“Ocean’s 11: 50th Anniversary Edition” Blu-ray Movie Review

11/21/2010 Posted by Admin

“Ocean’s 11: 50th Anniversary Edition”

Blu-ray Movie Review

Directed by Lewis Milestone, written by Harry Brown and Charles Lederer, 127 minutes, not rated.

By Christopher Smith

The 1960 version of Lewis Milestone’s “Ocean’s 11,” now out on Blu-ray disc, bests Steven Soderbergh’s 2001 version for a singular reason--you believe what’s going down. The characters aren’t caricatures. The “cool” they bring to the screen isn’t manufactured. It’s real.

While the same problem with the first half of the remake also is an issue here--too many characters to take in at once, too many characters clogging the momentum--that is not true for the second half of the movie, in which everything comes together seamlessly and ends with a satisfying twist.

The trivia behind this movie almost is as good as the movie itself. While the Rat Pack--Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop--were busy performing their act in Las Vegas at The Sands at night, they shot the movie during the day and into the early morning. Hardly an easy shoot, but these guys liked to work almost as much as they liked to play.

Also interesting here is Las Vegas itself, where the film eventually takes place. Fifty years have completely changed that city, and there is a kind of fascination in seeing how Vegas has gone from a strip of relatively modest but lively joints to an area of massive hotels and casinos, all gleaming (at least at the south and mid-end of the Strip) with high-end shopping and five-star restaurants. The Vegas that now exists is nowhere in this movie, which deepens the film’s interest, if only from an historic perspective.

Not that creating anything historic is what they had in mind when they made the movie. This film was about having a good time, which occasionally comes at the expense of the story, particularly in its jumbled first half, when the brisk rhythm enjoyed in the movie’s last half isn’t achieved.

The film is about Danny Ocean (Sinatra), who has the idea to hit five Vegas casinos--The Sahara, The Riviera, The Desert Inn, The Sands and The Flamingo--and rob them of millions.

He’ll do so with his buddies from the World War II 82nd Airborne, which include Jimmy Foster (Lawford), Sam Harmon (Martin), John Howard (Davis), Mushy O’Connors (Bishop), Tony Bergdorf (Richard Conte), Roger Corneal (Henry Silva), Peter Rheimer (Norman Fell), Curly Steffans (Richard Benedict), Clem Harvey (Louis Jackson) and Vince Massler (Buddy Lester). Ingeniously, they’ll do the job on New Year’s Eve, just as everyone is loaded up on spirits and singing “Auld Lang Syne,” which will allow for distraction--and opportunity.

Revealing exactly how they plan to take down Vegas would spoil the fun, so we’ll leave it at that. What should be noted is that Angie Dickinson is onboard as Ocean’s wife, Beatrice, and she’s given just a trace more screentime than Julia Roberts was in the remake--which isn’t much. Still, she adds tension to the movie because when it comes to her marriage with Ocean, the waters aren’t exactly sparkling.

In a terrific supporting role is Cesar Romero as Duke Santos, a creep on the make who plans to put a ring on the finger of Jimmy’s mother, the wealthy socialite, Mrs. Restes (Ilka Chase). Romero proves pivotal to complicating the plot, while Chase herself adds considerably to the film’s comedic charm. She’s as free with her money as she is with providing the movie a level of sophistication it wouldn’t have had without her in it, as well as several big laughs.

Grade: B

  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Technorati
  • Facebook
  • TwitThis
  • MySpace
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Google
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Propeller
  • Slashdot
  • Netvibes