calais, Paris, Dijon, Geneva, Chamonix, Courmayeur.
For crossing France, it is useful to have a copy of the red Michelin Guide in order to select and book hotels as well as some of the excellent IGN series maps which detail specific themes such as wine regions, or historic sites.
In the above map, the Route The Italian Job (1969) off the A6 Autoroute through Dijon and on to the N5. The old N5 from the A6 Autoroute to Dijon has been overlain by the new Autoroute A38. From Dijon onwards the old N5 still exists.
In the above map, the Route The Italian Job (1969) over the Jura and the Col de la Faucille , through Geneva and onto the old Route Nationale road to Chamonix via Genève-Vaillard border post. Make sure you avoid the Autoroute from Geneva to Chamonix when you are leaving Geneva on the Route Blanc to Chamonix. The LDS topographic map for Geneva and environs is here.
LDS 1:25,000 topographic map: Col de La Faucille, north of Geneva. Geneva is full of classic sports cars and motorcycles so the Col de La Faucille sees them being exersized at weekends. There are a smatterings of cafés and restaurants around the Col where you can see a lot of interesting automobiles. The French IGN 1:50,000 topographic maps and the Swiss LDS 1:50,000 topographic maps are so good that on asphalt they can substitute for pacenotes.
The autoroute from Geneva to Chamonix has been laid alongside the old Route Nationale until the route reaches the gorge below the Chamonix valley where there is insufficient room for more than a two-lane highway. The new ramp was built up to the lip of the gorge (marked by two red triangles) taking two lanes of traffic up the valley. The old switch-back road was converted into a down-only two-lane road. Chamonix and the Mont Blanc tunnel are a few minutes after that.
Map of the Alps from Hugh Merrick's Great Motor Highways of the Alps . The shaded zone marks the impassable backbone of the Alps which separates Italy from Mitteleuropa. The backbone is crossed only by the high passes, one of which is the Grand St Bernard , used to film the opening sequence and the escape. The Petit St Bernard pass , from France at Bourg St Maurice over to Italy at Pre St Didier , passes through the tunnel used as the location for the Miura's collision with the bulldozer on the Italian side at La Thuile .
Michelin map of Haute Savoie 1:300,000 c1995 showing the major approaches (purple) to the Alpine passes into Savoy.
+ The French/Italian border (black line) follows the backbone of the Alps.
+ The locations used in The Italian Job are marked in red circles.
+ The French Autoroutes are marked in purple, the Route Nationale in red.
+ The passes are marked with red opposed arrow heads.
+ The Mont Blanc tunnel is the straight red oblong from Chamonix in France to Courmayeur in Italia
!! Achtung !!: If you are driving through Morzine, there is a old yellow labrador dog who likes to cross the road on the pedestrian crossing as you enter the village (coming from Geneva). Make sure you stop for him. He does not always walk all the way to the edge of the crossing but crosses at a diagonal, so be prepared to stop before he reaches the crossing.
If you compare the topographic map above this road map you will see that you have to cross the backbone of the Alps and drop into the Val D'Aosta in Italy. You must do this via the the Col de Petit St Bernard (lower), the Mont Blanc Tunnel, or (right) the Grand St Bernard Pass.
To reach the Grand St Bernard Pass from the French Autoroutes and Geneva, you have to swing north around Lac Leman . The alternative is to drive up to Chamonix and cross the pass into Martigny then sharp right up the Grand St Bernard.
To approach the Col de Petit St Bernard from Geneva, you have to take the route marked in red along the lake at Annecy. This Route National has gradually been widened over the years to add sections of four-lane divided highway. To make any speed along this route you must be good at overtaking.
The four lane sections going uphill to the French ski resorts in the Val D'Isere can feature French police speed traps. The French police know that foreign drivers are going fast at the end of long journeys or at the start of them. These routes are particularly busy with traffic on 'changeover' days at the weekends during ski season. They are ever busier when this coincides with the start of French vacations. The first weekend of the Easter vacation was notorious as the weekend of death on the roads. Because France is a centralized socialist state the entire country will all do the same thing at once. At one time all school pupils in France would study the same subject at the same hour of the day. This effect creates a huge hazard when applied to the timing of vacations and the quantity of traffic on the French roads. Check the dates of French vacations before planning your journey. Avoid those dates or use darkness and clear roads. Other hazards to watch out for are the various laws which prohibit trucks from moving on certain days of the week or certain days of the year such as national vacations. This creates hazards in unexpected places. For example when Italy prohibits trucks moving on a day of national vacation, the French police have to close the upbound side of the Autoroute from the gorge below Chamonix nearly all the way back to Geneva. This is in order to stack up twenty-four hours worth of trucks arriving from northern and western Europe who will swing at anchor until the tunnel is open again. Automobiles are diverted off the Autoroute onto the Route Nationale..
Once in Torino, the principal cast stayed at the Hôtel Principe di Torino , whereas the crew found for themselves apartments to share.
