‘The Italian Job’ (1969)
In 1969’s The Italian Job, the dream team of Michael Caine, Noel Coward and Benny Hill team up to steal $4 million worth of gold, angering the Italian mob and authorities alike as they make off like bandits after some great car chase scenes. In a complete last-second twist, the bus they use to camouflage their escape skids off a mountain road, and teeters off a cliff. Efforts to reach the loot fail as Caine slowly crawls for the gold, helpless as it slides away. Thinking for a moment, Caine declares, “Lads, I have a great idea,” but whatever this plan was, the idea is never revealed. Instead the film ends.
Obviously, the idea was to film a sequel. Director Peter Collinson had ideas on how to rescue the crew and run afoul of the French Mafia. So, why didn’t it happen? Two words: Michael Caine. He refused to do publicity for the film in the United States because the American poster featured a naked woman beside a gun-toting gangster. Feeling the marketing turned off any potential audience (clearly, he doesn’t understand Americans), Caine declined to help the film and helped to sink it Stateside. When it failed to make bank in America, future plans were scuttled and it was all left to oblivion.
Oddly enough, neither the poster nor the plot to Jaws: The Revenge gave Caine any pause. Even odder, The Royal Society of Chemistry would later put out a call, seeking answers as to how the crew might have escaped with the gold intact. Ah, science.