back to article Royal Society of Chemistry requests 'Italian Job' ending

Science just has a way of trampling over the unexplained, whether this is welcomed or not. That even goes for the classic cliffhanger ending of the 1969 Michael Caine flick The Italian Job. The gang's six-wheeled coach teeters halfway over an Alpine cliff. The stolen gold slides towards the rear door and oblivion. Charlie …


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  1. Neoc

    Difficulties not enough:

    Contestants should be made to assume that only items shown in the movie, or which can be reliably assume to exist in the butchered bus, can be used.

    Otherwise, you could have them drive steel harpoons into the road with a pneumatic drill and anchor the bus with mono-filament wires.

  2. tony trolle

    Royal Society of Chemistry WTF

    not the physics boff's then . I would assume a backpack and rope would be my workable plan not too sure about any chemistry angle.

  3. Nick Askew

    just at that moment...

    A builders van laden with bricks arrives. The gang tell the two brickies that for a share in the gold they should load up the front of the bus with bricks. The gang then transfer the gold to the van and hot foot it away but not before pushing the bus off the cliff 29 or so minutes later.

    Of course the moto of the film being that crime does not actually pay they convert the lot to stocks and lose it the next time some banker sneezes.

  4. Michael
    Thumb Down


    The RSC? Haven't they got anything better to waste money on?

  5. Charles Calthrop

    Thought I remembered this?

    There was going to be a sequel and it started like this: They leave the engine on, the engine uses petrol, the petrol runs out, the back of the van is lightenened enough to send one man down and get the gold. The reason it was never made was that the film didn't do well enough in America.

    That's what it said on the DVD of the Italian Job I had.

  6. Tim Russell

    Blow the bloody doors off...

    ...or not ?

  7. Steve Evans


    I could see the Royal Society of Physics (if it exists), coming up with this, but would have thought the Royal Society of Chemistry would rather play with with a more chemically interesting metal... It's not like Gold actually does much, or reacts with much.

    Now if it was a load of sodium, I could see the Chemists rubbing their rubber gloves together at the idea of playing with that (whilst donning safety goggles).

  8. lansalot


    Everyone rushes to the front of the bus, and one by one they climb out the front door, staying on the vehicle, and hanging off the front bumper. All but the lightest one - he slithers along the floor throwing the bars back the way. Job done.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    All you have is...

    ... a hydrogen bomb, an armada of spacefaring DC-8's, an E-meter, and a carefully guarded secret knowledge of a vast psychiatric conspiracy.

    Oh... They want a scientIFIC solution?

  10. Naich


    "Science just has a way of trampling over the unexplained" - yeah, that's sort of the whole point of science. Otherwise it would be no better than a collection of people sitting round going "dunno, god probably did it".

  11. Anonymous Coward

    I vote for

    I vote for having some crooks come along and steal the gold, followed by the minibus falling off the 'cliff' and being submerged in icy water, with (most of) the occupants using their diving gear to survive.

    Wait... I've seen that one!

    One of VERY few films where the yank remake was actually better than the original!

  12. QuietLeni

    Erm, what is the problem, again?

    I think that there's been a lost negative somewhere in:

    Contestants must assume that 30 minutes after Croker's last line, the bus will topple down the mountain. A 150-word minimum explanation, calculations, and a diagram must be included.

    I can write a very easy explanation - they all get out of the bus and the gold sends the bus down the mountain, then they go down the mountain and pick it up again. The hard one would be recover the gold without the toppling, surely?

  13. Chris

    Tsk tsk

    Presumably next the Royal Society of Biologists will want an ending to John Carpenter's The Thing.

  14. Paul Murphy
    Black Helicopters

    Two thoughts:

    If the people who were at the end of the coach had picked up a bar each and taken it with them to the 'safe' end then the CoG would be in their favour.

    Similarly if they had formed a line of people to pass the gold from the door end to the 'safe' end, same result.

    The next step would be to get people (one at a time) to leave the coach and stand on the front bumper, so changing the CoG and allowing the last person/people to hopefully secure/move the gold.

    Or they could all leave the coach and then go on a scavenger hunt after it's done it's falling down the cliff/ mountain stuff.


    a helicopter would be useful though

  15. Mike

    Royal School of Chemistry?

    Surely this is a physics problem?

    Other than getting back some of their more precious chemical element (which if Caine and Co could do, they wouldn't see any of it anyway), what interest do the RSC have in this?

    Need a "Where's the Chemistry Angle?" icon now. Bugger. Oh well plan B

    Mine's the lab coat

  16. Pat


    Here's a still:

    They should all take their keks off, tie them together to make a lasoo and start hoiking piles of gold back to the land side end. The balance would shift and they could start climbing out the front doors, taking most of the gold with them. That stack weighs MUCH more than the people put together.