Matthew Field relates in his book The Making of The Italian Job how the production office was established in Torino (page 42):
"Arriving in Turin, Troy Kennedy Martin recalls the immediate gracefulness of Gianni Agnelli. 'When we arrived at the beginning of shooting in Malpenza, we were met by Agnelli's nephew. He formally welcomed us to Italy and he was going to take us to a wonderful restaurant in the mountains that overlooked Milan."
There is no location around Milano where this is possible. It is likely that the crew meant Torino, or that Torino was misprinted as Milano. It is almost certain that the restaurant was in the hills to the east of Torino, where the Agnelli residence is situated.
Gianni Agnelli in the pits at Le Mans, 1967.
Careful study of the man Gianni Agnelli is well repaid. Gianni Agnelli himself owned a number of Ferraris throughout his life:
0064M 166 MM Barchetta Touring RHD
dark blue and green
Jaques Swaters (B)
0211EL 212 Inter Coupe / Vignale RHD
black with gray top
Engelbert E. Steiger (CH)
0355AL 375 America Coupe / Speciale Pininfarina LHD
04/55 - 1955
dark green with dark red top
Jack E. Thomas ( USA)
1017GT 250 GT Coupe/ Pininfarina LHD
Burnt with Patrick Faucompre
1517SA 400 Super America Coupe/ Pininfarina LHD
Gil Ranney (USA)
8815 365 P3 Pininfarina CEN Turin
Edgar Bensoussan (F)
17929 365GT4 Berlinetta Boxer Scaglatti LHD
Crashed badly by Agnelli's son
Umberto Agnelli , who looks like he is appearing in a movie, in the Ferrari pits, Le Mans 1967.
You can get a good overview of the city of Torino from the hill of Basilica Superga . If you are traveling in convoy then this is a good place to pull up and regroup on arrival in Torino. There is plenty of space to park and you can get some coffee.
View over Torino to the South from the Basilica Superga
Torino from the Basilica Superga. The Mole Antonelliana is center frame.
Scene: The gang prepare for the robbery at their hideout ((00:53:18)).
Location: Villa della Regina
Villa della Regina ((00:53:18)). Restored in the 1990s.
Peter Collinson and Michael Caine at the Villa della Regina, Torino
The Land-Rover departs the Villa Della Regina
The Mini Coopers depart the Villa della Regina for the mission. Note the red-white-blue running order of the Minis, which is maintained throughout their scenes.
There was a scene filmed here at the house where a car (Rolls-Royce) was used to drive in a tight circle then come to a slithering halt. This was the scene in which clapper loader David Wynn-Jones was injured. Some of the crew were upset about this.
Scene: Professor Peach finds a new love interest ((00:55:51))
Location: Corso Raffaello junction.
In the above Tableau, Benny Hill boards the Tram in pursuit of his Inamorata.
In the above Tableau, the tram turns right into Corso Raffaello. Constructions along the left hand side of the Road have hidden the building visible in the original Movie frame, which still exists.
In the above frame, the Piazza Castello ((01:01:15)) and the church of San Lorenzo
Mole Antonelliana ((01:01:56))
Scene: Fred plants another jamming device
Locations: Mole Antonelliana
In the above frame, the Convoy turns in front of the Porta Nuova Railway Station of Torino into the Piazza Carlo Felice ((01:02:06)). The black FIAT in which the Mafia follow the convoy was driven back to England after its Torino location shots in order to be used in the studio for close-up and interior shots.
Via Roma in the direction of Piazza San Carlo ((01:02:36))
Via 4 Marzo and Piazza San Giovanni ((01:03:00))
Piazza San Carlo ((01:04:01)) Ironically, the Piazza San Carlo has been closed to traffic for years, probably to prevent more gold heists.
Piazza San Carlo entrance from Via Roma ((01:04:03))
Leaving the Piazza San Carlo back up the Via Roma toward the Railway Station Porta Nuova ((01:04:51)).
In the above frame, the Piazza San Carlo ((01:04:00)).
In the above frame, the Piazza San Carlo ((01:04:32)).
Scene: The Land-Rover meets up with the route of the Gold Convoy ((01:05:37))
Location: Approach to Piazza Palazzo di Città from the West on the Via Milano.
In the above frame, the Land-Rover meets the path of the Gold Convoy in the Via Milano.
The Land-Rover waits in the Via Della Basilica at the junction with the Via Milano, which is the Piazetta Della Basilica.
The Land-Rover swerves into the Via Milano, next to the Church ((01:06:51))
PIAZZA PALAZZO DI CITÀ - THE HOLD UP
Scene: Camp Freddie on the balcony in Piazza Palazzo di Città ((01:07:13))
Location: Piazza Palazzo di Città
In the above frame, Camp Freddie looks down on the Piazza Palazzo di Città from the Pallazzo Civico awaiting the arrival of the Gold Convoy.
