VIDcast 06: 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 FINAL STUNT - DRIVING ONTO THE COACH:
According to Remy …’Getting your wheels in line’ was not the biggest problem with this stunt; trying to ensure you stopped once inside the coach was the ‘trick’ to master. This coupled with the fact that as the Harrington coach filled with each Cooper, the physical distance that remained from the ramps to the back of the preceding Cooper became ever smaller. This meant that the driver of the Island Blue Cooper LGW809G had the least amount of distance to brake and come to a stop without coming into contact with the white Cooper GPF146G already ‘parked’ safely in the coach. As always Remy has calculated the dynamics of this stunt and concluded that the coach needed to travel at 50mph whilst the Coopers needed to travel at 75mph. The 25mph differential allowed the Coopers to catch the coach up and have enough ‘extra pace’ to negotiate the ramps into the Harrington coach. This still meant that the Coopers were still going at a pace into the coach. Remy recalls that there were concerns about missing the ramps or having the tyres damaged by the high sides ramps (although these were needed to ensure safe egress into the back of the coach and avoid the Coopers coming off as they climbed the ramps. Remy recalls that he was insistent that the stunt could be carried out and was about to walk out on the film. But calmly as ever he carried out ‘test stunts’ to show the production crew that it was all possible, which he did without any problems. In the final cut you see the red Cooper HMP729G enter the coach and drive towards the front on the coach. This was carefully edited to appear as though the Cooper had easily slowed and stopped with ease at its required position at the front of the coach. In reality Remy smiles and notes that the overall impact of the Coopers entering the coach actually moved a steel beam (positioned to ensure the coach driver was not injured) forward some 3 inches!
The other concern was how could the rear doors be opened and ramps attached whilst the coach was in motion. This eventually meant that the only person brave enough to attempt this was Peter Collinson and another member of the crew, dressed up in ‘boiler suits used by the gang’. ‘This was not liked much by Micheal Deeley as he thought it was a huge risk to take at that point in the filming’, states Remy, ‘Michael was furious at Peter for hanging out of the coach as it could have been a disaster if he’d been injured’.
The Coopers had to be driven at a speed just above that of the coach, to ensure they could get up the ramps. However, once they had got the Coopers onto the ramps they were essentially now accelerating into the back of the Harrington Coach. Remy noted that there wasn’t much breaking distance once you cleared the ramps. This quick change of speed can be carefully seen in this last sequence of the chase. When the red Mini Cooper, HMP729G, steadily rolls towards the camera set up to the side of the driver and looking down the coach, this speed is considerably slower than its ‘entry’ speed up the ramps.