VIDcast 05: The 40th Anniversary of The Italian Job film !From David Mortons Interview with Remy Julienne, for Mini Magazine 2009
(As part of the Official 40th Anniversary of the Iconic 1969 film)
THE CROSSING THE RIVER STUNT:
As many mini owners will know, our favourite little car is not fond of water at the best of times, and the thought of driving it through anything more than a deepish puddle is strewn with ideas of breakdowns, bonnets up and a frantic session of drying various components, interspersed with jumping back into the driver’s seat to turn the key in the hope that it’ll start. So the vision of three MK1 Mini Coopers swishing through a weir almost axle deep in water is enough to give you a cold sweat.
The stunt in question occurs in the get away sequence of the film, as our heroes are fleeing the police who are hot on their tails. The predicament for Remy’s team here was two fold; firstly to ensure that the Coopers could mechanically make the run across the weir and, secondly how would the Coopers react to the quite sizeable sideways thrust of the water. From a physics angle, it would be entirely possible to add enough weight to the Minis to give them additional resistance to the sideways loading created by the water passing down the weir at a considerable rate. This would have to be balanced so that the Minis were not overloaded to the point that this would impede their progress across the weir. As far as the plot goes, the ‘gold’ in the Coopers’ boots would have assisted in this physics conundrum by adding to their fly weight totals. However, it should be pointed out that as gold is weighed in Troy ounces and knowing how much gold Charlie’s gang helped themselves to, some £3M dollars, the ‘actual’ weight of this sum could not physically be ‘loaded’ into three Mk1 Mini Cooper boots. Not only would the boot boards have caved in, but the amount of gold in terms of volume would have required Charlie’s gang to fill the back seat area of each Cooper with the bullion…..and some. But being a fan of the film I feel I should stop there so as not to ruin the whole idea behind this cool caper.
Getting back to the Coopers and their progress across the weir, Po and River Stura Di Lanzo if you look at the film closely you can see how they over came the problem, which is confirmed by Remy with a smile. He chose to use the option of speed across the flow of the water to ensure a straight course was plotted and achieved by the drivers. You’ll also notice that the main shots across the weir use the Coopers travelling across water that’s only as deep as the cill height at it’s maximum.