In the frame ((01:07:17)) above, Camp Freddie keeps a low profile, soars effortlessly to new sartorial heights and easily blends with his surroundings, with a superb pink lounge suite and white silk tie. I wonder where this suit is now ? Perhaps Bermans still have it. Pink wool suiting cloth is impossible to find. No weavers make it for obvious reasons. White wool suiting cloth, which could be made pink with pink dye, is almost impossible to find. After much thought I am of the opinion that the costumier used the lightest color wool suit cloth they could find, and dyed it pink. This is the only way of obtaining a pink lounge suit. A superb reference work on suiting cloth may be found at The London Lounge .
In the above Photograph, the Pallazzo Civico
Scene: The automobile transporters block the path of the Gold Convoy in the Piazza ((01:07:59))
Location: Location: Piazza Palazzo di Città
In the frame above, the Piazza Palazzo di Città
The statue Conte Verde is covered in Union Jack flags
In the above Satellite Image, the Ambush of the Gold Convoy.
In the above Frames, the interior of the oval Salon of the Palazzo Carignano
In the above Map, the Pallazzo Carignano, the oval Salon of which was used for the interior scene of the loading of the Gold into the Mini Coopers.
01:11:49 Palazzo Lascaris di Ventimiglia
THE MINIS DRIVE DOWN THE STAIRS OF A PALLAZO
In the above frame,the Minis drive down the stairway of the Palazzo Madama, which is situated in the Piazza Castello , ((01:13:04)).
Note the protection to the foot of the balustrade added by the film crew ((01:13:06)). The city administration of Torino and the Turinese themselves objected strongly to autos being driven through the Palazza Madamma but the intervention of the Agnelli family enabled the location to be used. Another example of how influential the Agnellis were is that they had the authorities close the Autostrada from Torino to Piacenza (running north east away from Torino) in order that Scuderia Ferrari could test the aerodynamics of the Ferrari 512 they were preparing for Le Mans.
Torino to Piacenza Autostrada A21. Piacenza is directly east of Torino, below Milano
THE MINIS DRIVE THROUGH A GALLERIA
Scene: The Minis drive through a Galleria after leaving the Piazza Palazzo di Città loaded with gold. ((01:13:14))
Location: Galleria Subalpina.
The Galleria Subalpina . Note the protective covering added to the edge of the flower container by the film crew.
In the above frame, the Piazza San Carlo ((01:13:39)).
The Stig, in Piazza San Carlo, Torino 2014-JUN for Top Gear. The Mini Coopers went down the far side of the square frame left to frame right and into the Galleria, out of frame to the right.
Piazza Della Repubblica (01:14:20)
Piazza Carlo Felice, in front of the Porta Nuova railway station ((01:14:31))
This location has been demolished in order to construct Torino's underground railway system.
The Via Manzoni ((01:14:55))
The Via Giovanni Giolitti 29 looking toward the Via San Massimo. The Dormobile enters the Via from the green Doors on the Left and disappears into the Instituto Congregazione Suore Di San Giuseppe Biblioteca. Roles are reversed in this case as ducking through short-cuts is a peculiar Italian specialty. When the Autostrada were constructed any traffic jam seemed to be circumvented by disappearing down agricultural tracks and along the edges of fields.
In the above Map, the path of the Dormobile across Via Giovanni Giolitti.
Galleria San Federico ((01:13:41))
Parallel to the Via Testona ((01:15:02))
Parallel to the Via Testona ((01:15:12)).
In the above Satellite Image, the location of the two ramps. The first ramp, show in take-off, within the Apartment Complex, and the second ramp, shown in landing, on the Via Ventimiglia.
Via Ventimiglia: The landing is actually perpendicular to the take-off, as if the Minis turned immediately left in mid-air ((01:15:19)).
In the above map, the location of the Jumping Minis and the location of the Minis on the Roof.
In the above frame, the steps of the Church of the Gran Madre , Torino ((01:15:27)). "Good Luck!"
In the above Map, the Gran Madre Church, showing the direction of the Mini Coopers as they descend the steps of the Church.
The Gran Madre
Via Po ((01:15:49))
The Pallazzo a Vela ((01:16:04)).
Co-Ordinates: 45 01 24 N - 07 40 09 E
In the above map, the approach of the Mini Coopers to the foot of the Palazzo a Vela. The small road which the Minis cross is now a four lane Highway.
Remy Julienne filming the deleted scene in the ice rink.
THE MINI DEALERS PARKING LOT
Scene: The Minis hide among other Minis and the Mini dealer's parking lot ((01:17:35))
Location: Between Via Lungo Stura Lazio and the River, at Rebaudengo to the North of Torino.
Directions: Off the Corso Guilo Cesare just as you cross the large bridge, on your right.
Approx Co-Ordinates: 45 06 37.73 N - 07 42 33.85 E
+ At Google Maps
.This is the location of FIAT's Iveco Truck manufacturing Plant. I have found eyewitnesses who watched the filming that day.
On the right is the Via Lungo Stura Lazio, at Rebaudengo, where you can see the build up of 'traffic' caused by the gang. The Minis make their way through the Parking Area of FIAT's Truck Plant, which is out of frame to the right on the other side of the Via Lungo Stura Lazio.
Via Lungo Stura Lazio, at Rebaudengo.
