From Here to Eternity

More than just a roll in the surf.

One of the biggest Oscar winners ever (and deservedly so), this tale of military life right before the attack on Pearl Harbor is best known for Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr gettin’ frisky on the beach.

It’s a potent mix of sudsy soap opera and dark drama, as an all-star cast deals with remarkably mature subject matter for a film released in 1953 (even if censors forced some cuts from the novel).

Nearly 70 years later, it still roars with vibrant life in every scene.

Head back to paradise, and witness cinematic greatness.

 

Strictly Sinatra

Sometimes talent isn’t enough.

Frustrated with his inability to succeed in the music world, a young lounge singer makes a deal with the wrong people in this small British gem.

The Frank Sinatra-lovin’ crooner is played by Ian Hart, who also portrayed John Lennon in three separate productions, while the potential career-makers are mobsters with cold hearts and dead eyes.

One bad guy is played by the great Brian Cox, so adept at making the blood run cold with just a stare and a deep sigh.

Dream big, they tell you, but sometimes those dreams come back to haunt you.

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

Talk about murder, she wrote.

Years later, Angela Lansbury would play that nice old lady solving small-town crimes, but back in ’62, she was a nasty piece of work.

Mother to stressed-out (and likely mentally-compromised) soldier Laurence Harvey, she pokes and prods, and sends her son on a one-way trip to Hell in the ultimate political assassination thriller.

Fellow soldier Frank Sinatra, who keeps waking up in a cold sweat with memories which shouldn’t exist, seems to be the only one who might stop Harvey from pulling the trigger and changing American history.

Tough-nosed and cold-hearted to the very end.

Ocean’s 11 (1960)

Don’t be a fool, choose old school.

The George Clooney-led remake is a smooth piece of filmmaking, sure, but it still can’t beat the Rat Pack doing what they do best in swingin’ Sin City.

Frank Sinatra is the man with the plan, one Danny Ocean, and from there, it’s a roll-call of Vegas heavy hitters moving out to rob five casinos on New Year’s Eve.

Filled with glitz, glamour, a radiant Angie Dickinson, a zippy Saul Bass-designed animated opening sequence, and a knockout final twist, it scores.

Keep your remakes. I want the original ring a ding ding.

Guys and Dolls

“Sit down, you’re rockin’ the boat.”

Guys and Dolls features two of the biggest male stars to ever make movies, but it’s Stubby Kaye who steals the spotlight, at least for a song.

Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra got the big paycheck, but it was a Broadway vet, playing the role he originated on the stage, who gets my favorite moment in this bouncy musical.

As genial gambler Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Kaye shows the matinee idols how it’s done.

He was on a highway to Hell, only now he’s been saved, and the dice are rollin’ hot in Heaven.