From the Chicago Reader (September 1, 2000). — J.R.
Conceived as a kind of irreverent parody of both Rififi and The Asphalt Jungle, Mario Monicelli’s stumblebum heist film (1958) about a group of incompetent crooks trying to rob a safe full of jewels is one of the funniest Italian comedies ever made — certainly much funnier than the many imitations and remakes (i.e., rip-offs) it’s spawned over the years, including Louis Malle’s Crackers and Woody Allen’s Small Time Crooks. Monicelli’s sense of character is priceless, and his fabulous cast — including Marcello Mastroianni, Vittorio Gassman, Claudia Cardinale, and Renato Salvatori — makes the most of it. 111 min. (JR)