Directed by Bud Yorkin and written by Norman Leer and based on the stage play of the same name by Neil Simon (making this his first film credit), Come Blow Your Horn stars Frank Sinatra as a man named Alan Baker, a swinging big city Manhattan socialite who is surprised one day when his younger brother, Buddy (Tony Bill), shows up at his door. Alan takes him in but doesn't let him get in the way of his time with the two ladies in his life, Peg (Jill St. John) and Connie (Barbara Rush), the first a rather dim witted type, the second a much more clever troublemaker.
Though it takes him some getting used to, Alan soon warms to having his little brother around and decides to show him the in's and out's of making it with the ladies in the big city. Soon, the student has become the teacher and before you know it Buddy is making it with any woman who catches his eye surpassing even Alan in the ways of love. Alan, on the other hand, is starting to feel the pressure to settle down with Connie that is coming down on him from their father (Lee J. Cobb) who blames his mother (Molly Picon) for taking it too easy on him when he was a kid.
If this is a film that deals in stereotypes and predictability, so be it. If the film feels stagey and sometimes rather flat in terms of style, well, we can live with that too. Overall, this one works, and most of the credit for that goes not to Simon's original story, which does offer some decent humor, but to the cast. Sinatra is very likable here and quite well cast as the man about town. He plays the roll with complete conviction and confidence, and why shouldn't he have? You get the impression sometimes that he's simply playing himself, though when you factor into this equation that Simon's original play was at least partially autobiographical, maybe there's more of him in the character than Frank possibly realized. Tony Bill also does a great job here, transforming from naïve and somewhat innocent into a very worldly man quite quickly and looking very much the part. He and Sinatra have some great chemistry here and together they carry the film. Supporting roles from scene stealing Cobbs as the overbearing European born father and the lovely Jill St. John and Barbara Rush round out the cast nicely, while Picon as the mother, obsessed with housework and ever so dainty also stands out. A fun cameo from Dean Martin as a lil' ol' wine drinking type is amusing as well.
The film doesn't exploit its New York City locations like it could have and had it chose to do that, it probably would have wound up having a lot more visual character than it does. Some flashy locations would have helped make the story look better than it does, but Yorkin at least keeps things moving at a good pace. Though the sets are limited, the set decoration is quite good and the film actually earned an Oscar nomination for this aspect of the production - you just can't help but wish things would take to the streets and hit the clubs more often. In terms of the score, Sinatra sings the opening musical number but doesn't contribute to anything else on the soundtrack. That song is a good one though and it'll stick in your head long after the movie is over.
The first two acts of the movie are stronger than the finish and you can see how this one is going to end from about ten miles away, but getting there is entertaining enough. If this is only fun and amusing on a superficial level, well, sometimes you don't need more than that. If Come Blow Your Horn isn't a classic, it does at least still hold up quite well, despite the fact that most of the characters are fairly shallow, thanks to the efforts of those appearing in front of the camera.
Come Blow Your Horn looks good in this 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer from Olive Films. There could have probably been a bit more cleanup work done to the picture but the print damage that does appear is minimal. Colors look decent even if they're not eye popping while black levels are consistent if not inky black. Skin tones look nice and natural, the film's grain structure is intact and untinkered with and there are no issues at all with any compression artifacts or edge enhancement to note. If this isn't a perfect, pristine transfer it's certainly a very decent one.
Also fine is the movie's English language Dolby Digital Mono track. Dialogue is clean and clear and if there are one or two instances where things get a little shrill, there aren't any serious issues with any hiss or distortion to note. Levels are properly balanced, the score sounds nice and for an older mono mix, there's not much to complain about here.
There are no extras on the disc, just a static menu and chapter stops.
Come Blow Your Horn isn't the movie that Sinatra is going to be remembered for nor is it the best thing that Lee J. Cobb has ever been involved in but it's a fun movie with some effective comedy, a solid leading performance from Ol' Blue Eyes and a bevy of beautiful ladies set to a great. Olive Films could have put a bit more effort into this one, but given its niche appeal, overall it looks and sounds just fine. Recommended, even if it is very stagey.
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.