Centered on a series of Las Vegas casino robberies, the film’s other stars included Angie Dickinson, Cesar Romero, Richard Conte, Akim Tamiroff, Henry Silva, Ilka Chase, Norman Fell, Harry Wilson and Buddy Lester, as well as cameo appearances by Shirley MacLaine, Red Skelton, and George Raft.
What’s your drink?
While other movies try to induce the willing suspension of disbelief, this movie goes the entire opposite direction and never lets us forget that these are entertainers putting on a performance. In case you weren’t entirely sure, the closing shot leaves no doubt. As one reviewer perfectly describes it, “The blurred boundaries between showbiz and private life seem to have vanished for good.” That’s quite an accomplishment!
The stars aren’t acting, they’re partying down in an elaborate role-playing game and inviting you the viewer to play along with them. Join the party and for 2 hours you too can be a swinging, sophisticated member of the rat pack who can simultaneously handle a martini and cigarette in one hand and doesn’t have to pause for even a second when somebody asks “what’s your drink?”. “Ocean’s Eleven” is the “Pulp Fiction” of the Kennedy era – a movie that makes you feel hip just to watch it.
The Heist of All Time
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
18 January 2006
I remember back in the day when the commercials were out for Ocean’s Eleven it was described as the heist of all time. It wasn’t exactly that, but there is a spirit of camaraderie that is present through out the film.
Frank Sinatra had signed a picture deal with Warner Brothers and was beginning a long term commitment to the Sands in Las Vegas. What better way than to combine everything at once. A film on location in Las Vegas.
So Frank got his pallies together and they filmed Ocean’s Eleven in between shows at the Sands. They also managed to get into another film, several of the principal players in Ocean’s Eleven did guest shots in Pepe while at the Sands.
Ocean’s Eleven has a lighthearted insouciance about it, a group of former Airborne Rangers get together in Las Vegas for a heist of the big casinos carried on with military precision. Why waste all that good airborne training now that they’re civilians.
Sinatra doesn’t sing in this, I can’t imagine why he didn’t give himself a song here, but Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. did sing two numbers suited to their talents.
Ocean’s Eleven marked the first time that Richard Conte worked in a Sinatra film. He became a Sinatra retainer in his later years, appearing in several Sinatra films. They parted when Conte appeared in The Godfather against Frank’s wishes.
After Ocean’s Eleven came Sergeants Three with the main cast members appearing again. After that the Rat Pack broke up with these guys going their own way, though many of them did have joint projects together over the years. The quality of the films went down hill, except for Robin and the Seven Hoods. That was a musical and not something to be done in your spare time.
The remake of Ocean’s Eleven that George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and several other name players of today did was a far more serious film. Good in its own way, but just not the same.