Book Review: The Self Preservation Society – 50 Years of The Italian Job By Matthew Field


Part of the reason that ‘The Italian Job’ is regarded so highly as a cult movie classic lies in the fact that it was a typical, small budget, British production that almost did not make it to the big screen in 1969. 

That it was not a roaring box office success upon release is astonishing enough, although it is also the key reason for the sequel not being produced soon afterwards. Yet, it was a romp. It was fun. It was glamorous and yet as ‘kitchen sink’ as any of the best British dramas of the 1960s, of which there were many. 

To author, Matthew Field, this weighty 333pp hardback is his life’s work, commencing when he was a student and fan of the film. He is renowned for his behind-the-scenes books, even producing and directing a feature-length documentary about the film, among many other successful titles that he has authored. 

Of course, a US-funded remake of the original, with a somewhat larger budget and Mark Wahlberg as its central star (in the Michael Caine role) has been produced but with zero detriment to the much-loved original.

If you want to know all of the glorious and gory details of how the film was made and many of the people whom worked upon and starred in it, then this 50th Anniversary book is not going to reside on your coffee table for too long. 

Trust me, it is packed with details and innumerable photographs and memories that have never been aired before. The first draft screenplay, written by Troy Kennedy Martin, and completed on 24th February 1967, is carried in original detail, as are the relevant biographies of each cast member and the discarded scenes from the cutting room floor. 

Printed and published by Porter Press International, which is an assurance of exceptional high quality, it is not just the definitive record of a movie that has come to signify all that was worth celebrating about ‘Cool Britannia’, but also one of the best loved car movies of all time.