HTF REVIEW: The Rat Pack's "Oceans 11" and "Robin and the 7 Hoods"

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Jan 4, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein


    Next week, Warner Home Video is releasing what
    they call the "hipper-than-hip" world of Frank
    Sinatra and the Rat Pack Movies. For the first
    time, three of the studio's most popular RAT PACK
    titles which also includes 4 For Texas, will
    make their way to DVD.
    Of course all of us know that Warner is riding on
    the success of their current box-office hit starring
    George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts. Why
    not take advantage of the release by introducing
    people to the very original. Too bad there aren't
    any Cagney or Bogart remakes, as this may be the only
    way we see more of those films released.
    I wasn't overly fond of either of these two films
    I reviewed, but I'll definitely give Ocean's 11
    a nod as being the more entertaining of the two.
    Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and
    Peter Lawford attempt a daring robbery of Las Vegas's
    five biggest casinos on New Years Eve. It's a plan
    that should have been fool-proof.
    It was difficult to put my mindset back into the
    early 60's where many films not only took their
    time to tell stories (without fast editing or music),
    but also intertwined action with musical numbers.
    I found it rather difficult to get through the first
    hour of the film that ever too slowly sets up the
    characters and the gameplan. The last hour picks
    up speed as an elaborate robbery attempt is made upon
    the casinos and afterwards, the police attempt to
    round up those responsible.
    The overall video quality of this DVD is interesting.
    I am now led to believe that Warner Brothers has
    something against cleaning up their opening and
    closing credit sequences. Like the Dirty Harry movies,
    this film opens up with an absolutely dirty title
    sequence that had me anticipating that the rest of
    the transfer would look just as bad. Fortunately,
    once the title sequence ended, the transfer was fine.
    Picture is very clean with a noticeable hint of grain.
    There is also a very noticeable 3-second bad splice on
    the print halfway through the film.
    The stereo track is very clean and robust.
    It still makes me wonder why the studio doesn't care
    about the entire transfer of their film -- just what
    comes after the opening credits and before the closing.
    Besides a running film commentary with Frank
    Sinatra Jr. and Angie Dickinson, there are a few
    interesting extras on this DVD:
    * A Cast and Crew Film biography of
    each of the main cast members.
    * Map Of Vegas is sort of unique. Presented
    with the infamous blueprint map, you can choose
    between all 5 Las Vegas Hotels in the film and get
    some history behind that hotel either with archival
    footage or by watching interviews of people that
    worked there. There are personal stories about each
    of the cast members who performed live in that town.
    * A clip from The Tonight Show guest hosted
    by Frank Sinatra is presented. Frank is interviewing
    Angie Dickinson who recalls the both of them working
    on Ocean's 11. While it's an interesting
    piece of related television history, the quality of
    the clip is in horrible condition.
    I enjoyed Robin & The 7 Hoods even less.
    This was a pet project of studio exec Jack L. Warner
    who wanted Sinatra to do a musical as part of his
    contract with the studio, at a time when musicals
    had pretty much gone out of style. With a brand
    new score by James Van Heusen on hand, Sinatra agreed
    to make this film.
    The problem I had with it all, is that while this is
    a lighthearted gangster film, I just don't think the
    formula of gangsters and singing goes over well. This
    is quite evident in the film's opening scene when all
    of a sudden Peter Falk breaks out in a musical number.
    Loosely (and I mean loosely) based on the story of
    Robin Hood, the film takes place in Prohibition-era
    Chicago where the Rat Pack takes from the rich and
    gives to the needy. A struggle between two rival
    bosses, Sinatra and Falk, leads to all sorts of
    double crossing throughout the film.
    Joining Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis
    is Bing Crosby who adds a few unmemorable musical
    numbers to this film. In fact, the only memorable
    number is Sinatra's My Kind Of Town.
    Look for a cameo appearance by the all-time great
    gangster actor, Edward G. Robinson.
    For me, the film just moved a little too slowly
    and was bogged down by musical numbers that weren't
    that great. One of the most memorable sequences of
    the film, however, is the transformation of a
    speakeasy into a revival hall.
    Those of you that attended our past HTF meets in
    Los Angeles will recognize the streets of the Warner
    lot that this film took place in. It all looked
    very familiar.
    Though originally a technicolor release, this is
    not one of the better technicolor transfers I have
    seen. Overall picture quality is very good, although
    there is noticeable graininess in the background. You
    see most of this during the opening animated credits.
    The stereo track is very clean and robust.
    One of the very few times I actually have the time
    to listen to a running commentary, actually became
    an enjoyable experience. A running commentary with
    Frank Sinatra Jr. has some startling revelations
    about the difficulties of filming Robin & The
    Seven Hoods, which includes the film being shut
    down for 2 weeks due to the assassination of President
    Kennedy. I listened to about 20 minutes of his
    commentary, and it sounds as if he has a lot of
    startling stories to tell about the lack of morale
    on the set during the filming.
    A Behind The Scenes Documentary is actually
    a 10 minute promotional fluff piece from 1964 which
    shows filming on the Warner lot. Basically we are
    shown how many takes are done due to a variety of
    problems as well as all the waiting that is done
    between these takes.
    Finally, the original Theatrical Trailer is
    Interesting Trivia
    Two actors who appeared in each of these films
    separately, later went on to become villains in
    a very popular 60's series. Can you name them
    and the villains they played in that series?
    Final Thoughts
    I do enjoy good classic movies. I also immensely
    enjoy good musicals. Having said that, I don't
    think that either of these films qualify under
    any of those categories. Take it for what it is
    worth, these are films that will appeal mostly to
    the Sinatra fans as much as Elvis films appealed
    to his fans -- nothing more, nothing less.
    Warner has done a nice job with the transfer,
    sans a problem with the film credits. To top it
    off, the studio did not hesitate to include some
    extra features that they really did not have to
    go as far to do for a release of this caliber.
    Release Date: January 8, 2002
  2. Scott Leopold

