Don’t ask me where I came across this little gem as I don’t remember any more – a garage sale perhaps or the local used record store. I do remember playing it over and over until it’s vocal rhythms became so imbedded in my brain I didn’t need the record anymore to run through the whole soundtrack in my head.
Somewhere over the years, the original album has gone walkabout. I looked occasionally to find another copy, but without success. Recently, however, the Internet in all its glory coughed up a listing for a European CD featuring the double soundtrack for Seven Golden Men and the sequel Seven Golden Men Strike Again.
Obviously, I hit my PayPal account immediately. I still had never seen the original film, and didn’t even know there had been a sequel, but the sounds of the film and the images of a glorious bank job from the cover of the original album had always stayed with me. In reality, it was also the image of the star of the film, Italian sex kitten Rossana Podestà wearing a cat suit to put Emma Peel to shame, which inflamed my teenage obsession.
With the CD on order, I hit Google again and was delighted to find an English dubbed, off brand, DVD of the actual film for sale through an obscure DVD supplier. A little more PayPal action and Seven Golden Men was finally mine to view.
Let me say up front, while the film is absolutely dated by today’s high-tech action standards, I still got a kick out of the dashing and lighthearted script – and Rossana Podestà in her cat suit still got my pulse racing.
The film is really a forgotten caper classic, comparable to the original Italian Job, Topkapi or the original Ocean’s 11. The cheesy 60's technology and fashions playing out across the screen are perfectly matched by the brilliant soundtrack driving the action – and every note was there just as I remembered it in my head.
Seven Golden Men opens right in the middle of the action as our anti-heroes set about the brilliantly planned and executed robbery as they set out to steal 7 tons of gold from a Swiss Bank vault (apparently, it was illegal to film a bank robbery in Switzerland, so director Marco Vicario used a fake script when shooting on location in front of Credit Suisse in Geneva). The problem for our anti-heroes, of course, is how do you get several tons of gold bars out of the country with nobody at the bank the wiser.
Phillipe Leroy is the suave criminal mastermind with the delectable Rossana Podestà (the director’s wife fresh of her triumph as Helen of Troy – among the many spear and sandal Italian epics for which she became known) as the sexy distraction who is key to the plot.
This is a purely fun Italian caper film. Keeping in mind the ‘moral’ endings demanded by the times for films such as The Italian Job and Ocean’s 11, the ending of Seven Golden Men is never in doubt – however, the fun is in getting there. That said, much of the fun is in the second half of the film.
While the caper itself is clever, there is never much tension as it plays out through the first half of the film – every threat is easily thwarted and even quirks of fate have been accounted for. But once the caper is completed, the double and triple crosses begin and the true cleverness of the film begins. Everything begins to happen fast and furious until the end comes full circle back to the beginning.
Directed by Marco Vicario and written by Vicario, Noelle Gillmor, and Mariano Ozores, Seven Golden Men is a treat for all caper film fans. For me, it was the delightful culmination of a teenage obsession – and the soundtrack will continue to stay with me for a long time to come.