Movie Review: Sinatra: All or Nothing At All Part 2.

Posted: June 1, 2015 in Documentary
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Frank Sinatra’s career is rejuvenated by his Academy Award Winning performance in From Here to Eternity and a move to Capital Records where he teamed with arranger Nelson Riddle.  He is still dogged by questions of being a Communist sympathizer, but his career is never hotter.  He starts his own record label, Reprise, he rejuvenates his career and  in turn, rejuvenates the gambling capital Las Vegas.  He forms the Rat Pack with Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop, and Sammy Davis Jr. He gets heavily involved in campaigning for the Kennedy campaign, and played a pivotal role in JFK winning the 1960 Presidential election.

His personal life is always in flux, he divorces Ava Gardner, he dates Lauren Becall, marries Mia Farrow, 30 years his junior, and subsequently gets divorced from her, and his son Frank Jr. gets kidnapped. His career choices became more bizarre as well, he was openly contemptuous of rock and roll stars like Elvis and the Beatles, but late in his career he made television appearances with the Fifth Dimension, and recorded songs by Neil Diamond.  In 1971, Sinatra gave his retirement concert only to perform again in 1974 in Madison Square Garden. Sinatra received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Ronald Reagan in 1985, and died in 1998 of a heart attack.

Frank Sinatra had a remarkable life.  In many ways, he lived the American dream, rising from poverty to worldwide fame and fortune. The way he rose from the ashes of a dying career, while having marital troubles with Ava Gardner is incredible. His staunch support of civil rights was laudable and probably was the reason for his listing on The House Un-American-Committee Hearing transcripts.  He single handedly desegregated Las Vegas by including Sammy Davis in the Rat Pack, and playing with many African American band members.  He stood up to the FBI in the 50’s for labelling him a Communist, and his relationship with JFK could have been a documentary in itself.  Many praise his role in From Here to Eternity, but my favorite Sinatra role is Major Bennett Marco in the Manchurian Candidate

But again this is a largely glowing portrait that never takes Sinatra to task for any of the wrongheaded decisions he made, marrying Eva Gardner, almost marrying Lauren Becall, marrying Mia Farrow when she was 21,  and some of the appearances and recordings he made in the 60’s to appear relevant.  However, if you want a primer about a legendary singer, good actor, and one of the most quietly effective political activists of our time, this documentary is a worthy starting point.

Sinatra:  All or nothing at all.  He did it his way.

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