The Rat Pack

Ocean’s 11 is the original heist. Although I grew up knowing about the Ocean’s trilogy, most people forget the idea dates back to 1960. The Rat Pack was an entertainment group consisting of famous Las Vegas entertainers like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop. The movie is mostly an excuse to bring everyone together to make some money, sing some songs, and wear well-tailored suits. It was also the second to last film for prolific director Lewis Milestone. I didn’t live through the 60’s, so I only knew so much about the ensemble cast.

Sinatra plays World War II paratrooper Danny Ocean who plans a major heist with his fellow comrades. Together they rob 5 casinos on New Year’s Eve. I tried as hard as I could to follow all 11 members. Martin gets a chance to sing “Ain’t That A Kick In The Head” as Sam Harmon. Davis Jr. entertains and has an important role in transporting the money as Josh Howard. Lawford is rich mama’s boy Jimmy Foster. Richard Conte has a heart condition as Tony Berdorf.

Bishop plays Mushy, Henry Silva plays Roger, Buddy Lester plays Vince, Richard Benedict plays Curly, Norman Fell plays Peter, and Clem Harvey plays Louis. Not to mention Angie Dickinson as Ocean’s wife or Akim Tamiroff as an unofficial racketeer for the team. George Raft, Red Skelton, and Shirley MacLaine all have fun cameos, but everything feels aimless. It was a good opportunity to see Caesar Romero without Joker makeup as the undoer of the team’s heist. It’s obviously wrong what they’re doing, but their comeuppance feels like a ripoff. Ocean’s 11 is only worth it for the Rat Pack.

1. Ocean's 11

Ocean’s 11

6 thoughts on “The Rat Pack

  1. Another of my favorites I first saw when I was young. Despite the outlandish storyline, it’s still a very entertaining story, and The Rat Pack have great chemistry together. Part of the reason the film got made was to get Sinatra to patch up his relationships with Peter Lawford and Sammy Davis Jr., both of whom The Chairman of the Board had wrongfully snubbed. Funny enough, when Lawford pitched the story to Sinatra, he said to him, “Forget the picture, let’s pull the job.” Originally the Akim Tamiroff character was supposed to be a member of the Mafia, but someone made the comment a Mafioso wouldn’t put up with all the jokes and wisecracks Danny Ocean pulls on him. so they changed it; Sinatra’s (at the time) rumored friendships with real mobsters caused the change as well. BIG SPOILERS: The original ending was supposed to be that the 11 managed to sneak out of Vegas in a small plane with all the money, but that the plane would crash, killing them all and burning the money. Again, tests showed this would be too dark for audiences and changes were made. I personally would’ve preferred the original plane crash ending cause it would’ve been the ultimate irony and comeuppance.

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