Ocean’s Eleven (1960) (Blu-ray)
In case you were not aware, OCEAN’S ELEVEN did not originate with George Clooney and Brad Pitt. In 1960 a little Hollywood group known as the Rat Pack began the Las Vegas heist flick by the same title. They didn’t have as clever of script (besides the ending) or the great direction from Steven Soderbergh nor did they have the acting chops (they are all singers). But they did have cool and back then the cool factor can get you a long way.
Danny Ocean (Frank Sinatra) and his trusty partner Jimmy Foster (Peter Lawford) (The two characters played by Clooney and Pitt in the recent version) gather a group of their World War II 82nd Airborne buddies to plan a heist on five Las Vegas Casinos: Hotel Flamingo, The Sands, Desert Inn, Hotel Sahara and The Riviera. Among the eleven war-hero criminals are an electrician Tony Bergdorf (Richard Conte), a garbage truck driver Josh Howard (Sammy Davis Jr.), and a Vegas lounge performer Sam Harmon (Dean Martin). Angie Dickenson also makes an appearance as Ocean’s wife but the role has absolutely no bearing on the plot whatsoever. It appears they have the perfect plan until an unexpected problem arises and a local gangster Duke Santos (Cesar Romero) threatens to rat them out.
Watching your favorite suave musician talk nonsensically with a smarmy wit is thankfully a lost art. Today we need a little more substance to sustain an audience. Many of the scenes seem thrown together and the pacing drags at moments. I do appreciate some of the silliness and a couple of the musical scenes with Dean Martin singing “Ain’t That A Kick In The Head” and Sammy Davis Jr. performing “Eee-O Eleven. However, the movie comes to a complete halt as they croon out the classic tunes. I think the film would benefit from playing the music over the top of the scenes to progress the movement of the film.
Opening with groovy Atari graphics of Vegas lights counting to eleven, the film is immediately dated. The visual stimulation is absolutely lacking. Although the neon glow in the dark footprints seen using special glasses does give off a certain smile induced joy. But the part that really dates the film is the black face jokes with Martin, Sinatra, Foster and Davis Jr. Yes, you read that correctly, “black face jokes.”
While OCEAN’S ELEVEN lacks the visual energy compared to what we are accustomed to with today’s film. It does contain a certain charm with legendary stars of old time. The real saving grace of the film is the ending, which I will not spoil for those of you who have yet to see it. It’s a little slow and could be trimmed down in places but the ending definitely makes up for any shortcomings. If you are a fan of the Rat Pack and films of old Hollywood this is a must, otherwise stick with the new version.
Video: (1080p High Definition 16×9 2.4:1) A clear picture but also a dated picture.
Audio: (DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0) Many of the scenes to match the audio with the mouth movement.
Commentary By Frank Sinatra Jr. & Angie Dickenson: He gives a very informative commentary about the actors and making of providing a lot of juicy nuggets about the actors. but his speaking pattern is very deliberate as if he is reading an audio book. I’m guessing he or someone else wrote up notable tidbits like a script. Angie Dickenson only speaks during her scenes, which is very minimal. They both seem very impressed and promote what they call “Digital Video Disc.” Obviously this is the pulled commentary from the DVD. Their commentary is separate.
The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson featuring guest host Frank Sinatra (3:45): Sinatra interviews his costar Angie Dickenson. They talk about their time on that film and seem to forget that they are in front of an audience. I mean that in a bad way but fans of the classic stars will probably still enjoy.
Tropical Museum Vignette (1:40) Steven Cutler the curator of Legends of Las Vegas Museum. Discusses the actual and original use of the casino in the film and how the casinos have changed
Desert Inn (3:12)
The Sands (4:49)
A Then and Now look at each of the Vegas casinos that were used in the heist of OCEAN’S ELEVEN. Owners and cocktail waitress talk about how the performers would come and go hanging out inside the casino with everyone. They would make the shows personal and much more intimate with other stars watching as well.
Trailers: Two separate and very different trailers compared to what we use today.