Ocean's Eleven

Ocean’s 11 (1960) | TGG Old Classics?…Newly Reviewed

That’s right, Gini’s back and we’re hitting the big time because she’s playing for high stakes and taking on the penultimate (comedic) heist movie…

You guessed it, the time has come to head to Las Vegas with Frank and the boys for 1960’s Ocean’s 11

Gini here, and it’s True Confession Time:

I am not much of a girl for Frank Sinatra. My family were all big Dean Martin fans and always felt, and still do, that Dino’s voice was a lot better than Sinatra’s.

However, I can stand Sinatra in some movies. Can I stand him in this one? Let’s find out…

Ocean’s 11 is, supposedly, a heist movie. It stars the Rat Pack – Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford, and Sammy Davis, Jr. – and a bunch of their other pals. This movie was made, according to Turner Classic Movies (TMC), because everyone was in Las Vegas at the same time working in the various lounges and main stages of the various casinos; so they did their acts then filmed. A great way for everyone to get a double payday.

The plot is simple – former WWII buddies from the same airborne group get together and plan to rob five Vegas casinos in one night, but complications arise.

The movie starts slowly because what it’s intent on doing is, establishing who everyone is. It’s, naturally, vital to show that Sinatra and Lawrence are cool, hep cats the kittens can’t resist. It’s vital to show what everyone else involved – and we’re talking over a dozen people, now – is doing for work or whatever. We need to see that Sinatra’s got a faithful wife – Angie Dickenson (wasted) – even though he’s an unfaithful jerk.

Note that I’m not using the character’s names. There’s no reason. They never stop being the actors – it’s the actors “acting” as someone else, not inhabiting characters – and their characters have, literally, no depth.

Every one of the actors in this film – cameo actors included – have all proven elsewhere that they’re good at their craft. But not here. Perhaps it’s not their faults – the script is terrible (and it took 5 people to create this thing), so that could be part of why the acting is so bad. Or they were all lazy and phoning it in, which I’m sure is the other part of why it’s so bad.

The so-called plan? It’s a smash-and-grab job that, somehow, eleven dudes are going to manage in one night. By blacking out the town for a little while. Whoo-ee! I have to assume that even in 1960 this didn’t sound wise, fun, funny, or daring.

Heist movies are supposed to be fun and thrilling. We need to see an intricate plan or be fooled along with the mark, and it needs to be engaging and entertaining along the way to the end, where we find out if the heist is going to be successful or not. I love heist movies. Normally.

The heist in this movie works only because the movie says it does and because, somehow, in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, Vegas had zero security on its back doors and it was hella easy to turn off the lights to an entire city without any extra equipment or skills. (I’ll wait here while those who were alive in those days and anyone who’s ever done the slightest research on Vegas security measures laughs their heads off.)

Of course, there’s more to it. Lawrence – cast as a rich, lazy, ne’er-do-well who is involved because, as he whines, he needs to prove himself to his rich mummy (clearly NOT by getting a job or starting a business or anything) who gives him money in order to live (he’s not ashamed of this, of course, and no one else is, either) – is a weak point. Not because he’s clearly a rich loser, but because Mom’s got a new husband (Cesar Romero, actually acting) who’s shady and who catches on to the scheme. Meaning the 11 have to figure out how to fool Romero so they don’t have to give him half their take. Or get arrested.

How these eleven people managed to be a crack unit in the War and then go on to be successful in life after is hard to determine. But the script says they were a great group and so we much choose to believe it. Or not, in my case.

There is one point of social commentary, presumably because Sammy Davis, Jr. insisted upon it. Everyone else is doing something great. He’s stuck as a garbage truck driver. It helps the scheme, and Davis, Jr. makes some good points about prejudice and injustice. Two minutes of this, however, doesn’t make up for the other 125 boring, unpleasant, stupid minutes.

Because I sincerely doubt anyone’s going to waste their time seeing this turkey (just in case, SPOILER ALERT), I’ll tell you how it ends. Only the widow of one of the guys gets any of the money, and it’s exactly what her husband’s insurance should have paid. Otherwise, we get a “crime doesn’t pay” ending. They guys aren’t caught, but they aren’t rich, either. They’re all the same losers they were before they started this plan. In other words, it was a total waste of time – theirs and the viewer’s.

Ocean’s 11 is one of the stupidest, laziest, unfunniest comedies I’ve ever seen. Spare yourself and don’t bother. (Unless you, like we, do a Bad Movie Night event. And even then, choose something else, because a Bad Movie should at least be fun or entertaining in some way.) I’ll tell you what to watch instead a bit later. Hint: It’s the proof that remaking a terrible movie is a great idea with the right people involved.

1 star out of 5

(because anything with Dean Martin in it gets at least one star…otherwise, this would get a zero)

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