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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Ocean's 11 (1960)
Ocean's 11 (1960)
Warner Bros. // Unrated // January 8, 2002
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 5, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

When director Steven Soderberg originally announced that he intended to remake the famed "Rat Pack" caper film "Ocean's 11", many were initially skeptical. The original film does offer enough style to spare and good performances from such legends as Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr., but the film as a whole suffers from some creaky plot points and a slow first hour.

Soderberg and writer Ted Griffin obviously saw an opportunity and capitalized upon it. The result is, in my opinion, one of 2001's finest; a film that walks the line between art and entertainment - intent on engaging the audience, but cool enough to remain hiply detached from the events of the film. The original picture contains a similar general plot, but is considerably different in the details. Sinatra stars as Danny Ocean, who, as the film begins, promptly goes about rounding up a crew totaling eleven to rob five Vegas casinos.

The original picture's main problem is that the first hour starts to stall out in a few places as Ocean rounds up his gang. In the remake, the film opens quickly and starts moving - everything is part of the overall arc of the heist. A few scenes early on in the original seem like a bit too much standing around, bringing the pace down. When the Vegas heist actually starts in the original, the scenes are entertaining and nicely done, but they don't click together as enjoyably as the remake's.

While the original may not be as quick or clever as the remake, it does hold similar appeal in the fact that the film was able to get a great deal of star power together for a movie that functions nicely as basic entertainment.


The DVD

VIDEO: "Ocean's Eleven" is presented by Warner Brothers in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Warner's effort is a bit mixed - when the presentation looks good, it looks very good. Yet, there are one or two spots throughout the film that look noticably less pleasing, especially the opening few minutes, before the film starts looking decidedly better. Sharpness and detail are quite good, as the film appears crisp and well-defined, with no unexpected soft spots. William Daniels's ("My Man Godfrey") terrific widescreen cinematography is preserved well here.

Flaws are present, but I didn't find them extremely distracting or objectionable. The opening credits are definitely dirty, but after that, the rest of the film looks suprisingly much cleaner, as only a few stray specks and the occasional mark are visible during much of the remainder. Other than the minor wear, there are a few other problems: a couple of traces of shimmering on clothes and a few instances of minor edge enhancement, as well as one bad splice (a tiny bit after an hour in) in the print used. While it's unfortunate that the picture couldn't be more consistent, the presentation was satisfactory more often than not.

Colors still looked solid throughout the film, appearing natural and not faded or otherwise problematic. While not without some noticable imperfections, I thought this was a good looking presentation nonetheless.

SOUND: "Ocean's 11" is presented in mono. The film's audio is nothing remarkable, but considering the age, the general quality is quite pleasing. The film's score still sounds crisp and lively, while dialogue and sound effects sound a bit rough at times, but not too bad - not too bad at all.

MENUS: The menus are very basic and rather bland, but do have the score playing in the background.

EXTRAS::

Commentary: This is a commentary from Angie Dickenson as well as Frank Sinatra, Jr.. I believe original announcements for the title listed an additional commentary from the director of the remake, Steven Soderberg, but that track unfortunately does not appear here. It would have been nice to hear Soderberg's perspective on the original, but this track is still mildly enjoyable, if not particularly packed with information. Although Sinatra, Jr. and Dickenson do provide some decent information about the production and behind-the-scenes information when they do speak, there are also some rather lengthy pauses of total silence on the track. Still, fans might enjoy some additional facts about the film.

Also: Cast and crew bios, interactive map of Vegas with additional short clips, two trailers (I'm suprised a trailer for the remake wasn't included) and a clip from Sinatra hosting the Tonight Show (which is in really bad condition).

Final Thoughts: While I wouldn't consider it a great picture, "Ocean's 11" at least does have some entertaining moments and good performances from the Rat Pack. Those who are fans should be fairly pleased with this new DVD release: although the image quality does have some noticable flaws, the majority of the picture does look fairly good and the mono soundtrack holds up well. The supplements are a mixed bag, but the low retail price makes this worth considering by those who are already fans or those curious about the original after seeing the remake.

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