Starring: Vittorio Gassman, Marcello Mastroianni, Renato Salvatori
Director: Mario Monicelli
Running Time: 106 mins
Big Deal On Madonna Street (I soliti ignoti) is an Italian film about a group of incompetent criminals who bumble their way through the robbery of the safe in a local pawnshop, always seconds away from something sending the whole plan into disarray.
I really enjoyed this film. It’s a fantastically funny comedy with a brilliant sense of humour and an excellent cast that all bring a great range of humour to the table. As well as simple slapstick, the lovable buffoons that try to carry out this robbery make this such an entertaining watch, and with its rather fast-paced story, it’s a consistently engaging and enjoyable film from start to finish.
First of all, it’s best that I explain what sort of a comedy this film is. Simply put, it’s an out-and-out laughter fest, fully intended to make you chuckle and smile throughout. But that doesn’t mean that it’s all just stupid slapstick from start to finish, and although some of the sillier gags make for some great laughs, it’s actually the characters that drive the best of the comedy here.
Centring on a group of about four or five men who are cobbled together when one hears of the opportunity to stage this robbery, the lead characters here are absolutely hilarious. In similar fashion to films like The Italian Job, you’ve got a range of personalities and criminal competencies in the group, but the combination of all of them makes for absolute chaos, and seemingly very little chance that they can ever get away with the crime.
What’s more is that all of the performances here are absolutely fantastic, and go even further to making the individual characters stand out just as well as being a part of the motley crew. Vittorio Gassman, Marcello Mastroianni, Renato Salvatori and Tiberio Murgia are the best of the best here, with a range of fun-loving performances that all interact perfectly with one another, making the team element as entertaining as possible, all the while making each member’s various mishaps all the funnier.
But even alongside the lead crew, supporting performances from the likes of Memmo Carotenuto and Carla Gravina add even more to the movie, representing the more intelligent and more competent inhabitants of the town that give the crew an even harder time than at first.
The great thing about the characters here, however, is that they’re all really likable. Criminals they may be, but you can’t help but have a soft spot for each and every one of them, given how buffoonish they are from start to finish, but also because you get to see the softer side of them all at some point or other, an addition that I felt really helped to make the movie even more enjoyable.
Overall, I loved Big Deal On Madonna Street. It’s a really funny, consistently entertaining and even engaging crime comedy, full of hilarious characters and fantastic performances that all brilliantly together on screen, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.8.