The 1969 comedy caper, The Italian Job, has gone down in cinematic history as one of the most beloved British films of the decade, but let’s be honest, anyone who sits down to watch it has ended up scratching their heads at the action movie‘s cliff-hanger ending at some point in their lives.
Directed by Peter Collinson, The Italian Job tells the story of an elaborate heist. At the end of the flick, we see the thieves manage to grab their stash but then get stuck in a situation that could potentially lose all their hard work. Basically, their bus full of stolen gold bullions ends up hanging on the edge of a cliff. Michael Caine, who plays the character and head heister Charlie Croker in the movie, exclaims: “Hang on a minute, lads – I’ve got a great idea.” Then the film ends, giving us no indication about what the said idea was, or if it worked.
So, 40 years since the film first released, the Royal Society of Chemistry set out to give all of us an answer. According to The Telegraph, the institution “asked people to work out a method to extract the gold within 30 minutes without using a helicopter, and prove it with maths.” And John Godwin, an IT manager from Godalming in Surrey, cracked the case.
Godwin successfully worked out how to extricate the gold without toppling the 1964 Bedford VAL14 coach off the cliff and subsequently the thieving gang inside it. Apparently, “four windows should be smashed: two large central windows just ‘air-side’ of the pivot should be knocked outwards; then two smaller windows above the twin front axles, inwards.”
“Then a man should be lowered through the smaller windows to let down the four inflated front tyres,” which would lessen the rocking motion of the vehicle. And finally, the near-full fuel tank should be emptied” as this would enable one of the men to get off the van and gather rocks to weigh the vehicle down.
To make sure his calculations and scenario were doable, Goodwin tracked down a VAL14s bus and confirmed that the fuel tank was located at the rear. He then went on to suggest that Caine’s Croker could have emptied the fuel tank by removing an access plank on the bus floor.
Dr Richard Pike, chief executive of the RSC, said that he was “extremely impressed” by the competition’s winner, and Goodwin was awarded a three-night stay in Turin – on holiday, not on a ‘job’ unlike good old Croker, eh?