Ocean’s 11 is a heist film from 1960. Though unlike the remake, the original version of Ocean’s 11 hardly has a plot. It seems to have been more of an extended ad for the Rat Pack’s various Vegas shows. In this film, Danny Ocean (Frank Sinatra) leads his war chums in a plan to rob five casinos in one night.
In my opinion, Ocean’s 11 is not a good film. Luckily, it doesn’t try to be. The film is more of a piece to show the Rat Pack looking sharp, show off their musical talent and advertise 1960s Las Vegas. This film is a snap shot of what it was like to be “cool” in the ultimate era of coolness. It’s all here, the clubs, the Marilyn Monroe look alikes, the glitzy attires and lots and lots of money.
Of course, there can’t be one side without the other and sadly this film also includes the legendary bad treatment of women and African Americans that happened during the 1960s. The actresses are either add-ons or pathetic martyrs (Angie Dickinson), and halfway through the film this quote said by Dino ruins the film: “(If I were elected in public office) I’d repeal the 14th and the 20th; take the vote away from women and make them slaves.” It is hard to believe that even in the 60s it was fine for men to say stuff like this in the mainstream. As for Sammy, he puts up with the garbage man part, a racial slur and the self-centeredness of these guys.
The main problem with the plot other then the fact that there isn’t much of one is that must of the characters motivation to rob these places makes no sense. The only guy who had any motivation is Anthony Bergdorf, the one who had terminal cancer. The rest seemed to be doing well financially, judging by their expensive clothing and their posh digs. Josh Howard might have had a motivation as well, being a poor black trashman. But, this was at the end of the Fifties, and Howard was barely allowed to hang out with the rest of them. Considering the time period, he would have probably gotten screwed out of the money in the end anyway.
The Cast is probably one of the only good things about this film (the other being the music). The Rat Pack is in their element as Sinatra is his normal arrogant self. Dean Martin is relaxed, Peter Lawford is suave and the singing by Sammy Davis Jr is probably the best part of the film. The movie also features Angie Dickinson, who plays Sinatra’s long-suffering wife, Cesar Romero as a shady character who is engaged to Peter Lawford’s mother, and Norman Fell as one of the Eleven.
The film has a great score by Nelson Riddle and the intro/opening credits of the movie were very imaginative for its day. The songs are sung by the Rat Pack, so they are of course the highlight of the film.
When it comes down to it, this film is more of a show of piece then a film that wants to be good. It’s a chauvinistic piece of cinema that defiantly show’s its age and it should only really be enjoyed as a Rat Pack film or a film to show how far we have come since the 60s. All in all, watch the remakes as they for once the superior film.
Ocean’s 11 Cast
Frank Sinatra – Danny Ocean
Dean Martin – Sam Harmon
Sammy Davis Jr. – Josh Howard
Peter Lawford – Jimmy Foster
Cesar Romero – Duke Santos
Angie Dickinson – Beatrice Ocean
Jean Willes – Mrs. Bergdorf