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“Fly me to the moon; let me sing among the stars. Let me see what spring is like…on Jupiter and Mars. In other words, hold my hand. In other words, baby kiss me.” Those are the lyrics to one of my favorite Sinatra songs, and believe me it was hard to choose just one because there are many. The man had a staggering career that lasted well over fifty years and he still is very popular today with millions around the world. It would be insane for anyone to think that his entire life could be captured in the course of one film or even a series of them, but at least there was a decent attempt.
Back in 1992, Sinatra aired as a multiple part miniseries depicting the crooner’s life as it was. Believe it or not, his life is shown here and it’s not all roses, candy, and good times with the Rat Pack. Sure there are a lot of wonderful moments and some that will touch the hearts of many, but “old blue eyes” Frankie’s life is shown with every trouble and problem he had as well. It’s nice to see that things weren’t tidied up so that casual fans would see him as the star they know him as and that’s it. No, everything about the legend is shown here whether it be good or bad, and hardcore fans of Sinatra can appreciate that effort.
It’s hard to describe what a film like this is about without simply saying that it takes viewers on a chronological journey through Sinatra’s lifetime. You’ll get to see him as a young man just trying out his vocal talents, and a voice instructor telling him to stop because he couldn’t possibly understand the words he was singing. Rather strange hearing someone tell Frank Sinatra that he wasn’t singing with feeling, but he had to start somewhere. Later on you’ll hear him at his greatest singing with true feeling and the way we have all come to know him. Sinatra never actually wrote any songs, but he was able to take the lyrics put in front of him and perform those songs like no-one else ever could. You just couldn’t get the full appreciation or feeling by reading the lyrics yourself. It was his voice, his tones, his carefree expressions…all of those things which made his songs so intense and personal to everyone within hearing distance.
Sinatra was a kid coming straight out of Hoboken, New Jersey, with his parents Dolly and Marty and he wanted to make something out of himself. Starting out with small bands his talent was evident and soon noticed by those that could bring him much higher then he ever expected. As the success kept coming and his professional life in music and films started to grow bigger, things weren’t totally rosy in Sinatra’s heart. He may have been happy on the outside and proven to be a success, but his first marriage had failed and so had many relationships after that. Not everything could come around and be good all at once for him so it was a constant struggle to live a totally happy life or keep going with what made the man he had grown to become.
His life would go on to include many things that seem to come with showbiz success including lots of women, power trips, and even getting in with the wrong crowds. Also showcased in this miniseries is Sinatra’s relationship to mobsters and underhanded gangster activities. It is shown that he often neglected his wives and children so that he could be out singing and doing God knows what. Frank Sinatra was a man that had everything in the world going for him and it could only get better. Yet he was still someone that got involved with stuff he probably shouldn’t have and dealt with problems that maybe could have been avoided. It all depends on you look at the information placed in front of you as to how you wish to judge him.
As for me, Frank Sinatra may have not done things I would necessarily approve of, but I don’t look at him in that respect. His life was his life and only a small portion of it is shown in this series. There is no amount of time that any of us possess which could truly lay forth his entire life. Sinatra was a man that wore many masks and we may never know what all of them meant or even what some of them are. But when I hear his name mentioned all I can think of are some fantastic songs sung by one of the greatest voices to ever enter my ears. His songs are sung with feeling, passion, and with a voice that just gives you a good feeling inside. Sinatra shows us the man with the voice and a little bit of his life. And if you get nothing more from it, at least remember that he did things “his way.”
The film is shown in 1.33:1 Full Screen format and it actually looks really good in the transfer to DVD from a made for television film. Colors are bright and everything looks sharp and good.
The film is heard in Dolby 2.0 Stereo Sound and it is quite a shame that they couldn’t up it to surround sound for this release. All dialogue and such can be heard fine, but the music and singing would have been excellent surrounding the room.
It’s kind of odd that this is called a “collector’s edition” when there isn’t a single special feature included in it. Considering Frank’s daughter Tina was the executive producer on the miniseries, a commentary or even just an interview from her would have been nice. This series had some big named actors in it too so anything would have been nice, but we get diddley squat. The series itself is a really nice look at Sinatra’s life and the crooner is played almost perfectly by Philip Casnoff, but there just appears to be too much squeezing done at times. Some of the moments that would seem more important to me are given only a couple minutes or left out totally without so much as even a mention. Maybe the filmmakers found other things to be more important, but it’s just too hard trying to get Sinatra’s lifespan into the course of four hours. None the less, it’s a good look with some great music so you can’t go wrong with a rental here.
“Cause its witchcraft, wicked witchcraft…and although, I know, it’s strictly tabooooooooo…(snap, snap).”
Warner Home Video presents Sinatra The True Story of The Man And The Legend. Directed by: James Sadwith. Starring: Philip Casnoff, Olympia Dukakis, Joe Santos, Gina Gershon, Nina Siemaszko, Marcia Gay Harden. Written by: William Mastrosimone. Running time: 237 minutes on 2 discs. Rating: Not Rated. Released on DVD: May 13, 2008. Available at Amazon.com