You wouldn’t call it a gang. Just Danny Ocean and his 11 pals – the night they blew all the lights in Las Vegas!…
Ocean’s 11 just came out (today!) on blu-ray from our pals at Warner Brothers, and one does wonder – which I like to do- why some pictures come out over more deserving ones. Take Ocean’s 11, for example, which is not a particularly good film. 11 marks the first and only of the famous Rat Pack films to feature the entire Pack, as later films always had somebody missing, depending on who Frank was mad at.
The other films in the series that the Rat Pack made are Sergeants 3 (1962), 4 for Texas (1963), and Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964). All are novelties and actually not bad in terms of pure entertainment- and can you tell from the titles that the boys are huge craps fans? Oh, and by the way, I presumed you know, the Rat Pack are Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop. Numerous actresses, termed “Rat Pack Mascots” were also associate members of sorts.
Although this is the most popular version of the Rat Pack, it was originally a similar group headed by Humphrey Bogart. But that is a story for another time.
As movies go, it truly isn’t that stellar when looked at as just a movie. Danny Ocean (Frank Sinatra) gathers a group of his buddies from the war (they are all veterans from the famed 82nd Airborne) with a goal of robbing five Las Vegas Casinos on the same night. It does sound good anyway.
However, the robberies become really anticlimactic as the pack carouses, smokes, drinks, sings a bit, etc. It is really a glamorization of the lifestyle these performers experienced at the time. Filmed in the late hours (and wee hours) after Sinatra’s Vegas shows of the time, Ocean’s 11 quickly becomes the ultimate buddy movie of the 1960s.
What makes it so is that – at least at the time of filming – these guys were buddies. There are a few “token” women here, namely Angie Dickinson, but for the most part they serve as mere playthings for the men. Ms. Dickinson’s somewhat lengthier appearance fares a bit better, but not much.
This film was never meant to be great, and at times isn’t even good, but it is still insanely entertaining. Sinatra and Martin are iconic and the movie looks back (at least it does now) at perhaps a simpler and more reckless time. Late nights eventually do take their toll.
The acting is good, but not great – everyone is on cruise control. Directing as well is strong but not superb.
11 has been out on DVD for a long time in two different box sets and as a standalone release, although I believe the transfer is identical in all three. All featured a fairly healthy array of supplemental materials as well, all of which are ported over to the new blu-ray. Unfortunately there is nothing new but they are still pretty good.
There is a commentary track which is quite good, along with what I would call a walking tour of the casinos in the film. You can go from place to place seeing how the casino was at the time, and this included some interviews with personnel from the casinos themselves. We also get some clips from the cast’s various appearances on the Tonight Show, which are of really poor quality but interesting nonetheless.
Ultimately as always do you need this? Well I have the earlier release and I would say yes – although I am also an unabashed fan of the Rat Pack. The video is sharp and crisp and I found it to be a dramatic improvement. Yes there are a few issues, but this is a fifty year old film. There are numerous soft shots which don’t show too well and at times (1-2 times perhaps) I thought the skin tone coloration was a bit off. The print is clean with only a few instances where some digital effects are seen. Another good job from Warners. There is some grain, just enough to show this is a film, which is my preference.
The sound is also good, but of course lacks great punch given its age. Dialogue is up front and ambient noise is good.
Highly recommended. Available from The WB Shop.
Review copy provided by Warner Bros. Thanks!