In the above map, the location of the "Mini Dealer" Parking Lot.01:17:18. In the background of the shots of that location can be seen the location of the weir used at 01:21:56.
View Larger Map
In the above frame, the Piazza San Carlo ((01:18:45))
Piazza San Carlo ((01:18:48))
Scene: The Minis race around the roof of the Fiat Factory ((01:18:50))
Location: Lingotto Fiat Factory
Co-Ordinates: 45 01 57 N - 7 39 52 E
Lingotto is now a shopping center and hotel complex. I have never tried to drive around the roof but you can certainly park in the basement. It is very difficult to contain one's excitement at this location. Must be almost impossible to contain one's excitement if one is actually driving a Mini Cooper.
In the above frame you can see the optical sound track down the left hand side. Optical sound is the sound track printed exactly as you see, and read by a selenium cell, which is light sensitive. It is a selenium cell which is used in camera light meters. From the invention of 'Talkies' after the Great War, through to the present day, it is optical sound which has provided the soundtrack for nearly all movies.
In the frame above, the entrance to the Lingotto underground parking lot and main approach is away down to left of frame. On the other side of the building you can see down into the above ground parking lot.
Lingotto prior to redevelopment. The railyards are visible at the rear of frame. Just out of frame is the locomotive shed complex which contained a »roundhouse«. They were called a roundhouse because they were built around a locomotive turntable, off which came the locomotive storage rails like the markings on a clock face, giving the locomotive shed a circular plan when viewed from the air. These locomotive sheds are now rare because diesel engines will travel in either direction, whereas steam locomotives had to be turned.
Lingotto as it was while FIAT still owned and operated it as a factory.
+ History and panoramic photographs of Lingotto
The FIAT factory in 1969.
In the above satellite image, the environs of Lingotto, the Palazzo a Vela, and the junction of the Via Testona and Via Ventimiglia where the Minis jumping the ramp was filmed.
Scene: The Minis jump across a Factory Roof.
Location: The FIAT Factory, Mirafiori on the Via Roberto Bisscaretti di Ruffia off the Corso Union Sovietica
The FIAT Factory
The FIAT Factory
Note the trucks lined up with cushioning in case any of the Minis missed the jump.
In the above Satellite Image, the roof of the FIAT factory used for the Jump.
In the above Map, Via Roberto Bisscaretti di Ruffia Corso Union Sovietica at the FIAT Factory Mirafiori.
Remy Julienne drivers on the roof. A Mini Cooper with a broken suspension arm has come to rest at the end of its tracks.
Scene: The Minis race along the quayside ((01:20:28))
Location: Via Murrazzi del Po. On the opposite bank of the Po from the Gran Madre. The Minis enter down the ramp from the direction of the Ponte Umberto I and head toward Ponte Vittorio Emmanuele I.
In the above frame, the Minis enter the Via Murrazzi del Po from the ramp at the Ponte Umberto I.
In the above frame, the Minis race along the Via Murrazzi del Po.
In the above Map the Quayside of the Via Murrazzi del Po.
THE PONTE VITTORIO EMANUELE I
Scene: The escaping Mini Coopers cross the Weir ((01:21:10))
Location: Just down stream of the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele I under the Gran Madre.
In the above frame, The escaping Mini Coopers complete the crossing of the Weir at the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele I
In the above map, the location of the Weir at the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele I.
Scene: The escaping Mini Coopers complete the crossing of the Weir at the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele I ((01:21:33))
Location: Location: Just down stream of the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele I, under the Gran Madre.
In the above frame, the minis complete the crossing of the Weir below the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele I .
Scene: The Minis cross a second weir.
Location: Ponte Ferdinando di Savoia on the Corso Guilo Cesare.
Approx Co-Ordinates: 45 06 36.85 N - 07 42 22.60 E
Ponte Ferdinando di Savoia on the Corso Guilo Cesare.
In the above Map, the Weir at the Ponte Ferdinando di Savoia and the »Mini Dealer« Parking Lot.
In the above Map the River Crossing of the Lungo Stura Lazio.
If you are down at Rebaudengo you might like to try this superb Clover-Leaf Interchange. If you are in a powerful car you can follow Via Sturo Lazio down the Riverbank (South-East) and put the car into a peg-dragging two hundred and seventy degree flat-out climbing bank which propels you out over the River and back towards Torino.
Scene: The Minis drive through a tunnel
Location: A sewer under construction near Coventry, England.
Reportedly, the Mini Coopers entered the newly constructed sewers at Stoke Aldermoor and were driven downhill to Finham Sewage Works .
The Mini Coopers, just after they have been lowered into the Sewer at the Stoke Aldermoor end of the Tunnel.
Finham Sewage Works
EXITING THE TUNNEL
Scene: The Minis exit the tunnel, pursued by the Police ((01:23:06))
Location: Corso Unione Sovietica at Mirafiori Sud
Approx Co-Ordinates: 45 00 33.27 N - 07 37 14.07 E
In the frame above, the Minis exit a culvert under the overpass of the Corso Unione Sovietica at Mirafiori Sud, Torino
In the above map, the overpass on the Corso Unione Sovietica and the path of the Mini Coopers from the exit of the Culvert to their fourth and final River Crossing.
