Turns out he did have a great idea after all — The Italian Job’s cliff-hanger ending has been solved after almost 40 years.
The classic 1969 film ends with Caine’s gang in a bus filled with gold, hanging over the edge of the ravine. If Caine move towards the loot, the bus topples closer to the edge. But if anyone tries to leave, they all go over anyway. All seems lost.
But then Caine’s character chirps up: “Hang on lads, I’ve got a great idea.” And then the film ends.
The debate over just how Croker would have saved the gold has raged for decades. So in an attempt to solve it once and for all, the Royal Society of Chemistry recently held a competition to find the best explanation.
Around 2,000 people sent in entries. Our favourite came from twelve-year-old Thomas Nixon. He said the gang should sing until they got “frogs” in their throats, and then the frogs start jumping up and down, rocking the bus. The gang then use the “rocks” to weigh the bus down and when their throats are sore from singing, they use the “saw” to cut the gold in half. And because two halves make a whole, the gang use the “hole” to escape. Neat.
But it was a more practical entry from John Godwin in Surrey that eventually won the contest. According to his plan, the gang first smash the windows at the back end of the coach to improve the weight ratio. Then one of the gang is lowered outside to deflate the wheels. To even out the weight ratio further Croker turns on the engine and drains the fuel tank of its 140kg of petrol. Then one of the men leaves and brings back rocks to stablise the front of the bus and remove the gold.
On balance that makes more sense than our solution, which basically relied on the sudden appearance of an alien space craft.