  17. Pete

    Argh! Spoilsports!

    Now I know how it ends there's just NO point watching it!

    *Sigh* Mine's the one with the heavily stuffed pockets hanging to the knees.

  18. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    Come together "Team Horse".

    Love it. Love the movie. I'm in.

    And just to let you wannabee Brunel types what you are up against my plan involves using a derivative of the engine implemented by Diades of Pella (Mr.) at Tyre, 7000 kerats of Thailands finest hemp yarn and an ineffible ability to look on the bright side.

    See you in Turin - I'll be the one in the armour plated Land Rover.

  19. Christian Cook

    To make the coach lighter...

    Couldn't they just blow the bloody doors off?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Everyone jumps off the bus, watch it fall to the bottom of the mountain. Get another bus, go and get the gold. That's how any half descent engineer would do it.

  21. Andy

    Just saving the gold? Too easy.

    Charlie jumps out. The coach crashes to it's doom, killing everyone in it. Then Charlie comes back with salvage equipment.


  22. Anonymous Coward

    Rusty Shackleford says'

    OK how about this?

    1/ all the people go to the extreme front of the coach (and stay still) - counterbalancing it.

    2/ They make a rope of belts ties clothes etc

    3/ The lightest one slithers forward (alone) and attached the rope to the gold.

    4/ The people pull the gold back to the front.

    5/ One person (fully clothed) goes to find a farmer with a tractor to pull the coach back.

    6/ Resume journey.

    Plan B

    Let the gold fall out.

    Rush off the coach and recover the gold before the caribineri turn up.


    or Plan C

    Learn to!

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Why the Royal Society of Chemistry ?

    Surely an applied mechanics rather than a chemistry problem, or do they acknowledge Rutherford's stamp collecting remark ;)

  24. sam

    Urrr, isn't it fairly easy?

    They've already shown that they can get a bloke almost to the gold before it gets close to toppling. Just make everyone gets really far back, then the lightest person jumps out and fetches rocks from the nearby road (there are plenty). Pile these up in the drivers' cab to stabilise the coach. Then the light bloke gets back in, fetches the gold and they have enough weight now to get everyone and at least 90% of the gold out in shifts. Leave the rocks in the coach as they're not worth that much...

  25. Anonymous Coward

    No helicopters allowed.

    "Difficulty: No helicopters allowed. "

    Not even black helicopters?? :(

    I'll get me coat....

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The answer is obvious.

    Step 1. Charlie lets all the gold be lost out of the back of the bus into the Alps

    Step 2. There is not much loss because Gordon Brown has sold far more, after telling everyone was he going to, the genius, so gold isn't worth anything.

    Step 3. Gordon Brown buys into the criminal fraternity taking a 28% stake in return for an investment to the value of the gold.

    Step 4. Gordon also lends the Italian Government 20 Billion Million Trillion Lira (7 euros fifty, to replace the cost of the stolen gold.)

    Step 5. All this has cost nobody anything, due to the Gordonomics argument that he's not putting tax up after the election.

    Step 6. Gordon is announced a genius. The electorate soon have to pay a new breathing levy, which is not a tax, but is a "levy" to compensate for the CO2 people breathe out.

    Step 7. Tessa Jowell suggests that if we all "hope enough" criminals will realise "their methods are unfair, and they'll think about how bad they've been."

    Step 8. Harriet Harman complains about Benny Hill molesting women, and the actresses not being paid the same as Charlie.

  27. TeeCee Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    As pointed out.

    The coach teeters on the cliff. The gold slides towards the rear.

    Since the mass of that much gold would somewhat exceed the mass of anything available to counterbalance it, the fact that the bloody thing didn't plunge over the edge when it moved rearwards indicates one of two things. 1) The thing's nowhere near as unstable as it appears to be, so getting the stuff should just be a matter of walking down the other end, ignoring the unsettling swinging motion or 2) it's all artistic license so the whole thing's a pointless load of cobblers anyway.

    What's the point of trying to come up with a scientific solution to a problem which has already caused the laws of physics to bugger off in disgust.?

    No helicopters allowed? A classic "where's my flying car?" moment, if ever there was.

  28. Andy


    The Benny Hill character turns up with a bus load of fat women. Next, they .... Oh, hell, you get the idea.

    (And if that made no sense to you, you've forgotten the movie!)

  29. Anonymous Coward


    nuff' said.

  30. Rob
    Thumb Up

    Okay lads, I've got an idea...

    Step 1. Get stuck teetering on the edge of a cliff with the gold

    Step 2. ???

    Step 3. Profit!

  31. Steve C
    Thumb Down


    Surely, if it's a "half descent" engineer, he'll never make it to the bottom to collect the gold.

  32. Kenny Millar

    El reg take up the baton

    Pah - 1st January is too far away.

