1960 and 1964 the Rat Pack made four movies; but none of these films
was ever going to win an award! As Sinatra said... "Of course
they're not great movies! But we are not setting out to make Hamlet
or Gone with the Wind. We are out to make films the people enjoy.
It's called Entertainment."
the Rat Pack wasn't even Sinatra's idea. It had started with his pal,
Humphrey Bogart, who named a group of his drinking buddies the Holmby
Hills Rat Pack. They were dedicated to drinking and flying in the
face of public opinion. When Bogart died in 1957, Sinatra took over
the reins. It was perfect timing, because the swinging sixties were
just around the corner, and baby, could Sinatra and the new Rat Pack
Joining Frank were Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jnr., Peter Lawford, Joey
Bishop and (as mascot) Shirley Maclaine, who once said: "Here
I am, surrounded by the most attractive men in the world, and they
treat me like one of the boys!"
new Rat Pack were the last word in cool. They wore natty mohair suits
and spoke in hip slang that only they could understand. All women
were "broads"; God was "the big G"; Death "the
big casino" and "Dullsville" was anywhere but Las Vegas....
There was only one rule for the members of Frank's pack unswerving
loyalty (to Frank). Anyone falling foul of this dictum faced banishment
from Sinatra's good graces.
The Rat Pack's crowning moment came in early 1960 in Las Vegas. By
night they shared the stage of the Sands Hotel, astounding the standing
room only crowds with their singing talent and irreverant off the
cuff humour. By day, the pack filmed what was to be the first of four
Rat Pack movies... 'Oceans 11'.
Style... Panache... These guys had it all. It was Vegas,
1960, and it was the summit of the cool. The guys were in town
to have a little hey-hey and start to shoot Ocean's 11,
a film based on a plot outline that Peter Lawford had bought
from a guy who worked in L.A. It is the story of eleven friends
who know each other from World War II service, and led by Danny
Ocean (Sinatra) they plan to rob five casinos in Las Vegas on
New Years Eve. They concoct a masterplan but, naturally, something
11 is the ultimate movie for Rat Pack fans. Here was a film
that made robbery seem fun! When Dino read the script he supposedly
said "Forget the movie, let's pull the job." Although
panned by critics, the film was a box office success with
the public, and in later years inspired the satorial elegance
of Martin Scorsese's, "Goodfellas". Likewise, Tarantino's
"Reservoir Dogs", whose opening scene is a clear
homage to the famous walking shot of the Rat Pack looking
cool, suave, confident and razor sharp. Even an "Ocean's
11" remake is about to hit the big screens. Starring
"George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon it seems everybody
wants to be The Rat Pack...
Rat Pack had it all, and it was beautiful... Baby.
last film had been such a blast and financially all the guys
had received a nice piece of the action; so it made sense
to do it again. This turned out to be the spring of 1961 when
all the guys were reunited in the desert shooting the film
"Soldiers 3". But due to the fact MGM had a movie
with that very title, Sinatra agreed to change the name to
"Sergeants 3" during the editing. When informed
of the title change, Joey quipped, "I wish you had told
me earlier. I would have played it differently."
in Utah, this is a western remake of "Gunga Din",
but with American Indians... Sinatra, Martin, Lawford and
Bishop are inseperable buddies who, during a drunken brawl,
meet with a freed slave (Sammy Davis) Whose dream is one day
to become a cavalryman and play the company bugle.
the usual adventures they foil the planned Indian massacre
when Sammy's bugle blowing alerts the U.S. Cavalry to the
hordes of Sioux massed to attack. The sergeants are decorated
for bravery and Sammy is made the company bugler.
is simply another fun film. Frank had always insisted these
films were done for fun and money. Anyone who took them seriously
was an idiot the guys certainly didn't! They even took
a day off filming, flew to Vegas and with drinks in hand stormed
the stage at The Sands Hotel. They broke up the headline act,
grabbing the spotlight and doing bits from the Summit to the
delight of the audience and dismay of the stars.
message was clear... Vegas belong to The Rat Pack
FOR TEXAS (1963)
Sammy, Peter or Joey; so not really a Rat Pack film. Also, not
really a very good film. Sammy and Joey were tied up with other
projects and Peter was out in the cold. Frank had once again
cut Peter adrift but this time there would be no way back. So
instead Frank drafted in the Three Stooges. At least it was
gonna be fun!
film is a tongue in cheek western with Frank and Dean playing
friendly enemies fighting over a riverboat gambling saloon
and each others girlfriends, played by Anita Ekberg and Ursula
Andress. But they are forced to join forces to beat the real
bad guys... The bad guys defeated, Frank and Dino marry their
girlfriends in a double wedding.
film can't make up its mind if it's a parody or a real western
neither can Frank or Dean. Maybe they should have married
film opened to a lukewarm reception. Times were changing and
the writing was on the wall. Only a fool would deny it.. The
members of the Rat Pack were getting older.
there was still life in the old dogs yet...
AND THE 7 HOODS (1964)
last throw of the dice for the boys. Once again they had put
a number in the title, the number in the title had nothing to
do with the film. But like the previous three:11,3,4 and now
7, it was obvious that Frank was shooting craps... But with
the film studio's money!
The film was a loose musical updating of Robin Hood, with Frank
as a Chicago mobster named Robbo in the roaring twenties. Dean
and Sammy played his sidekicks and Bing Crosby played a bogus
charity worker. Joey had some disagreement with Frank and was
promptly shown the door.
time the film had a couple of great songs: "Mr Booze",
"Style," and "My Kinda Town Chicago" which
has become an anthem for the windy city. Barbra Falk plays the
female interest who plays the guys off against each other and
finally ends up with Crosby, leaving the trio impoverished,
but the good guys they really were.
film did well at the box office, but the carefree days and the
party was over. The film now appeared to be out of date and
from a time now sadly passed by... America had become aware
of a place called Vietnam.
turned out to be women. Singers grew sensitive and more serious.
It was a new generation. But 35 years on, The Rat Pack are more
popular than ever. Films, books and tribute shows... So maybe
Dean had got it right when he said:
Sinatra's world. We just live in it, Baby."