View Larger Map
Scene: The Minis cross back over the river ((01:23:54))
Location: Just upstream of the bridge at the previous location, Corso Unione Sovietica at Mirafiori Sud
Approx Co-Ordinates: 45 00 37.73 N - 07 37 04.36 E
+ At Google Maps
In the frame above, the Minis cross the river, just upstream of the Corso Unione Sovietica overpass approximately 200 meters upstream from exit of the tunnel.
In the above map, the Corso Unione Sovietica, showing the path of the Mini Coopers from the exit of the Culvert to the shallows further up the River. Notice there are three flocks of sheep in these two scenes.
Sections of the Movie on www.youtube.com:
+ Holding up the gold wagon at www.youtube.com
+ Italian police batter open the door to the hideout
Intersection Autostrada Torino-Milano with Autostrada Torino-Aosta ((01:24;22))
Now, the SS11 and Tangenziale Nord also intersect at this point. Only the red brick buildings on the left of frame remain to identify the location.
45 08 04.76 N - 07 46 46 22 E
The cluster of buildings behind the intersection ((01:24:30)).
The Minis and the Coach head for Aosta on the Torino-Aosta. This unopened section of Autostrada Torino-Aosta was used for the scenes of the Minis boarding the Coach. ((01:24:32))
Directions: In the present day, the road section to left of frame would be the Tangenziale Nord, coming from Torino and heading toward Aosta. The Minis are joining from what is now the large complex intersection of the Torino-Milano and the SS11 at Olimpia. When constructed, as you can see, the junction was just an off-ramp from the Torino-Milano Autostrada, curving around to take up the direction of the Tangenziale Nord / Torino-Aosta Autostrada.
The scenes where the Minis board the Coach were filmed on the unopened section of Autostrada you can see the Harrington Legionnaire disappearing towards.
Panorama of the Minis and the Harrington Legionnaire forming up on the Autostrada. The camera is mounted on a tripod and pans from right to left to follow the action. When joining the frames, the particular characteristics of the lens as the action moves through its different regions, and the focus is pulled, may be observed. The full size panorama is may be viewed here.
Scene: The Dormobile speeds North to the Alps to join the Coach ((01:26:47))
Location: Torino-Aosta Autostrada, Service Station. South of Pavone Canovese and North of Romano Canovese. The Dormobile is driving North.
Approximate Co-Ordinates: 45 24 25.93N - 07 50 51.54E
This Stazione di Servizio was run by Agip but is now run by Esso.
+ At Google Maps
In the above frame, the Dormobile speeds North to re-join the Gang ((01:26:47))
View Larger Map
On the Autostrada
CLIMBING THE ALPS - VAL D'AOSTA
Grand St Bernard at St Rhemy ((01:26:54))
The Miura drove up this section of road at ((00:00:27))
Approximate Co-Ordinates: 45 50 42.94 N - 07 10 35.05 E
Grand St Bernard ((01:27:05)), next to the Maison de Refuge.
In the above photograph, the bridge over which the Coach traverses ((01:27:05)), next to the Maison de Refuge (far right of frame).
In the above photograph, looking down on the Maison de Refuge. The bridge which the coach crosses is just to the right of the small red house.
Grand St Bernard ((01:27:14)). Just before the Bridge which precedes the Maison de Refuge.
In the above panorama, the view looking back down the pass toward Italy, over the Maison de Refuge, which marks the half way point of the climb.
In the above frame ((01:27:36)) the Harrington Legionnaire begins negotiating the 'Miura Hairpin' at the start of »Sixty Seconds of Miura«, at ((00:01:01)).
In the above frame ((01:27:41), the Harrington Legionnaire completes a Majestic negotiation of the 'Miura Hairpin'.
Grand St Bernard ((01:27:41)) at 1st Hairpin
Grand St Bernard ((01:27:45)) at 1st Hairpin :Approximate Co-Ordinates: 45 51 25.05N - 07 09 17.60E
The Lamborghini Miura passes this place at ((00:00:24))
Grand St Bernard ((01:27:50)) 1st Hairpin
Grand St Bernard ((01:27:49))
Grand St Bernard ((01:28:06))
Grand St Bernard ((01:28:15)) Approx Co-Ordinates: 45 51 30.11N - 07 09 10.49 E
The curves between Prax de Arc Hairpin and Maison de Refuge
Grand St Bernard ((01:28:15))
Grand St Bernard ((01:28:15)) In the above photograph the same location
Approx Co-Ordinates: 45 51 30.11N - 07 09 10.49 E
In the above frame, between Pré St Didier and Champex on the SS26 ((01:29:14)). The Italian side of Mont Blanc rises in the background.
Scene: The gang regroup to board the Coach.
Location: Below Courmayeur just before Champex on the SS26, in the Val D'Aosta. The Italian side of Mont Blanc is visible in the background.
