Wednesday, June 18, 2008

This Just In- Frank Sinatra, Jr. Almost As Out Of It As His Dad Was In The Eighties and Nineties!

So I'm watching "Sergeants 3", which I gave a preview for here. It's a decent remake of "Gunga Din", but with Sammy Davis Jr. playing the sweet bugler Gunga as a freed slave who bugles and dances (!) named Josh. Watching Davis play such a sycophantic (thanks Mr. Webster!) character made me wonder whether he drew on his own experience being sycophantic to Sinatra in real life.

And hey, Ruta Lee, fellas!

Anyhoos, I'm now watching the dvd with the commentary by Sinatra's son, Sinatra Jr.1 and as he is talking through the opening credits of the film, he sees the director's name and says something along the lines of "John Sturges, a fine director and someone who inherited his talent from his father Preston Sturges, another great director."


You know Preston Sturges, right? I sure do, I talk about him enough, mostly here. Director of the some of the best screwball comedies you ever gonna see? Inventor of kiss-proof lipstick? Playwright? Son of Isadora Duncan's bff Mary Estelle Dempsey? Am I the only one?

Well, even if you do know who he is, I would bet you probably would know he isn't John Sturges' father... unless he had John when he was 13... which is possible I suppose.

Which brings me to John Sturges. He directed three of the great guy movies of the fifties and sixties. The first would be "Bad Day At Black Rock" starring the mighty Spencer Tracy, the awesome-tastic Robert Ryan with support from the diabolical duo2 of Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine.

The next film is "The Magnificent Seven" starring this bunch of losers. Whatever happened to Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Charles Bronson, or Robert Vaughn? Only the world-famous Horst Bucholz and Brad Dexter would go on to become major cinema icons... okay I can't keep this up. If you don't know who the above are, find out through imdb. Moving on...
The original "bunch of guys break out of prison" movie "The Great Escape" stars Coburn, McQueen, Bronson, James Frickin' Garner3, Richard Attenborough, and Donald Pleasance.

Among the great things about these three films is Sturges way with moving throughout his huge casts, making sure everyone gets enough time remain in your mind. And yet he never lets the plot or feeling of ensemble suffer, even in what was probably, initially, a Spencer Tracy vehicle like "Bad Day...".

And the same basically holds true for "Sergeants 3".4 He gives a decent amount of screen time to each of the Rat Pack (even Joey Bishop plays a character who is not like Joey Bishop!) and keeps the pace up, which is something you can't say about the original Ocean's Eleven, as fun as it is.

But Sinatra Jr., who says he worked on this film a little bit, can't even get the basic info right about John Sturges and Preston Sturges. It's like saying Buster Keaton is the grandfather of Michael Keaton and Diane Keaton's uncle. Which is a nice sentiment, but...

Listen I love Sinatra, but I'm old enough5 to remember when he would introduce his version of the Beatles' "Something" as a tribute to the great songwriter John Lennon.

Which is fine, but George Harrison wrote the song.

1. His real name.
2. Man, I should've written for the sixties "Batman".
3. This guy deserves your prayers right now.
4. See I bring it around. Usually.
5. Don't say it.

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