Ocean’s 11: 50th Anniversary – Blu-ray Review

George Clooney is not Danny Ocean. He played the character called Danny Ocean in a movie called Ocean’s Eleven but he’s not Danny Ocean. The real Danny Ocean is Frank Sinatra in Ocean’s 11. Clooney starred in a lazy rip-off of an iconic masterpiece about an all-star group of career criminals pulling off a major heist using sleight of hand. Sinatra’s original tale involves military veterans taking down five casinos simultaneously with an ending that’s extremely non-Hollywood. Ocean’s 11: 50th Anniversary Blu-ray visually explodes with the color and details of old Las Vegas from a time when the Rat Pack ruled the Strip and robbed the safes.

Danny Ocean and Jimmy Foster (Peter Lawford) reunite their old 82nd Airborne paratroop buddies, but this isn’t a trip down memory lane. They have a final mission for the troops. Thanks to criminal mastermind Spyros Acebos (Akim Tamiroff), there’s a plan on how to take down Las Vegas in a single swoop. Some of the men aren’t quite sold that they can pull it off. Tony Bergdorf (The Godfather‘s Richard Conte) resists until he needs money for his son. He’s got the Big Casino. Even when the 11 unite, there’s an air of uncertainty. Sam Harmon (Dean Martin) knows they’re a bunch of middle aged guys whose great moments were near misses. What chances do they have at such an elaborate plan? Turns out they have a great chance with Josh Howard (Sammy Davis Jr.) working undercover for the Vegas garbage department. He ties together all five casinos that will be struck on New Year’s Eve.

The film is pure macho. The talk between the Rat Packers about what they’ll do with their fortunes won’t go over well with sensitive ears. They joke about beauty contests and taking away the vote for a certain group of people. This isn’t a serious crime thriller. There’s also plenty of musical interludes including Sammy’s rendition of “EE-O-Leven.” Dean’s undercover gig involves him playing a lounge so he gets a chance to croon, “Ain’t That a Kick In the Head.” Oddly enough, Sinatra doesn’t chip in a song. He’s too busy keeping the plan going strong with a crew that also includes Henry Silva (Manchurian Candidate) and Norman Fell (Three’s Company).

The only thing that might ruin the scheme is Duke Santos (Batman‘s Cesar Romero). He’s can get a piece of the action if he busts Ocean’s men. There shall be no spoiling of the ending except to say that it’s not a feel good outlaw moment. It’s a perfect final note that’s miles ahead of the smug ending George Clooney gave us. Ocean’s 11: 50th Anniversary Blu-ray brings all the detail needed to capture such a huge cast as they take down a glitzy town.

The video is 2.35.1 widescreen. The 1080p brings out the details of old school Las Vegas. They really did shoot in the various casinos on the strip. The audio is a DTS-HD 1.0 track. They didn’t mess with making it faux stereo. The mix is still effective with the atmosphere of the time coming through the speaker. There are mono dubs in French and Spanish. The subtitles are in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish.

Audio Commentary with Frank Sinatra Jr. and Angie Dickinson. Frank gives plenty of insight of his father’s work. He lets us know about Saul Bass’s credits. There’s a bit of dead space between chats as it sounds like he typed out notes to read beforehand. Angie’s audio is edited into the track during her scenes.

The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson (3:45) is a night when Frank Sinatra was guest hosting for Johnny. His guest is Angie Dickinson. The duo talk about being in Ocean’s 11. Frank spoils the ending so watch this after the feature!

Tropicana Museum Vignette (1:40) introduces to the Casinos Legends Hall of Fame at the hotel.

Vegas Map gives quick video tours of the Sahara (1:24), Riviera (3:45), Desert Inn (3:12), The Sands (4:49) and Flamingo (3:55). They have plenty of older speakers connected with the hotels and vintage clips from the hotels’ early days. The Desert Inn gained more fame as the location of Vega$, but is now the Wynn. The Sands was demolished to makes way for The Venetian.

Theatrical Trailers give a long (3:12) and short (1:02) tease of the impending action. They focus on the amazing star power.

Ocean’s 11: 50th Anniversary remains one of the great heist films of all time. The scope of the action is huge. The plotters are not the usual suspects with a criminal record that overflows a filing cabinet. This is a precision military operation run by ex-GIs. The film captures the Rat Pack at their prime when the world was their party and they didn’t mind sharing a bit of the fun with the audience. Forget George Clooney and his three Ocean’s movies. This is the only film about Danny Ocean that needs to be upgraded to Blu-ray.

Warner Home Video presents Ocean’s 11: 50th Anniversary. Directed by: Lewis Milestone. Starring: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop and Angie Dickinson. Written by: Harry Brown & Charles Lederer. Running time: 127 minutes. Rating: Unrated. Released on Blu-ray: November 9, 2010. Available at Amazon.com.

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