Back in 1955 a heist film called Rififi came out in France and was a big success, remaining one of the greatest crime films ever made. Three years later Italian director Mario Monicelli satirized it with this film.
I must admit that I lost track of things a bit thanks in part to the lousy subtitles provided by the usually reliable Criterion collection. However, the gist is that a group of criminals played by some of the most famous Italian actors like Marcello Mastroianni and Vittorio Gassman plan to break into a pawnshop safe. They think they can pull it off because the wall between an adjacent apartment and the room with the safe is supposed to be paper thin. Sounds promising, but everything goes wrong.
These men are determined to not do an honest days work if them can help it. For them something isn’t worth getting unless you get it by committing a crime. The film manages to capture the gritty look of Rififi and even made Mastroianni and Gassman look unattractive. Although it drags in parts it’s still very funny. I highly recommend it.