White Star presents
Frank Sinatra: The Man and the Myth (2004)
"Frank Sinatra was the class act of all time."- Jack Scalia, one of Sinatra's many friends
Stars: Frank Sinatra
Other Stars: Robert Loggia, Jack Scalia, Tommy Lasorda, Pat Cooper, Joe Paterno, Joe Varsalona, Gay Talese
Director: Marino Amoruso
MPAA Rating: Not RatedRun Time: 01h:09m:24s
Release Date: 2004-12-21
DVD ReviewWelcome, brothers and sisters, to the Church of Sinatra, devoted to the worship and burnishing the legacy of the Chairman of the Board. Don't get me wrong; I'm second to no one in my ardor for Frank Sinatra, probably the greatest singer of popular music in the twentieth century. But his is a life that has been gone over and over and over again, and this worshipful documentary sheds no new light on the man, his work or his time. It's useful in providing the basic contours to Sinatra's story, but if you're even casually familiar with Sinatra's biography and body of work, there's almost no compelling reason to watch this.
Born in 1915, Francis Albert Sinatra was the only child of Italian immigrants; his father came from Sicily, his mother, from Genoa, and his hometown, Hoboken, N.J., now devotes a good deal of real estate to celebrating its favorite son—you can frolic in Sinatra Park, and cruise down Sinatra Drive. We get the familiar story of the singer's rise, first with Harry James, then with Tommy Dorsey, and we are actively encouraged to keep the Johnny Fontaine references to ourselves. In fact, the most interesting part of this documentary may be the discussion of Sinatra and the mafia; a number of celebrated Italian Americans (Gay Talese and Tommy Lasorda among them) decry the fact that when one of their own has success in America, there are inevitable whispers about the influence of organized crime.
But that's about as deep as this gets; as a biographer, director Marino Amoruso makes Kitty Kelley look like Robert Caro. The big notes get hit: the torrid, troubled romance with Ava Gardner; the dark years and the comeback with From Here to Eternity; the Rat Pack, the unwise and brief retirement, the twilight years. What's missing, principally, is Sinatra himself. The only movie clips come from trailers, and there's very, very little of the man singing—a few bars of Saturday Night is the Loneliest Night of the Week from the James years is about all there is, though the highlight of the whole package is a TV appearance with Louis Armstrong, featuring a great, throwaway duet on The Birth of the Blues.
Mostly, though, this documentary wants to bask in Sinatra's reflected glory, but it's not especially effective, because it doesn't have a whole lot to offer besides things like the trailer for the original Ocean's 11. The last decades of the Chairman's life get particularly short shrift; there are all kinds of places to go to for more in-depth looks at one of the great entertainers, but this hour barely skims the surface.
Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The old clips are grainy and scratchy, and the newer interview footage has all sorts of nasty video-y contrast. Not a visual feast.
Image Transfer Grade: C
Audio Transfer Review: Lots of crackle, though it's all sufficiently audible.
Audio Transfer Grade: C+
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 11 cues and remote access
Extras Review: Only chapter stops, and very brief clips of Sinatra singing, over the main menu.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsA very, very cursory overview of Sinatra's life, with almost none of his work. You'll get a better flavor of the man and his time by checking out his movies or, even better, getting one of his best albums, like Songs for Swingin' Lovers or Only the Lonely.
Jon Danziger 2005-04-22