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'The Italian Job' ending finally solved

IT'S one of the greatest cliff-hangers in movie history that has puzzled film fans for decades -- how to solve the conundrum at the end of the classic British film "The Italian Job".

In the 1969 movie's famous final scene, the gang of robbers find themselves trapped at one end of a bus teetering precariously over the side of a cliff while their stolen gold bullion is at the other end.

"Hang on a minute lads, I've got a great idea," says Charlie Croker, the gang's leader played by actor Michael Caine.

Now, the winner of a competition run by Britain's Royal Society of Chemistry might have solved the riddle of getting the gang and the gold out safely.

John Godwin came up with a three-pronged strategy to redistribute the weight-balance in the bus by knocking out the windows and draining the fuel tanks.

This would allow one of the gang to get out and load rocks on the bus, making the bus safe and allowing the gold to be rescued from the bus.

The RSC said it had picked out Godwin's theory from about 2,000 entries it had received which ranged from the ingenious, devious and quirky to the "frankly outrageous".

"Mr Godwin's entry is just the kind of practical thinking Croker would have used -- but he ably demonstrates the science behind the idea as well," said Dr Richard Pike, the RSC's chief executive.

In the film Croker's gang steal the gold from a convoy in the Italian city of Turin and make a daring escape in three Mini cars, driving down staircases and over rooftops in famous chase scenes.

But as they head to Switzerland on an isolated winding mountain road, the bus they are now in skids, leaving the gang, and the gold, dangling over the side of the cliff.

Godwin, who won a holiday to Turin, said the gang would have faced a new problem after escaping from the bus.

"What happens then?" he wrote in his solution.

"Separate problem I suppose, but waiting for a passing motorist and either hijacking (feels quite bad) or buying their vehicle with stolen gold (still feels bad, but less damage and no blood) would see the men on their way to Switzerland."


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