Approximate Co-Ordinates: 45 46 24.26N - 06 58 56.05 E
The Dormobile joins the Harrington Legionnaire at Champex ((01:29:14))
The panorama may be viewed in full here.
The Dormobile joins the Harrington Legionnaire at Champex ((01:29:14)). The route is the opposite used when the gang arrive at this junction, earlier in the movie at ((00:41:12))
In the above map, you can see the path of the Dormobile as it descends from the hairpin, down the to he junction with the Superstrada SS26 to meet the waiting Harrington Legionnaire. The Coach then heads onto the SS26 and up in the direction of Courmayeur. The arrival of the gang at this location can be viewed [here] .
In the above photograph, the location in its post-2006 damage due to the construction of the Autostrada , which you can see flowing by immediately behind it. Another one hundred meters further and the location would have been untouched.
Scene: The Coach hangs over the edge of the cliff (01:30:36)
Location: Col di Nivolet , near Ivrea , Piedmont, North West Italy.
Approx Co-Ordinates: 45 28 35.48 N 7 08 32.03 E
Directions: Head for Ivrea on the Autostrada A5, then head up Courgnè on Superstrada 565. In Courgnè pick up Route 460 but be careful because you need Route 460 in the direction West toward Locana and (Lake) Ceresole Real , not Superstrada 460 going South to Torino. Once you are out of Courgnè in the correct direction you are heading up the valley of Locana on the River Orco and navigational difficulties are over. You pass Lake Ceresole and head on up the valley until you reach the barrier and have to park the car. Progress from here is on foot which requires plenty of drinking water in summer and skis or snow shoes in winter. Your objective is still several hours climb away. The barrier marks the border of the Gran Paradiso National Park.
Note that this is a long journey over roads which become increasingly narrow and culminates with a lengthy ascent on foot. In a Mini Cooper, this road presents no obstacles but taking the Harrington Legionnaire up this road must have been a bit of a squeeze at a few points. Some years back in the late Nineties there had been a huge flood down the valley from Lake Ceresole and the water had washed away parts of the road. At one point, there was so little road remaining that it was too narrow to traverse and you had to duck the car through some one's yard and back on to the road further up.
The first half of »Escape over the Alps« series of scenes up to the re-assembly were filmed on the Grand St Bernard, the second half was filmed on the approach to the Col di Nivolet. Second Unit Director the late Philip Wrestler had wanted to use the location below Cognes for the Cliffhanger ending, but Peter Collinson told him that he wanted to use it for the Mafia Welcome. It is pleasing that he did because Phillip Wrestler went hunting for replacement locations in a light aircraft, which is the only way to cover distance in the Alps with any speed. During his flight Phillip Wrestler discovered the Col di Nivolet and the rest is Cinematic history.
The Col di Nivolet is remote even by Alpine standards. The actual road bed was constructed to allow the construction of high voltage electricity cables across the Alps. This is the same line you see in the background during the Mafia Welcome. Two Dams had already been built below the Col and a road pushed up from the valley to facilitate this. There was a track up the valley as there is in all Alpine valleys but below the dam it narrowed to a mule track, which is mid way between a narrow farm track and a footpath. It is only wide enough to admit a loaded mule. These kind of tracks could only be traversed by specialist Alpine agricultural machinery like the Haflinger and the Kettenkrad. You can see in nearly all the photographs of the Col di Nivolet region tracks on the surrounding mountainsides and these are mule tracks which were used from the dawn of the Agricultural age through to the advent of rail tunnels being blasted through the mountains. This was the only way to shift goods and passengers over the Alps. Victorian visitors to Zermatt had to travel up from the valley by mule until the Cog Railway was built late in the 19th Century. The Mule Tracks are deserted now, ghostly remnants, but offer superb high-speed going to the foot traveler, even in winter. Travel on skis both up and down is rapid, but descending narrow tracks on skis is only for the brave and experienced.
When you stand on the Col and look to the west, that north-south massif which is visible is the back of the massif on which you ski when you are at Val d'Isere . The Col D'Iseran is on the other side of this Massif.
Overview of the route from Courgnè to Ceresole Real and thence to the Col di Nivolet. Navigation is easy.
+ Cold di Nivolet at Google Maps
After you reach Lake Ceresole the valley climbs gently until you reach the Vehicle Barrier which closes the road for the Winter. Beyond this the road starts to switchback in order to climb more steeply up the grade to the first Dam.
In the above photograph, the First Dam glowers with menace down on approaching travelers. The mountains of the Gran Paradiso loom in the background. The Col di Nivolet is way over to your right and Lake Ceresole is behind you.
Looking up toward the Col (out of frame right) from below the dams.
In the above photograph, you are looking back down the valley toward Ceresole from just below the First Dam. The road is on the right hand side of frame. The left hand side of frame are mule tracks.
In the above Photograph, the Lago Agnel the road across the Second Dam. The Col di Nivolet is out of frame to the right. Camera is on one of the upper hairpins on the knoll.
Lago Agnel and the second dam from the switchbacks. The Gran Paradiso rises in the misty background. If you could cross at this point you would reach Val D'Isere.
