Every so often you encounter a film that reaffirms your faith in the European popular cinema.
Seven Times Seven is such a film.
It is just such a joy from beginning to end, with everyone involved getting in on the spirit of things and communicating their enthusiasm.
Effectively it's like an Italian version of The Italian Job - a crime caper. Indeed, perhaps it should be promoted as The English Job...
It is emphatically not a rip-off, however, being released a good year before Peter Collinson's film. (Someday Hollywood will discover this film.)
We begin in a high tech if not quite futuristic prison, governed by none other than Adolfo Celi in delightfully sadistic / Bond villain mode.
It is the weekend of the FA Cup final and his refusal to let the inmates watch the match precipitates a mass protest.
Meanwhile seemingly aristocratic conman Benjamin Burton makes the mistake of posing as a Health Inspector in the club that happens to be frequented by the minister for health, resulting in his arrest and imprisonment for 90 days.
These and other apparently disparate plot threads then weave together as it becomes apparent that Burton is one of the masterminds behind an especially audacious plan: He and six other prisoners, each of whom has been sent to the prison infirmary, are going to break out during the Cup Final, print a few million pounds worth of bank notes at the Royal Mint, and return to the prison before their absence has been recognised to provide them with the perfect alibi.
An immediate complication is the presence of a seventh inmate in the ward, Sam. Though the others decide to take him with them, he then proceeds to die on them, such that they now have to smuggle back his body into the prison.
This is, however, only the first of many events to intervene in their best laid, perfect crime plans...
Michele Lupo's direction is deliberately exaggerated, even grotesque, with a profusion of comic-book style set-ups and angles: Shoot from above or below, or at an angle, but certainly not just straight on, is the order of the day. So too are bright coloured visuals and exaggerated production design.
The cast is, for the Euro-trash fan, simply to die for. Besides the aforementioned Celi we have ... deep breath ... Gaston Moschin (Burton), Lionel Stander (Sam), Gordon Mitchell, Teodora Corra, Terry-Thomas, Erica Blanc, Ray Lovelock, John Bartha and Fulvio Mingozzi, among others.
Name the actors
The point is that even if these names mean nothing to you (in which case, why are you reading this?!) the film nevertheless will. So too will the delightful soundtrack, with vocals courtesy of Alessandro Alessandroni's I cantori moderni (read: another name drop/check for the cognoscenti).
The closing credits promised another film/story. If only there had been...