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“Ocean’s 11”-(Original)- {Blu-ray}
Wayne Klein
Studio: Warner Brothers
Release Date:
Special Features:

Commentary by Frank Sinatra Jr. and Angie Dickinson, interactive “Map of Vegas”, “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” clip, theatrical trailers (all in SD)


Con movies are fun. We always like to see the bad guys get taken because it reminds us that there is a sense of justice no matter how fleeting in the world that self corrects greed. Unfortunately for those in charge of companies like Goldman Sachs that got massive bail outs and STILL paid their executives obscene amounts of money to destroy our economy and other companies that accepted bail outs without consequences (yes, W I’m talking about what your administration did—enable the wealthy and greedy to continue to practice business as usual), justice usually never comes. They’re able to sleep soundly at night which makes things worse as you’d expect them to at least lose sleep over it. In the remake by Steven Sondebergh the victims were really bad guys but in the original not-so-much. ***

Of course in “Ocean’s 11” the original Rat Pack version nobody loses any sleep except the bad guys when their world crumbles around them. There were no corporate freebies given to these guys in this film set in Las Vegas as 11 friends (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis, Jr., Richard Conte, Henry Silva, Richard Benedict, Norman Fell, Buddy Lester, Clem Harvey and Akim Tamiroff) who served together decide to pull off a major heist taking out five casinos. ***

“Ocean’s 11” was a who’s-who of Hollywood when it was released including supporting parts played by Cesar Romero and Angie Dickinson as well as Red Skeleton, Shirley McLaine and other well known character actors. Like a lot of films from the time, it’s a time capsule for a time marked by more straight forward values (although stealing from casinos isn’t one that I would consider to be a “value” everyone thinks it is cool in the movie because, well, the House always wins at some point). It’s also a fascinating glimpse into the past of what Las Vegas used to look like before all the current overcrowding and before “CSI: Las Vegas” made it a fixture on TV. ***

“Ocean’s 11” is a well scripted con on the audience as well—it’s really about gathering all fo these major stars and giving them something to do not about creating something that is necessarily great entertainment (although luckily “Ocean’s 11” is entertaining due to a good script and charming performances). I’ll admit to preferring the remake if only because I was completely unimpressed with this film when I would see it on TV as a kid but I suspect part of that is that I’m not part of the original generation this was aimed at. Fans of the film will enjoy seeing this high def transfer with some nice extras and unlike a lot of star filled films of the day, “Ocean’s 11” gets in, does the job and exits gracefully never overstaying it’s welcome as a movie. ---

Image & Sound:

Receiving a top notch looking high def transfer using VC-1 encoding, “Ocean’s 11” looks marvelous with colors that really do pop and detail that is remarkably sharp for a film from the early 60’s. The print used looks quite nice although you will notice occasional bits of minor damage to the film and also that the image quality varies a bit from extremely detailed and sharp to slightly soft which has more to do with how the film was shot rather than the transfer itself. ***

Audio sounds extremely nice with a dialog track that is front and center in the lossless mono mix. The studio didn’t elect to create a faux 5.1 mix which is a blessing as usually those faux sounding 5.1 mixes fail to sound very good. ---

Special Features:

Frank Sinatra Jr. and Angie Dickinson provide a commentary track that was ported over from the DVD. It’s quite informative and Dickinson is, as always, charming and entertaining with trivia about the shoot and the time. ***

“Map of Vegas” is an interactive feature that is ported over to this set and allows film fans to see vintage film clips from the five casinos that are featured in the film and compares it to how they are today. This along with all the other special features are in standard definition. ***

We get a four minute clip from “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” which features Sinatra as guest host interviewing his co-star Dickinson and discussing the making of the movie. It doesn’t look the best but it’s still a nice vintage extra. ***

We also get two theatrical trailers. ---

Final Words:

This is a nice presentation of a vintage, classy flick from the early 1960’s. It’s interesting though because as I watched this I continued to think about how another remake focusing on our recent (and ongoing) financial crisis would play out if made into a movie like this. Would the CEO’s of all the major Wall Street houses be the victims or the con men? Either way, WE got conned but I have the feeling it would be far less fun than this romp from a time when the bad guys could be charming and sometimes they could also be the good guys to the audience as well. All I could think of is that, sadly, the guys who pulled the Wall Street con (or as 10cc in their 1970's song recognized early on "The Wall Street Shuffle") aren't nearly as charming but STILL somehow managed to escape jail time for helping to drive our economy into the ground. These guys, on the other hand, in "Ocean's 11" would have gone to jail and wouldn't have gotten a nice hefty bonus check for driving Vegas into the ground. Interesting contrast and I'm reminded of the old Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times".


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