Col di Nivolet, Lago Agnel ((01:29:30)) The Coach is on one of the set of Hairpins below the final approach to the Col. Second Dam on Lago Agnel is visible far upper left of Frame.
"++ +++ ++++ Brid-ger !"
Harrington Hairpin below the Col di Nivolet ((01:29:44))
Col di Nivolet ((01:29:51)) This frame was shot Harrington Hairpin, the last of the three switchbacks below the final approach to the cliffhanger ending, the cliffhanger being just above, on the mountainside, to the upper left of frame.
The Coach descending Harrington Hairpin on the lowermost Switchback on the grade up to the Col di Nivolet.
In the above frames, the Harrington Legionnaire having descended Harrington Hairpin.
In the above frames, the Coach descends Harrington Hairpin.
In the above Photographs, the position of Harrington Hairpin in relation to the Cliffhanger Location. The two small Red Triangles mark the stone wall embankment which consolidates runoff being washed down the mountainside.
Grand St Bernard ((01:29:59))
Col di Nivolet, Lago Agnel ((01:30:07)) Approx Co-Ordinates: 45 28 23.78N - 07 08 55.83 E
Grand St Bernard ((01:30:15))
Grand St Bernard ((01:30:16))
Col di Nivolet ((01:30:23))
Col di Nivolet, Lago Agnel ((01:30:25))
Col di Nivolet ((01:30:27))
Col di Nivolet ((01:30:33)) In the above frame, the Coach is just about to skid off the road.
In the above panorama, left to right: The valley down to Lake Ceresole, the road up to the First Dam, the Second Dame and Lago Agnel, the Col di Nivolet Massif with the Cliffhanger location and the Hairpins on the ascent to the Col. This photograph is taken from the top of a rise where the road levels for a short distance before making its way toward the foot of the hairpins, frame right.
The same Panorama as above, annotated.
The Cliffhanger location from the road between the knoll and the hairpins.
In the above Photograph, the Camera is actually on the road which leads from the First Lake to Lago Agnel. The Second Dam which produces Lago Agnel is hidden behind the rock outcrop mid right for frame. The Switchbacks on which the scenes of the escaping coach are filmed are directly ahead. The location of the camera which took the panorama above is on the upper most right hand switchback. In the panorama you look at a steep angle down on the foot of the First Dam, which is where the first photograph in these paragraphs was taken, looking down at a steep angle to Lake Ceresole and up at a steep angle to the First Dam.
In the above photograph, two of the switchbacks on the Knoll used as Locations. The camera is mounted on the Cliffhanger.
Scene: The Coach hangs over the edge of the cliff (01:30:36)
Location: Col di Nivolet , near Ivrea , Piedmont, North West Italy.
Approx Co-Ordinates: 45 28 35.48 N 7 08 32.03 E
In the frame above, the two lakes, formed by dams, can be seen below the location of the coach. The road winding downwards on the left of frame proceeds to away from us past the first dam, around to the second dam, and then down to the valley, left, and down again to Ceresole. The mule tracks are remnant of Alpine commerce before railways were built through the Alps. Goods were transported across the Alps via mules and the region is littered with old mule tracks which make excellent walking and ski-touring routes.
In the frame above, you can see the concrete road barriers removed to allow the coach to hang over the edge. These are still where the crew left them up until the mid Nineties. Toward the end of the 2000s, the gap was filled by the red and white plastic sand filled road barriers. As of 2009 these have been replaced with the original type of concrete barriers you can see in the frame). The road was constructed to this wild and remote place to allow the building of a trans-Alpine electrical power transmission line.
In the frame above, you can see the stretch of road cut into the rock which leads to the coach. In winter this fills with snow and the road disappears. The mountainside becomes a steeply angled snowbank. You can traverse the route of the road by carefully digging into the snow to prevent yourself sliding off down the mountainside. Better still is to reverse back up to the corner, below the bottom of frame, move to right of frame until you pick up the mule track and then ascend via the mule track. This will place you on top of the boss of rock to right of frame and you may move around the back of it to approach the front of the coach. This route is safer.
The photograph above was taken from the position of the coach. In summer, you can see the level of the lake is lower and snow cover is minimal.
In the above photograph, you are look at the location where the coach was positioned as if you have just completed the ascent from Ceresole. The rear of the coach, hanging in mid-air would be to the left of frame, and the front of the coach to right of frame.
In the above photograph, you are looking down at where the coach would have been positioned on the roadway.
In the above Photographs, the crew ready the coach to shoot the Cliffhanger ending.
In the above frames, the cliffhanger ending.
In the above 360 degree panorama, the Col del Nivolet taken from the position occupied by the coach.
The Col di Nivolet showing the position the coach would have hung from.
In the above frames, the sides and rear of the Harrington Legionaire coach display the "Charlie Croker Tours" moniker. On both sides and at the rear, the words MIDDLESEX ENGLAND appear below
In the above frames the license plate of the Harrington Legionaire, which is ALR 453 B. At the rear the words MIDDLESEX ENGLAND appear below it.
