Ocean's Eleven (1960) Review
By Christopher Null
Implausible yet wholly unforgettable, Ocean's Eleven is as much fun as it is a misogynistic relic of a bygone era. Essentially, the Rat Pack of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Peter Lawford are playing themselves as ex-military playboy buddies who decide to pull off a daring heist on New Year's Eve, robbing five Las Vegas casinos in one fell swoop. As it turns out, the heist itself is kind of a forgettable letdown, as is the aftermath involving an investigation into the matter by Lawford's character's future stepfather (Cesar Romero). Even the setup takes close to an hour, as Billy Ocean (Sinatra) woos his lady and slowly gathers his crew -- all while Martin and Davis provide musical accompaniment. The end result is more than two hours of heist work that would make David Mamet cringe.
So why watch Sinatra and his 10 (not 11) ex-military buddies romp through their kinda town? Ocean's Eleven is the kind of movie you turn on and just hang out to, just like the Rat Pack would have done, as you enjoy a scotch and soda on a Saturday afternoon while Dean Martin croons "Ain't that a kick in the head..." in the background. Then you'd go bowling in an orange sweater to talk about the job. When it's over, you won't feel like you've bettered yourself in any way, but you might feel just an inch of kinship with a bygone era when Vegas was black tie-only and when a woman's place was in a distant, supporting role. (Just kidding, dames.)
The 2001 remake put George Clooney in Sinatra's role -- and believe it or not, it's a substantially better movie. If you want to experience the original in full, check out the DVD, which features commentary from Frank Sinatra Jr. and Angie Dickenson (whose role in the film is miniscule), an interactive map of Vegas showing you how it was then and how it is now, as well as a Tonight Show excerpt with Frank and Angie -- and Frank as the host.
Dino says knock you out.
Facts and Figures
Cast & Crew
Also starring: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Peter Lawford, Angie Dickinson, Richard Conte, Cesar Romero, Patrice Wymore, Joey Bishop, Akim Tamiroff, Henry Silva, Ilka Chase, Buddy Lester, Richard Benedict, Jean Willes, Norman Fell, Clem Harvey, Hank Henry, Lew Gallo, Robert Foulk, Red Skelton, George Raft, Lewis Milestone, Harry Brown, Charles Lederer