I Soliti Ignoti (Big Deal on Madonna Street) (The Usual Unidentified Thieves) (1960)
Director Mario Monicelli delivers this deft satire of the classic caper film Rififi, introducing a bungling group of amateurs -- including an ex-jockey (Carlo Pisacane), a former boxer (Vittorio Gassman) and an out-of-work photographer (Marcello Mastroianni). The crew plans a seemingly simple heist with a retired burglar (Totů), who serves as a consultant. But this Italian job is doomed from the start.
Related News & Features
Five Favorite Films with Whit Stillman
– Rotten Tomatoes
No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.Login
Critic Reviews for I Soliti Ignoti (Big Deal on Madonna Street) (The Usual Unidentified Thieves)
Monicelli's seminal Italian comedy, a spoof of heist movies with great performances by Gassman, Mastroianni, Toto, and Cardinale, had major impact on many American satires, past and present.
The only really outstanding element is Piero Umiliani's cool jazz score.
A devilish black comedy about an inept gang of thieves in Rome that turned out to be a big influence in spoof heist films.
...because the characters are so likable and their plan for breaking into the safe is genuinely interesting, it's easy enough to overlook the few dull spots.
a non-too-subtle satire on ... the crime genre, with especially good pokes at Jules Dassin's heist masterpiece Rififi
Audience Reviews for I Soliti Ignoti (Big Deal on Madonna Street) (The Usual Unidentified Thieves)
This was far from what I expected from reading the reviews. This Movie is from the Criterion Collection Spine Number 113. This movie made in 1958 in Black & White reminds me of movies made in the thirties. Yes a comedy but of little interest and very boring at times. A disappointment to me as most Criterion Collection Movies are pretty good. Still for time frame and reading the very fast English Subtitles I will push it to 4 Stars.More
Excellent caper movie all'italiana. Superb all-star cast, full of situations as absurd as hilarious, and the usual caustic view upon italian society and traditions.More
"Big Deal on Madonna Street" is a light comedy about an elaborate but shaky scheme to rob a pawnshop safe. The plan is flawed from the start because the safe's contents aren't even known. None of these small-time crooks (including Marcello Mastrioanni) are as sharp as they ought to be, and blossoming romances threaten to distract two of them (when the spectacular Claudia Cardinale is involved, that's inevitable).
The film starts slow and its first half could be trimmed -- a long sequence about finding a stooge to serve a jail sentence really doesn't add much to the central story.
Terrific Italian comedy, supposedly a parody of the French film Rififi, revolves around a group of small time criminals who decide to commit a big nighttime heist. They do their prep work, but anything that can go wrong, does go wrong. Very entertaining, and very funny at times. I was struck by how the characters and situations could easily fit into a contemporary film, only to discover that this film has been remade twice for American audiences.
I only had two complaints:
1) The squandered opportunity with the main antagonist, the jailed criminal who sets the plot in motion (I can't provide details that aren't spoilery)
2) The criterion dvd has subtitles that occasionally literally flash onscreen and are gone, and I found myself having to rewind and pause several times to get all the dialogue.
Do yourself a favor and watch Rififi and Big Deal on Madonna Street for a great double feature. Both are great films and really only share the plot device of a big heist, otherwise, they are very different but complimentary movies.
I Soliti Ignoti (Big Deal on Madonna Street) (The Usual Unidentified Thieves) Quotes
Discuss I Soliti Ignoti (Big Deal on Madonna Street) (The Usual Unidentified Thieves) on our Movie forum!