    Scott Leopold Supporting Actor

    Nov 21, 2001
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    I was lucky enough to find Ocean's 11 at the local store yesterday. This particular location isn't really good at adhering to release dates, so I scored one of my favorite movies (and an eagerly anticipated DVD) a little early. While I can't disagree one bit with Ron on the technical details of the DVD (the opening credits look like they dragged them along under some movie theater's seats), I have to say that I have a much different opinion of both films. Robin & the 7 Hoods is a little on the slow side, but is still an entertaining musical, and a Rat Pack feature to boot. If you're a fan of the Rat Pack, you'll enjoy this movie.

    Ocean's 11, though, has been one of my favorites for years. I'd been dying to see ever since I saw the spoof of it on SCTV when I was about 12 years old. Unfortunately, the few times it showed on cable I missed it, and the only place locally that had a copy of it had a $30 price tag on it. I nearly broke down and bought it for that price, when one day at ******** I found a single copy for $10 (this was when e-commerce was still in its youth, and I didn't fully trust internet shopping at that point). I found it to be a hugely entertaining movies, with one of the greatest endings of all time.

    Getting back to the DVD, the extras are enjoyable, the print (minus the opening credits and horrific splice) is decent, and finally having it in widescreen is a dream come true. I'm eagerly awaiting Robin & the 7 Hoods next week. (NOTE: I'll probably pass on 4 for Texas, which is truly tedious and almost painful to watch. Also, if they ever get around to releasing Sergeants 3 (the only movie, other than Ocean's 11, to feature the entire Rat Pack--although it will most likely never see the light of day due to controversy of the subject matter (it's a retelling of Gunga Din set in the Old West)), I'll buy it, but I don't know if I'll watch it. I bought a VHS copy off ebay, and it took 4 attempts over the course of a week to get through it.)
  3. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
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    How can you not like Frank and the boys??????????????[​IMG] I am not a big Frank Sinatra fan, however I loved the Rat Pack when they are performing together whether it's in movies or on television. You're right, neither film will qualify as a great film or musical but each film had it's moments. My order of dvds are on the way to me so hopefully, tomorrow I will be able to watch them. Oh well, to each his own![​IMG] By the way, if you ever get a chance to see the film "Some Came Running" you'll see some of the Rat Pack Frank, Dean, and unofficial member Shirley MacLaine do some pretty good acting in the Rat Pack's best overall film.
  4. Mark Cappelletty

    Mark Cappelletty Cinematographer

    Jun 6, 1999
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    Scott, that would be the classic "Maudlin's Eleven." I saw this on TCM a few weeks back and was surprised to see Norman Fell as part of the gang!
  5. streeter

    streeter Screenwriter

    May 24, 2001
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    What happened to the Steven Soderbergh commentary that was going to be on this DVD? This was the reason I pre-ordered this disc... so that I could get it on day 1 instead of at another time when I had more money. I'm not really disappointed, since it still has a commentary by Sinatra Jr. and Dickinson, but I'm just curious what happened...
  6. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

    Feb 9, 1999
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    George Raft (another famous movie "gangster") makes a cameo appearance in "Oceans 11".

    P.S. The recently released CD "Live At The Sands" is a must for ratpackers. P.C. it isn't, but it's very funny and entertaining. An old friend Wally Heider, now deceased, was the recording engineer.
  7. Jeff Whitford

    Jeff Whitford Screenwriter

    Dec 31, 1998
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    Robin and the Seven Hoods is one of my favorite movies of all time. Cant wait to get it.
  8. Kajs

    Kajs Second Unit

    Jun 22, 2001
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    To answer the trivia question, The Joker and King Tut from the Batman series of the 60's.
  9. AaronJB

    AaronJB Second Unit

    Nov 2, 1998
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    Maybe I'm just imagining things (entirely possible), but does anyone else remember announcements for the original "Ocean's 11" DVD containing a commentary from "Ocean's 11" remake director Steven Soderberg?

    There's the Sinatra, Jr. and Angie Dickinson track, but that's it. Just a little dissapointed, because I think it would have been terrific to have Soderberg comment about the differences and his thoughts between his remake and the original.
  10. Gary_E

    Gary_E Second Unit

    May 6, 1999
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    Robin and the 7 Hoods is a guilty pleasure of mine. Peter Falk ("I know there's a gambling joint here.")steals every scene he's in.
    There's a great widescreen presentation of Dean, Frank and Bing doing "You Gotta Have Style". There's no way to P&S that scene.
    Dean's line when Sinatra bumps into him while shooting pool is a classic: "Watch it pal or six of your best friends will be carrying you by the handles."
  11. Damien Montanile

    Damien Montanile Stunt Coordinator

    Jun 3, 2000
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    I wasnt truly certain over the release date of Ocean's 11... Weird that ******* had it on the shelves here for the past week or so...

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