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Tuesday December 18th 2018

The Italian Job | 1969

The Italian Job location: Denbigh Close, Notting Hill, London SW11
The Italian Job location: Charlie Croker’s Swinging London pad: Denbigh Close, Notting Hill, London SW11

The exterior shots of the prison from which Charlie Croker (Michael Caine) is released are London's famous Wormwood Scrubs prison, Ducane Road, north of Shepherd’s Bush in west London.

Probably the most recognisable of the capital’s correctional facilities, the Scrubs is seen in countless films, including Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy. In a typically quirky reverse of the way its usually featured on-screen, David Warner escapes into the prison in Karel Reisz’s Sixties classic Morgan – A Suitable Case for Treatment.

The prison’s interior, though, where Mr Bridger (Noël Coward) masterminds the daring heist, is Kilmainham Jail, Inchicore Road, Dublin. Many Irish revolutionaries, including the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, were imprisoned – and executed – in the prison by the British. Now disused, Kilmainham now houses a museum on the history of Irish nationalism. Prison scenes for In the Name of the Father, with Daniel Day-Lewis , historical drama Michael Collins and Ken Loach's The Wind That Shakes The Barley were also shot here.

The Italian Job location: The Royal Lancaster Hotel, Bayswater
The Italian Job location: Charlie Croker’s coming-out party: The Royal Lancaster Hotel, Bayswater

The coming out do for Charlie Croker (Michael Caine), where he’s presented with a bevy of dolly birds, is at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, Lancaster Terrace, Bayswater.

His oh-so-sixties bric-a-brac cluttered flat is 18 Denbigh Close, off the north end of Portobello Road, W11, next to Alice’s junk shop, in Notting Hill (tube: Notting Hill Gate: District, Circle and Central Lines). You can see Alice's as ‘Gruber's Antique Shop' in2014 comedy Paddington.

The job is organised in the luxurious highrise of Peninsula Heights (formerly Alembic House), Albert Embankment, across the River Thames from Tate Britain and just north of MI6 HQ Vauxhall Cross (familiar from recent Bond movies). Peninsula Heights is also seen in the splendid 1973 Vincent Price horror comedy Theatre of Blood, as well as Sweeney! and A Touch Of Class.

Once the plan is in motion, it's an oddly public place that Charlie and Arthur choose to test explosives.

The Italian Job location: Crystal Palace Park, London
The Italian Job location: “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!”: Canada Gates, Crystal Palace Park, London

They watch from the foot of the enormous television transmitter mast at Crystal Palace Park as the white van, parked on a small green patch by the park's Canada Gates entrance, is blown to smithereens, and "You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!" enters the lexicon of classic movie quotes.

The park is alongside Crystal Palace Railway Station (rail: London Victoria), and is named after the old Crystal Palace – the giant glass exhibition hall built for the Great Exhibition of 1851 and moved here from its original site in Hyde Park. The Palace was destroyed by fire in 1936 but, if you’re visiting, don’t miss the park’s extraordinary Victorian concrete dinosaurs.

The robbery itself takes place in the Italian city of Turin during a massive traffic jam. The jam starts by the Palazzo Madama on Piazza Castello. Unlike BMC, manufacturers of the Mini, who offered minimal co-operation, Fiat offered limitless help.

The rooftop leap, in fact, was filmed on the roof of the Fiat factory, dressed to look like a Turin street.

The chase through the sewer was staged in England. Although the entrance and exit were filmed in Turin, the length of sewer used was a new pipe system being installed in Coventry in the West Midlands.

The famous ending, dreamed up by a Paramount executive in Hollywood, hated by director Peter Collinson and star Caine, and assigned to a Second Unit, was filmed above a reservoir at Ceresole Reale, about 40 miles northwest of Turin.