    Lets get El Reg to hand out some Cash 'n' Carrion stuff after 1 week instead!

  33. Anonymous Coward


    Maybe in the spirit of Percy, they are trying to get the gold to transmutate into a newer and lighter material called Green. Purely by alchemical means dontcha know. Now I know where all my dues went!

    Efros MRSC C.Chem.

  34. Tigger in Amsterdam

    Michael Caine has already told everyone

    Michael Caine already blurted it out on a previous Jonathon Ross talkshow.

    The engine kept running, reducing the weight in the petrol tank at the back and allowing someone to crawl along and tie something to the gold-carrying pallets. They drag it forward, get the coach going again and carry on.

    Then the Mob turn up again, chase them, grab the gold and so begins the sequel......

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @steve C

    touche! <badum-ching>

    I curse my spelling (in)ability...

  36. Mark

    @Steve C

    Not if he only descends the bottom half of the cliff!

  37. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Michael Caine has already told everyone

    Yeah but since Jonathan Ross is now the root of all evil, that no longer counts, yeah?

  38. Murray Pearson
    Thumb Up

    It's easy.

    Just ask the aliens flying past in their UFO to hold up the end of the bus!

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I always thought...

    ...that they should let the gold take the plunge, at which point the bus would become a lot more stable. If the road in question is the Stelvio pass as it appears to be then it shouldn't be too hard to access the gold from further down the hill. Quite how they do that without a vehicle I don't know.

    Having said that the ending is one of the many things that makes it such a good film and something that wouldn't happen in any American financed film today (yes it was) even if it did only cost £4m to make. Actually resolving the issue would ruin the film, collapsing, as it would the wave form (could we introduce a cat in a box to the plot?). Which is why true fans of the film were always against a rumoured sequel.

  40. David Pollard

    Angels dancing on a pinhead?

    The Royal Society has succeeded in bringing to attention a curious aspect of being human that is often overlooked. We often seem happier to engage in hypothetical discussions about something that we know only exists in our imagination than to engage with reality.

    Hmm, I must do some work...

  41. Dick

    I know

    Shoot out the back windows of the bus.

  42. Marvin the Martian

    @ TeeCee

    That's exactly what I always hated about the film:

    your bus is unstable and leaning backwards, so the gold slides merrily further, moving the centre of gravity even further, yet not toppling. Very weird.

    But it's not necessarily that false, the feeling of instability; with each rocking, the bus may slide a half-inch towards doom. Thus giving you indeed a different situation each minute, and disaster in 30.

    I'm slightly worried about the original plan: burning up so much fuel in 30minutes (well, 28 + 2min for getting the gold out) while in idle?? (If you rev hard it will vibrate you off the cliff.) How's that jalopy going to get across the alps, or even across Torino, on a regular day? What mileage.

  43. Bob Ginger

    Mathematician's answer

    First, assume a 90 tonne crane...

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The physicist's answer.

    First, we assume the chicken is completely spherical.

  45. Efros
    Paris Hilton

    The philosopher's answer

    First define gold.

    Paris, cos even philosophers have a libido.

  46. Petrea Mitchell

    @Why the Royal Society of Chemistry ?

    Yes, clearly this should be handled by the Royal Society for Self-Preservation.

    UK readers are free to suggest which agency comes closest to being that...

  47. Jon Tocker
    Thumb Up

    Andy and Petrea Mitchell

    "The Benny Hill character turns up with a bus load of fat women. Next, they .... Oh, hell, you get the idea."

    "Yes, clearly this should be handled by the Royal Society for Self-Preservation."

    Excellent, both of you.

    Wondering what's next - perhaps the Royal Forest and Bird Society will come up with a prize for an answer to what happens to the shotguns from "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels"...

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    What's the prize?

    Three days in Torino? So second prize is four days then?

    One night in Paris would have been better.

  49. Joe Zeff

    Ya know...

    The Royal Society says that you can't use a helicopter. In that case, why don't they just use either an autogyro or a blimp?

  50. Captain DaFt

    As long as we're being silly...

    Use the Force, Charlie!

    Yeah, I know... Mines the one with "The Prequels SUCK!" emblazoned on the back of it.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    and get some climbing gear.

    courtesy of the self preservation society.

  52. BigSteve


    I like the "The Benny Hill character turns up with a bus load of fat women. Next, they .... Oh, hell, you get the idea." thing (what happened to his character anyway?)

    Anyway how did this challenge even come to be? - the result of a some top egg-heads drinking down the pub talking about films when one says "Itallian job - great film! but what happens after the credits roll at the end?" & the others reply "erm......" or did it come about after one of them made the same mistake I did of watching the film while their 14 daughter was there & triying to answer her "but what happen to them?" nagging

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