The best known and most beloved of all the Rat Pack pictures, Ocean's 11 (later remade by Steven Soderbergh with George Clooney in the lead) stars Frank Sinatra as Danny Ocean, the man with the plan. Danny and his eleven buddies - Sam Harmon (Dean Martin), Josh Howard (Sammy Davis Jr.), Jimmy Foster (Peter Lawford), Tony Bergdorf (Richard Conte), Mushy O'Connors (Joey Bishop), Roger Corneal (Henry Silva), Curley Steffens (Richard Benedict), Vince Massler (Buddy Lester), Peter Rheimer (Norman Fell), Louis Jackson (Clem Harvey) and the old man who came up with the idea, Spyros Acebos (Akim Tamiroff) - used to be in the army together. Ocean gathers the gang up once again so that they can help him and Acebos pull off the heist of a lifetime. Their plan? To blow all the lights in Las Vegas and knock over five casinos at the same time and to hopefully make it out with a cool eleven million dollars in cold, hard cash.
Ocean and his crew encounter a few problems along the way, like Ocean's estranged wife Beatrice (Angie Dickinson), Bergdorf's mother, Gracie (Jean Willes) and her sneak of a fiancé, Duke Santos (Cesar Romero). To complicate matters even more, one of Danny's many ex-girlfriends, Adele Ekstrom (Patrice Wymore), is running around Las Vegas at the same time.
Ocean's 11 is a fun film whose success rests primarily on the shoulders of its ultra cool cast. Sinatra plays it straight here with most of the comic relief coming from the very capable Dean Martin (with drink perpetually in hand) and the equally goofy Davis. While Ol' Blue Eyes isn't in the film as much as he is in some of his other starring vehicles (thanks to the ensemble casting) his performance definitely stands out in the film. A young Henry Silva is memorable as one of the co-conspirators, and it's interesting to see his jovial work here, particularly if you're familiar with him only from the Italian crime films where he specialized in hardboiled tough guy roles. Cameo appearances from Pinky Lee, a young Shirley MacLaine, and Red Skelton don't hurt matters in this department either, this is an exceptionally well cast film and the perfect type of movie for the Rat Pack to tackle.
Well shot on location in the Las Vegas of the time (a very different animal than the current day city of sin), Ocean's 11 is a film that looks as slick as its cast. Plenty of glitz and glamour is one display throughout the picture, with all sorts of swanky interiors used to play up the posh lifestyle that the major players in the film were so intent on enjoying. A few musical numbers pepper the film - notably Sammy Davis Jr. crooning away to 'Ee-OO-Eleven' and Dean Martin doing 'Ain't That A Kick In The Head' not once but twice. Throw in a burlesque act with a snake dancer and plenty of foxy ladies in the background of all the casino scenes and you can see how this is a Rat Pack film that absolutely looks the part.
Even at two hours in length, the film doesn't feel particularly padded or overly long. It moves at a good pace even if much of the running time is made of up dialogue intensive scenes rather than action material (the only action set piece being the bar brawl at the burlesque club). Of course, it all builds up to a fantastic twist ending, one that still plays well today, even if you've seen the film before. While some of the players were better in other solo efforts than they were here, Ocean's 11 remains, for many, the definitive Rat Pack film as it let's the boys play it up big on what was, at the time at least, their chosen stomping grounds.
Ocean's 11 looks pretty good in this VC-1 encoded 2.35.1 widescreen 1080p high definition transfer. Those familiar with the film on DVD will be pleased to see a noticeable upgrade in quality over the standard definition release. Detail is vastly improved and all the glitz and glamour of the old school Las Vegas sets and locations really come to life. Facial detail is exceptional for a fifty year old film while the texture in the different outfits and items in the background looks almost as if you could touch it. There aren't any compression artifacts or edge enhancement problems to complain about and any print damage that you might notice is very minor. Some scenes do look just a little bit noisy and detail isn't quite as sharp and impressive as a more modern film might be able to offer, but this has more to do with some of the softness that's inherent in the original photography rather than the disc itself. All in all, fans ought to be quite pleased with Warner's efforts here, as the movie really looks quite good.
Audio chore are handled by a good sounding DTS-HD 1.0 track, though dubbed tracks are offered in Dolby Digital Mono French and Spanish. Subtitles are provided in English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German SDH, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish. The DTS-HD track on the disc sounds nice and crisp, reproducing the dialogue very nicely and featuring some really well balanced levels. There aren't any problems with any hiss or distortion worth noting and the musical bits sound quite good, if just a little bit flat at times. There are spots where the higher end of the mix is just a tiny bit shrill but once again, this Blu-ray release offers a noticeable improvement over its DVD counterpart.
First up on this disc is a commentary track from Frank Sinatra Jr. and Angie Dickinson. This is a fun and lively track with the two participants having a good time talking about the history of the film and its principal players. Although there are more than a few moments of awkward silence, there are some fun stories here and it's worth a listen if you haven't heard it before.
Up next is an interactive Map Of Vegas that allows you to choose any one of the five casinos featured in the film and access some interesting vintage film clips and interviews with employees and patrons of these fine establishments. It's interesting to see how the Vegas of 1960 compares to the Vegas of today. From there, check out the clip from The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson (3:46) where Sinatra sat in as the guest host and interviewed Angie Dickinson. The two talk about making Ocean's 11 together and share some fun memories from the shoot and also talk about the film's great twist ending. The video quality is so hot but it's nice to see this included here. Rounding out the extras are two theatrical trailers (3:12 and 1:03 respectively, both in anamorphic widescreen), some classy static menus, and chapter selection. All of the extras are in standard definition. None of these extras are new (they all appeared on the standard definition release) but at least none of the existing supplements have been omitted.
Ocean's 11 is a solid heist film that lets the Rat Pack basically play themselves in an environment in which they were obviously very comfortable. The movie is a bit long in spots but it features some really fun performances from the cast, a whole lot of great period Las Vegas cinematography, and it's plenty entertaining. Warner's Blu-ray release looks and sounds considerably better than the DVD release from a few years back and carries over all of the supplements. Recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.