I'm a sucker for any movie about a heist. Whether it's robbing a casino, breaking into a bank, or stealing the answers to the SAT, there's something irresistible about watching a ragtag group of oddballs and ne'er do wells pull off an intricate crime against all odds.
But rousing capers are best left for the silver screen, because in real life, oddballs and ne'er do wells typically come up with half-baked schemes that rarely go as planned.
Recently, over thirty suspects were arrested in Sardinia and northern Italy. While the suspects have been tied to trafficking both drugs and weapons, they've also all allegedly been linked to an elaborate plan to steal the corpse of Enzo Ferrari (the man for whom Ferrari cars are named) and hold it for ransom.
When I first read about this heist gone awry, I immediately checked three other sources to make sure I was reading the actual news and not some Hollywood producer's offbeat pitch for a reboot of Weekend at Bernie's. After all, this sounds less like a current event and more like an excerpt from a young adult mystery series. Because whenever I hear someone say something like, "Today, criminals were foiled from robbing a famous guy's grave," I expect it to be uttered by a cartoon cop right before an animated villain in handcuffs grumpily mumbles the words, "And I would've gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for you meddling kids and that talking dog."
But this is definitely a real thing that actually happened, and knowing that raises a lot of questions. Like, who on Earth would pay a ransom for a dead body? Why does the San Cataldo Cemetery look like a postmodern concentration camp? And how well guarded are Italian graveyards that it takes more than thirty people to steal one corpse?
Reports suggest that the gang had spent more than a year developing a detailed plot to burgle Enzo Ferrari's body, which sounds excessive. I'm far from a criminal mastermind, but it doesn't seem like abducting a dead guy should be that much work. I assume all you'd need is a decent shovel, a windowless van (you couldn't use an actual Ferrari to transport Ferrari's corpse because there wouldn't be enough space in the trunk to fit the coffin), some Vicks VapoRub to neutralize the permeating smell of death that accompanies a corpse that's been rotting since 1988, and two to three reliable henchmen who aren't afraid of being cursed by the vengeful spirit of a deceased race car driver. It sounds relatively easy. But I guess if these gangsters were any good at crime, they'd've come up with a better scheme than holding a dead dude ransom.
Of course, now that the suspected criminals have been arrested, there has to be a trial. And while this whole ordeal is ridiculous, revamps of classic films are all the rage right now, and I think that the trial could provide a great premise for a My Cousin Vinny sequel wherein Joe Pesci flies to Italy to help out a few long-lost cousins and Marisa Tomei's encyclopedic knowledge of cars gets everyone acquitted.