May is past (and with it, my tribute to the screen team of Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour). So, next up for the month of June is actor and singer Frank Sinatra (which you might have noticed if you’ve paid any attention to my homepage for the last few weeks)! As previously indicated here, I’m still not doing this as a blogathon (especially since I didn’t announce it a month ahead of time), but, if you’re interested in joining in anyways, you can still contribute if you’d like to (as long as it’s still in the month of June 2022)!
Table Of Contents
Quick Film Career Bio
Birth: December 12, 1915
Death: May 14, 1998
On December 12, 1915, Francis Albert Sinatra was born to Antonino Martino Sinatra and Natalina Garaventa in Hoboken, New Jersey. Since he had to be delivered via the use of forceps, he suffered permanent scarring on his face and a perforated eardrum. As a kid, Frank became fascinated with music, listening to many big singers (including Bing Crosby), while performing at a tavern operated by his parents and at family gatherings. He left high school before he graduated, and tried various odd jobs (mostly as a favor for his mother). With his mother’s help, he got his start when he joined a group of singers called “The Three Flashes” (which was renamed the “Hoboken Four” after he joined). However, he didn’t end up staying with them for too long. After getting employment as a singing waiter for a brief period, he signed with bandleader Harry James, whom he toured with for six months. Feeling he wasn’t getting the success there that he thought he should, he signed with the far more successful Tommy Dorsey.
It was while singing with Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra that Frank made his debut in the motion pictures (in 1941’s Las Vegas Nights). Although Frank enjoyed greater exposure with Tommy Dorsey, his contract (which entitled Dorsey to a third of Sinatra’s lifetime earnings as an entertainer) left him feeling too confined. Somehow, Frank was able to buy out his contract (the exact method isn’t fully known, leading to many conspiracies about mob connections). Not long after, Frank made history with his very successful opening at the Paramount Theater on December 30, 1942 (a feat which would be topped in 1944 when he returned for what would become the infamous “Columbus Day Riot,” so great were the hysterics of his fans who were unable to get into the theater that time). On the music front, he signed with Columbia Records in 1943. In Hollywood, he started out with RKO Studios, but quickly switched to MGM when they cast him in Anchors Aweigh (1945) opposite rising star Gene Kelly. He enjoyed several more hits at MGM before a combination of rumors about him being associated with mobsters (like Lucky Luciano) and being miscast in The Miracle Of The Bells (1948) sent his career downhill. He still enjoyed some success opposite Gene Kelly in the 1949 films Take Me Out To The Ball Game and On The Town, but they weren’t enough to save his career.
When Columbia Pictures was trying to cast their film adaption of James Jones’ novel From Here To Eternity, everybody wanted a shot at it. It took some pushing (and a willingness to take a pay cut) for Frank to get the role of Angelo Maggio, a role that would result in him winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar (and thus resurrecting his career). On the recording side, he signed with Capitol Records, where he was paired with arranger Nelson Riddle (who helped him to develop the style he would later be known for). In the movies, Frank had a few more hits in the form of Suddenly (1954) and The Man With The Golden Arm (1955) (for which he received another Oscar nomination). In the process, he started to gain power in his ability to have movies altered (like when he had the ending changed for 1954’s Young At Heart), although he didn’t gain enough power quick enough to get the coveted role of Sky Masterson in Guys And Dolls (1955). Still, through films like High Society (1956) (opposite Bing Crosby), The Joker Is Wild (1957) and Pal Joey (1957), he continued to rise to the top of the box office.
Beginning with Some Came Running (1958), he started working with Dean Martin and various other members of the Rat Pack. As an overall group, they made their first appearance together in Ocean’s 11 (1960). They continued to make movies together into the 1960s, ending with Robin And The 7 Hoods (1964). On his own, Frank continued to enjoy success in films like The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Von Ryan’s Express (1965) and None But The Brave (1965) (which he directed) before transitioning into detective films at the end of the decade. However, his popularity on the big screen was waning, with Dirty Dingus Magee (1970) being poorly received. Developing Dupuytren’s contracture in his hand, he turned down the title role in Dirty Harry (1971) and went into retirement, both from the big screen and from singing. His retirement was short-lived, as he came back in 1973 for a television special and recorded a new album. He continued to perform, mostly in Las Vegas, with a few attempted returns to the big screen in the form of The First Deadly Sin (1980) and Cannonball Run II (1984). Other than those films and a few TV appearances, he mainly continued to perform at concerts and record new albums. However, in the 1990s, his memory started to fail him, and his health started to go downhill. His final concerts were held in late 1994, with his final singing performance on February 25, 1995 at Palm Desert Marriott Ballroom. He finally succumbed to a heart attack on May 14, 1998.
My Own Feelings On Frank Sinatra
Honestly, Frank Sinatra is one of those classic movie stars I started out not caring for at all. I mainly saw him through films that featured other stars that I liked, like High Society with Bing Crosby, or his three films with Gene Kelly. I personally preferred Bing Crosby (Frank’s main rival as a singer and actor), and it took a while for me to come around to Frank himself. Guys And Dolls was probably the first film I saw with him in it that made me appreciate him as a performer (helped by the fact that the film didn’t really feature anybody else I knew and liked at that time). Ever since, I’ve enjoyed various films of his as I’ve sought them out here and there. So, this month is a nice mix for me of one film I’ve seen before and one that is new to me!
This is a list of all the films that I personally have reviewed from his filmography so far. Obviously, I will be adding to it throughout the month of June, and it is my plan to add to it as I review more and more of his films even beyond this month’s celebration.
Take Me Out To The Ball Game (1949)
The Road To Hong Kong (1962) (cameo)
Entries For This Month
Thoughts From The Music(al) Man –