Who's 99 today?
Ol' Blue Eyes.
The Chairman of the Board.
Every bobbysoxer's dream.
Dear Frank has been my favorite singer for a good while now. His voice is absolutely magnificent. I love closing my eyes while listening to him sing--it gives me such a good feeling, like I'm sinking in the best way possible. His tone, his phrasing, his smoothness, it's all gorgeous.
Aside from his singing, though, Frank was an amazing actor. I wish he got more credit for his films. I mean, think about it. Here was this handsome guy who had a beautiful voice that gave him a music career that would've been enough to launch him to iconic status. But then he got the acting bug, and despite what some people say, he took it seriously. Why else would he have fought so hard to play Maggio? Why would he have tried his hand at directing? Anyway, the bottom line is the guy was damn talented.
To honor the birthday boy, below are my Frank Favorites (clever, right?).
In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning.
I love listening to this album when it's gloomy outside. I'm nerdy that way. But hearing Frank be so vulnerable and intense is mesmerizing and incredibly real. You can tell he put a piece of his heart in that record.
The Manchurian Candidate.
There's a lot to love about this film. When I first saw it, I was blown away--it made my heart pound, my jaw drop, and my eyes widen. John Frankenheimer did a beautiful job directing and the script is crazy good. Laurence Harvey, Angela Lansbury, and Janet Leigh are all superb, but Frank is the calm of the storm. His part isn't nearly as showy as Lansbury's controlling mother, but it's every bit as fantastic.
I'll admit that I favor the original Philadelphia Story over this musical, but how can you not enjoy some aspect of this classic? Grace Kelly is great (especially her wardrobe), and seeing Bing Crosby with Sinatra is so delicious. Their number "Well, Did You Evah?" is one of my favorite segments of film ever, and apparently it was Bing's all-time favorite number too. The Cole Porter score is so good, I love listening to it apart from the film.
Swing Easy/Songs for Young Lovers.
I happened upon this deluxe record at a library sale and it's probably the album I love the most. Every song is lovely, and Frank's singing made me a fan of songs I previously thought nothing about. "Just One of Those Things" didn't mean much to me before, but after hearing this recording, I'm a huge fan of it. While the record doesn't dig as deep as his other concept albums like Where Are You? and No One Cares, it's still a masterpiece (in my eyes at least).
The films with Gene Kelly.
I love this duo. Gene and Frank are so similar and so different. You couldn't imagine Fred Astaire with Frank, but Gene fits right in. Since their films came early in Sinatra's career, they really differ from Frank's other movies. He's shy and naive, letting Gene play the wolf of the two. And then there's the dancing. How great is it to see Frank Sinatra tap dancing next to the legendary Gene Kelly?
Frank: The Voice.
James Kaplan's 2010 book is the best thing I've ever read about Frank--hell, it's one of the best books I've read period. I'm always hoping that Kaplan will write a follow-up book because unfortunately this one only covers up until 1954 once Frank has made his comeback with From Here to Eternity. I admire this book, though, because it doesn't deal in annoying Mafia connections or stupid theories. It's all about looking at Frank as a person and an artist. It's just fantastic.
Sinatra in Hollywood.
(I couldn't find a large enough photo of the cover.) Another book I would recommend is one I stumbled upon at a store. As I was complaining before, there isn't much written or said about Frank's film work, but this book tries to rectify that. Tom Santopietro looks at each Sinatra picture, and while he talks about the usual behind-the-scenes stuff, he also looks at what the culture was like at the time and where Frank's professional and personal lives were during the making of the films. Although I wish Santopietro was a little more impartial on his opinions of the movies, I appreciate the book immensely.
This is probably my favorite of Sinatra's films. Kim Novak and Rita Hayworth are so great, and they're wonderful paired with Frank. The Rodgers and Hart score is incredible, too. Has Frank ever been sexier than when he eyes Rita as he sings "There's a Small Hotel"? Other songs like "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" or "I Could Write a Book" are amazing, too. I think it's unfortunate that Rita and Kim were dubbed for "Bewitched" and "My Funny Valentine" respectively, but I love their performances so much, I hardly notice anymore.
Happy birthday, Francis Albert!
(Quick note: when I published this post, it was a little past midnight on December 12th, which is Sinatra's birthday. However, Blogger is weird and dated it December 11th, which I didn't realize until over a week later. Sorry for any confusion or misinformation!)