A Conversation for Ask h2g2

What do you think of Frank Sinatra as an actor?

Post 1

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me

I confess to having some fondness for "Young at Heart," in which Frank Sinatra plays a cynical music arranger. His dark side is close to the surface, as it was for him in real life as well.

I've just watched "Guys and Dolls" on Youtube (yes, you can watch all 2.5 hours of it for free there). I don't think Sinatra showed any great acting prowess, but to be fair he was there mostly to sing and not screw up too badly, letting Brando and Stubby Kaye et al carry the ball.

I have seen "On the Town," in which Sinatra's acting isn't particularly memorable. But maybe that's just me?

He didn't win any Oscars for his part in "Manchurian candidate," but I watched spellbound, awed by his performance. Was there one good role in Sinatra, or was he determined to win kudos in this very powerful film that anyone could have been proud to be associated with?

Of all the films that Sinatra made, the one that I think was perfect typecasting was "Pal Joey."

Now it's your turn, H2G2 community. Was Sinatra's desire to be on the silver screen a bad move, or a cynical play for more fame and money, or something else?


What do you think of Frank Sinatra as an actor?

Post 2

coelacanth

It's been a long time since I watched, but I do remember being very impressed by Sinatra in the Otto Preminger film The Man with the Golden Arm, where he played a drug addict just out of prison.
smiley - bluefish


What do you think of Frank Sinatra as an actor?

Post 3

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me

So many films to see, so little opportunity! I didn't see that one.

Thanks for commenting anyway.

Sinatra didn't have a good time in early life -- scarring from the forceps that were used to deliver him, childhood taunts about his scars, and growing up in a tenement. There's no guarantee that this adversity would damage him (some people overcome such things), but he must have had a stubborn "I'll show them what I'm made of" streak.

He took on challenges like the role that you mention. He willed himself to learn continuous breathing when singing (usually a technique of instrumentalists), and seemed to act best when his characters faced adversity (c.f. "Manchurian Candidate," which he did in one take, because the intensity of his acting took too much out of him to repeat). He also fought with his mother, and maybe had his own version of her determination to go her own way. Look at me, the amateur psychologist! smiley - winkeye

To be honest, I kind of admire him on a lot of levels. There are other people, though, who don't want to think about him at all, which I can also understand. He's gone to the Great Beyond, so no one will run into him by accident anywhere.

It seems odd to me that so few movie songs introduced by Sinatra are prominent among his hits (I can think of "High Hopes" and "Young at heart"). He did movie musicals where he reprised roles that others had doe on stage ("Pal Joey," "Guys and Dolls," "On the town"). He had hits with show tunes that he never sang onstage or in a film.

He was one of a kind.



What do you think of Frank Sinatra as an actor?

Post 4

Baron Grim

His son however... smiley - facepalm


What do you think of Frank Sinatra as an actor?

Post 5

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me

An intelligent son, but not much of a singer. In an interview, he mentioned studying piano and songwriting. Maybe that's where his strength was.


What do you think of Frank Sinatra as an actor?

Post 6

Baron Grim

I saw him on TV decades ago and I was just repulsed. He was smarmy and overly brash, like he deserved every ounce of respect merely for being his father's son, like a spoiled son of a low rent mafia don.

Yes, his singing was moderately talented but he was still just covering his father.

It was like watching a '70s lounge singer who considers his shows at the Best Western on Interstate 9 the equivalent of playing the main stage at Caesar's.


Maybe he's more humble now, maybe he's changed, but that first impression stuck with me.


What do you think of Frank Sinatra as an actor?

Post 7

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me

He died in 2016.

He left three children. Or four children. Two sons, two daughters. No one can be sure, as none of them were legitimate. He acknowledged only one of them. His father apparently had an illegitimate daughter, but he also had children by the woman he married.

So far, only one of Frank Senior's grandchildren has produced offspring (one of Nancy's daughters).

The grandsons could still become parents. Maybe some of the granddaughters could, too. or not. Not everyone needs to reproduce in a world of seven billion people.

But if looks as if the Sinatras are pretty passionate, so love children are possible.




What do you think of Frank Sinatra as an actor?

Post 8

You can call me TC

I haven't seen any of his films for ages and I couldn't really say anything about his acting, but my Dad always said he (Sinatra) couldn't sing.

On closer inspection, I think he was right. But there is more to entertainment and showmanship than hitting the right notes. He must have had something or he wouldn't have had so many fans.


What do you think of Frank Sinatra as an actor?

Post 9

Baron Grim

Also consider his fame as a singer was earned in his youth, when he was portrayed like this on Looney Tunes.

http://youtu.be/mLeXQtsohSI

smiley - winkeye


What do you think of Frank Sinatra as an actor?

Post 10

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me

"his fame as a singer was earned in his youth" [Baron Grim]

Most singers rise to prominence in their youth. (Leonard Cohen may be an exception, but he had the excuse that he started as a poet, and only later decided that his poems could be turned into songs).

Here's a link to his first album, "The voice of Frank Sinatra" (1946)
He would have been 30 or 31 when he recorded it. I like his rendition of "Someone who'll watch over me." He is singing in the style popular in the mid-40s (think Mel Torme or Perry Como). His actual voice sounds a bit like that of Pat Boone here.

It was a little later (the late 40'/early 50s) that he developed his own jaunty, unique style, the style that made his voice instantly recognizable even if you hadn't heard him singing a particular song before. And by the mid-sixties his voice was getting to be a a bit over the hill, though the style carried him for a while longer.


What do you think of Frank Sinatra as an actor?

Post 11

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me

Here's the link to Sinatra's first album:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZSguuRcp8k&list=PLHPjaDDxEseskr1oa50uepfNNuASl2c1b&index=4


What do you think of Frank Sinatra as an actor?

Post 12

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me

" my Dad always said he (Sinatra) couldn't sing. On closer inspection, I think he was right. But there is more to entertainment and showmanship than hitting the right notes. [TC]

I think that both of you are partly right. Of the songs that pretty much everybody sang, Sinatra rarely had the definitive version. But by the early Fifties, he had acquired a certain something in terms of a unique style. He sounded like no one else, and his phrasing and diction and breath control were impeccable. From that time on, he made such a strong mark on his best material that other singers were less likely to record them. This is just my theory, and I will bow to people who know more than I do.

Sinatra maintained that, among singers of his generation, Vic Damone had the best "pipes", but Damone didn't inspire the passion that Sinatra did.

But I posed my question about his acting because I assumed (possibly wrongly) that Hollywood became interested in Sinatra because he was a popular singer. Hollywood made lots of money from movie musicals in the 1940s, so Sinatra might had looked like a potential gold mine for them. Indeed, his first film, in 1941, showed him as an uncredited singer in Tommy Dorsey's band.

but then the darn guy went and began thinking of himself as an actor in the most serious nonmusical films!
"From here to eternity" (1953) and "The Manchurian Candidate" (1962) are examples.

I have trouble making Sinatra fit in a box.




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