Note that the crew have changed the route indicator on the Harrington Legionnaire: During the arrival at Pre St Didier it reads "London - Turin" and during the escape over the Grand St Bernard pass it reads "Turin - London".
Michael Caine takes a rest on the footplate of the Harrington Legionnaire ALR 453 B during the filming of the dispersal. Note that there are some seats visible behind the curtain on this coach, whereas in the scene where the Minis enter the coach on the Autostrada, the interior is bare.
The above topographic map shows the Col di Nivolet in relation to the lakes
Route Planning from the Autostrada at Ivrea to Courgnè
Overview of the route from Courgnè to Ceresole Real and thence to the Col di Nivolet. No navigation is required as there is only one road.
+ Col di Nivolet at Google Maps
Above graph shows the altitude gain when climbing from Locana to the Col di Nivolet.
IGC 1:50,000 topographic map of the Gran Paradiso showing filmlocations.
IGC Gran Paradiso 1:50,000 topographic of Valle di Locana at higher resolution
IGC 1:50,000 topographic map of the Gran Paradiso. Aosta is at the mid top of the map, Val d'Isere bottom left.
This location is remote and was selected by Second Unit director Phillip Wrestler using a light aircraft to scout the terrain. In the background of the frame of the cliff-hanger scene you can see two small lakes in the distance. As you ascend the track to the dam which forms the first lake, you can see the section of the mountain road used in the location in the far distance over to your right and you are still quite a few hours distant from it. The castellation of the concrete and stone barrier at the road's edge are visible against the skyline. The moment I saw this castellation, I knew instinctively that this was the location.
After you reach the first lake the road turns to the right and skirts the shore of the second lake. Once past the second lake you start to ascend through a series of switch-backs. Some of the footage of the coach in the run-up to the cliff-hanger was shot here. Keep following the road until you reach the tight corner at the top of the mountain. The upper section of the approach to this corner, is dangerous during deep snow as the entire road is filled with snow and it is easy to slip off the surface and over the edge of the cliff.
At 01:34:48 as the camera is pulled away in the closing shot from the helicopter, you can see a large flat slab set in to the rock on the side of the road against the mountain. This commemorates the construction of the road. Just below this to the left, obscured by the barrier, is a small shrine to the Madonna. At the time of filming, the road was surfaced by hard core gravel but has recently been asphalted.
The sections of concrete curtain which line the outer edge of the road had to be pushed off in order to rig the coach in its balanced position and these remain just below the road surface where they fell (as of 2002). You can jump down from the road onto the mountainside and walk around for a short distance under the place where the coach would have been but shortly after this the mountainside drops away vertically.
At 01:35:02 you can see the road over which you have to ascend from the two lakes. To the right, climbing higher than the road, is one of the old mule tracks which traversed the Alps and carried goods before the railways and tunnels were cut through the mountains.
The Harrington Legionnaire coach which was used in the film was returned to service after filming and was used until the Eighties when, sadly, it was scrapped. It appears that some one has retained the back axle from the Coach.
The first scenes of the coach escaping through the Alps were filmed on the Italian side of the Grand St Bernard in the same area which the Lamborghini drove up during the opening scenes of the movie. The later scenes of the coach making its escape to general merriment of the crew were filmed mainly on the Col di Nivolet. The camera shots next to the wheel of the Coach were filmed on the Grand St Bernard. The two locations are intermingled by the editor.
If you have original photographs of cast and crew or location photographs and wish to send them to me for inclusion on the website then please email them to me.
+ SEE ALSO
+ Rendezvous - Through Paris in the early morning in a Ferrari
+ Grand Touring in the Alps
+ Paris to the French Riviera racing the Train Bleu and the TGV
+ Routes across France in the 1980s for English Drivers
+ Pre-Autoroute Routes across France for English Drivers
+ EXTERNAL LINKS
+ Sir Michael Caine reveals the original alternative ending to the Film, which would have produced a sequel
+ Sir Michael Caine's Website http://www.michaelcaine.com
+ Harrington Legionnaire at the ICMDB
+ The Script of The Italian Job
+ The Italian Job Minis - Original research into the Minis used in the film and into the drivers who drove them.
+ Lyricist Don Black, who wrote the Lyrics http://www.donblack.co.uk
+ The Italian Job at the Internet Movie Car DataBase
+ Lamborghini Register
- http://www.themiuraregister.com/ - The Lamborghini Miura Register
+ Memoirs of the the making of The Italian Job
+ Michael Deeley's interview for BAFTA concerning the publication of his memoirs. It was film magazine Cinema Retro contributing editor and author of the book The Making of the Italian Job Matthew Field, who persuaded Michael Deeley to write his memoirs.
+ Classic and Sports Car magazine have an article on the Lamborghini Miura used in the filming of The Italian Job, in their September 2009 issue.
- Mk1 Performance - Mini Cooper S performance tuning and competition history
- Artist Richard Wilson has installed an art work paying tribute to the final scene in The Italian Job (1969)
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