Big Deal on Madonna Street is yet another twist on the heist film (see my review of Rififi), only this time played for laughs. An Italian film from 1958, film in a very beautiful black and white, it is about a gang of losers who try to knock off a jewerly store for their last big score. With some people you know (like Claudia Cardinale and Marcello Mastroianni) but mostly people you don't, it's a lot of fun, with a real hilarious ending.
Peppe gets caught trying to heist a car and while in jail, he hears of a "sure thing". He moves heaven and earth to get someone to take the fall for him, and his friends find Cosimo, a down on his luck boxer. But the judge doesn't believe his story and throws the book at both of them, whereupon Peppe spills his secret. Cosimo was actually lying about getting jail time, and takes the secret out with him, enfuriating (obviously!) Peppe.
Cosimo convinces Peppe's friends to help out with the scheme, claiming that it is all Peppe's idea. This gang of 3 time losers that they pull together cases the joint in a wonderful series of shots running through the dark. The idea is to get into a next door apartment and bust through the wall of the jewelery store. But the previously empty apartment now has 2 old ladies and a young maid in it! The fighter begins to woo the maid and all kinds of twists and turns ensue, including a vengeful Peppe getting run over, a funny funeral scene, and the final attempt at a break in, one of the funniest scenes I've seen in quite some time!
This was definitely a fun movie. Not quite as funny as I would have hoped, but there were still some real good moments. All the actors played it straight, and there wasn't a mean streak in the movie, which can sometimes ruin these movies about losers. If you are into heist films at all, then this is a must watch. Otherwise, it is good, light, rental fare.