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The Hollywood Insider Frank Sinatra Movies

A true entertainer, Frank Sinatra did more than just sing throughout his career. In the early thirties, Sinatra was destined to become a movie star. Frank was a true performer. He could do anything from dry comedies to the rigid character studies of drama and crime films. Starting early in musicals, he slowly made his way to be a more prominent star. A legendary entertainer that all of us know even if we aren’t aware! 

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‘On the Town’  

Frank began his acting career slowly when he was put into the popular musicals of the era. His first prominent film was ‘Anchor’s Away’ with Gene Kelly, but when it came time for Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly to direct their first feature ‘On the Town’, they knew who they wanted. Frank Sinatra plays Chip, one of three sailors who are on leave for twenty-four hours in New York City. Together they wreak havoc in the city attempting to find love. His performance is topical, his depth is only for the surface-level entertainment of the era. What makes his performance so captivating is his voice. His magical voice stands out the most as many scenes revolve around the musical numbers. Always a self-conscious dancer, this performance shows his versatility in what he could do as an entertainer. 

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‘From Here to Eternity’ 

In the late 40’s, Sinatra experienced a drought in his professional career. He was becoming known as a diva and most people didn’t want to work with him. The thing that changed the direction of his career was his performance as Angelo Maggio in ‘From Here to Eternity.’ Directed by Fred Zinnemann, the story takes place in the U.S. Army base in Hawaii. The role was only as a supporting actor but Frank understood the character viscerally and campaigned heavily for himself to get the part. His portrayal as a troubled immigrant soldier who suffers from addiction and depression was personal to Sinatra at the time as he was considered done in the industry. His performance would go on to win him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

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‘Young At Heart’ 

Back in the limelight, Sinatra returned to musicals. One of his more elegant performances in a musical is alongside Doris Day in ‘Young At Heart.’Directed by Gordon Douglas, the film is about the lives of three sisters in a musical family whose lives are changed by the arrival of a composer. There is a difference that takes place between this musical and others he had done in the past. ‘Young at Heart’ has a greater depth in character as Sinatra’s Barney Stone becomes more subtle and nuanced. His character is cynical yet charming as he falls in love with Doris Day’s character. The song ‘Young at Heart’ went on to become wildly popular during that time as well. 

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‘Man With the Golden Arm’ 

A must-see from Frank Sinatra that may make you look at him in a different light as an actor is ‘Man With the Golden Arm.’ From Otto Preminger, the film is an independent piece of cinema that often goes unrecognized. Sinatra plays Frankie Machine, an addict who has to come to terms with addiction to figure out his true self. The self-depreciation and lingering anger that was portrayed in ‘From Here to Eternity’ seems to return as he takes on this character study. 

‘Some Came Running’ 

Teaming up again with Dean Martin is the romance drama ‘Some Came Running,’ about a veteran returning home to deal with family secrets and the small-town drama that comes along with it. Directed by Vincente Minnelli, the film also stars Shirley Maclain as a love interest. Sinatra plays Dave Hirsh, someone who longs for love and to cure his loneliness as he navigates life in the town. Sinatra famously had a terrible time on the set of this film, although it turned out to be one of his best performances.

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‘Ocean’s Eleven’ 

As the sixties came in, Sinatra’s prowess in the film industry grew. He was regarded as a star who brought audiences into the theaters to see him. Directed by Lewis Milestone, the film centers around Sinatra’s character Danny Ocean, a heistman who gathers a group of his World War II compatriots to pull off the ultimate heist in Las Vegas. Together, the team of eleven friends rob five casinos in one night. Although this is not Sinatra’s greatest performance, it shows his wittiness and confidence of the era. He felt he was the boss and this performance exudes that. Along with his pals Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Peter Lawford, the “Rat Pack” is on full display.  

‘The Manchurian Candidate’ 

John Frankenheimer is the ‘Manchurian Candidate,’ a film about an American Prisoner of War in Korea who is brainwashed as an assassin for a Communist conspiracy. Sinatra plays the lead, Sgt. Bennet Marco, who is attempting to kill the presidential nominee. His chilling performance seems insipid but for the right cause as his mind is not fully there. The narrative of the film puts Bennet Marco in a confused space which Sinatra handles perfectly. 

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‘The Joker is Wild’ 

In a biopic about a famous comedian in the first half of the 20th century, Sinatra plays Joe E. Lewis. Directed by Charles Vidor, the film follows the comedian throughout his time in the 1930s and 1950s. Sinatra starts as a young singer who gets his talent taken away when his throat is slashed. Making him an alcoholic and compulsive gambler because of his lack of ability to do what he loves, he must find another way to be successful. The film shows Sinatra dealing with the life woes that have been handed to someone.

By Devon James

Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Cinema, TV and Media. An excerpt from the love letter: The Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, We have the space and time for all your stories, no matter who/what/where you are. Media/Cinema/TV have a responsibility to better the world and The Hollywood Insider will continue to do so. Talent, diversity and authenticity matter in Cinema/TV, media and storytelling. In fact, I reckon that we should announce “talent-diversity-authenticity-storytelling-Cinema-Oscars-Academy-Awards” as synonyms of each other. We show respect to talent and stories regardless of their skin color, race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, etc., thus allowing authenticity into this system just by something as simple as accepting and showing respect to the human species’ factual diversity. We become greater just by respecting and appreciating talent in all its shapes, sizes, and forms. Award winners, which includes nominees, must be chosen on the greatness of their talent ALONE.

I am sure I am speaking for a multitude of Cinema lovers all over the world when I speak of the following sentiments that this medium of art has blessed me with. Cinema taught me about our world, at times in English and at times through the beautiful one-inch bar of subtitles. I learned from the stories in the global movies that we are all alike across all borders. Remember that one of the best symbols of many great civilizations and their prosperity has been the art they have left behind. This art can be in the form of paintings, sculptures, architecture, writings, inventions, etc. For our modern society, Cinema happens to be one of them. Cinema is more than just a form of entertainment, it is an integral part of society. I love the world uniting, be it for Cinema, TV, media, art, fashion, sport, etc. Please keep this going full speed.

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