Friday, December 12, 2014

#99ReasonsWeLoveSinatra - Celebrating Frank Sinatra's Birthday with 1960's OCEAN'S 11

Today is what would have been Frank Sinatra's 99th birthday and it seems like the whole world will be celebrating.  Sony's new classic film channel getTV is playing host with a #99ReasonsWeLoveSinatra party on social media.  The fun started at 3 am ET--the exact time of Frank's birth--and goes throughout the entire day.  All tweets using the hashtag will appear live on getTV's great interactive page dedicated entirely to Frank and many will be retweeted as well.  What favorite moments and memories of Frank will you share?

Though there are many--from the stage to the screen--one of mine has to be 1960's Ocean's 11.  He's perfectly charming in the title role of Danny Ocean, and of course it co-stars many of his friends while showcasing their iconic Rat Pack style.  I share my love for Frank and the film in an article from the GlamAmor Archive below.

To further celebrate his birthday and get into the holiday spirit, getTV is showing Happy Holidays with Bing and Frank tonight at 7 pm PT (with a repeat at 10 pm).  This is a special from The Frank Sinatra Show that originally aired in December 1957, and it's the first time the show has been seen in over a decade.  Bing and Frank sing several holiday standards and close with the classic "White Christmas" while entertaining us with their usual charming banter in between.  You can use this link to find getTV where you live.

Happy birthday, Frank!  Cheers!

New Year's Eve.  Las Vegas.  

Say these five little words to almost any man and watch as you evoke a near Pavlovian rush of adrenaline and excitement.  Credit this to director Lewis Milestone's 1960 classic Ocean's 11, a film that centers on a New Year's Eve heist in Las Vegas orchestrated by some of the most marvelous Men of Style ever.  Of course I'm talking about The Rat Pack--Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop, and Sammy Davis Jr.  Offscreen this close group included some of the greatest singers of all time, known for their slightly tipsy and spontaneous performances in Vegas where one would be booked and the others would follow...all the way up onto the stage.  The marquee at the Sands casino, perhaps their favorite venue in Las Vegas, would even post "Dean Martin - Maybe Frank Sinatra - Maybe Sammy Davis Jr." before a show.  The lifestyle of this band of brothers--girls, gambling, drinking, and what a wardrobe--was already in place when Lawford discovered and bought the film rights to this story.  Ocean's 11 is what shared their style with the world.  

Interestingly, the original Rat Pack goes back to Humphrey Bogart and his New York friends in the 1950s.  Upon returning to LA from one particularly party-packed trip to Vegas, wife (and den mother) Lauren Bacall allegedly affectionately pronounced, "You all look like a damn rat pack."  There is no doubt that they loved to drink for days...the group included the likes of Spencer Tracy, David Niven, and Cary Grant as well as Katharine Hepburn and Judy Garland.  It also originally included Sinatra, who would pick up where the old guard left off and invite Dean, Sammy, Peter, and Joey into the mix for all the fun.  When Bogart died in 1957, the new guard respectfully left the name behind and began calling themselves The Summit, or The Clan, instead.  But journalists would not let "The Rat Pack" go...keeping the name alive and forever associating it with their incredible 1960s style.

Most of the story of Ocean's 11 takes place on New Year's Eve as a platoon of World War II veterans set out to rob five Las Vegas casinos--the Sahara, Riviera, Desert Inn, Sands, and Flamingo--all in the course of one night.  These are no ordinary veterans either...we learn they are part of the decorated 82nd Airborne, which faced the most challenging operations of the war such as the Normandy invasion and Battle of the Bulge.  Thus, we are to understand that Lt. Jimmy Foster (Lawford), Sgt. Danny Ocean (Sinatra), and the 10 others are extraordinarily resourceful men.  Even a caper such as this pales in comparison to those situations they have already survived.  In fact, Danny is accused by his estranged wife Bea (Angie Dickinson) of only being interested in danger.  Nevertheless, the odds are seriously stacked against Ocean's 11 both during and after the heist; we are reminded just who owns these casinos with a cameo by George Raft.  But these are smooth criminals...with a suave style that applies to both the heist itself and how they look while (hopefully) getting away with millions.

Of course the real style story of Ocean's 11 are those iconic suits.  Costume designer Howard Shoup created the clothes for the ladies in the film and also oversaw everything in the production.  But the men's suiting is courtesy of Los Angeles tailor Sy Devore.  Devore was already outfitting the Rat Pack offscreen and making a real impact when it came to changing men's style.  He should be credited with many modernizations in American menswear.  The boxier cut of 1950s suiting was quickly being replaced with those like his that were all cut closer to the body.  Then of course his suits were custom tailored to a T for clients.  In addition, he made his lapels much more narrow...Sinatra, in particular, preferred ones that were exactly 2 1/4" wide.  Devore also used other tailoring tricks that elongated the body, such as buttons that started lower on the jacket and eliminating cuffs on the trousers.  Though the men ranged in size from 5'3" (Davis) to 5'8" (Sinatra) to nearly 6' (Lawford), each one wanted to look his long and leanest.  Even 5'11" Dean preferred that his neckline end a little bit higher to maximize the effect. 

As a result of his design innovations, Devore dressed the hottest men of Hollywood.  Sidney Poitier, Richard Burton, and Rock Hudson were among those befriended by the Rat Pack and who followed their sartorial lead.  Even Lawford's stylish brother-in-law, President John F. Kennedy, chose Sy Devore as his tailor.  Being body conscious, these suits were made of soft wools and silks so they felt as good as they looked.  Even his casual wear was influential and included sweaters through Ocean's 11, such as Joey Bishop's signature cardigans, that alternated between adding exciting pops of color to an outfit to making a monochromatic long, lean silhouette. It is no wonder that every man in the universe still wants to emulate them.  Part of the appeal of these men is also their great friendship; they enjoyed spending time with one another at Sy's store after dining and drinking at the nearby Brown Derby.  Though the original store on Vine Street near Sunset Boulevard is now closed, you can visit Sy Devore now in Studio City where they continue to carry on the great tailor's tradition.

Ocean's 11 and the style of Frank Sinatra and the rest of the Rat Pack are the very essence of cool.   Men's fashion publications like GQ, men's style sites like The Selvedge Yard, and movies ranging from Reservoir Dogs (1992) to Swingers (1996) all show the ongoing influence of their sophisticated style and devil-may-care ways.  How many guys today still take trips to Las Vegas trying to capture some of that quintessential cool?  You'd be hard-pressed to find a man who doesn't idealize the Rat Pack in some way...I mean, these guys made it cool for men to care about clothes.  The images in this photo story only share some of its style, too.  Ocean's 11 is a movie you must watch because the whole thing is stylish, from its Saul Bass credits to mid-century modern locations to that timeless wardrobe.  There's no better way to celebrate the upcoming new year and what would have been Frank's 99th birthday.

Again, happy birthday, Frank!

who also did iconic credits for movies like Vertigo 

Ocean's 11 is shot a lot on location and Joey Bishop takes a stroll in a fur-trimmed trench coat 
through Drucker's in Beverly Hills

Yes, this is how we meet Lt. Jimmy Foster (Peter Lawford) and Sgt. Danny Ocean (Frank Sinatra)...
being well-tended by girls

I love the color orange on men--such as on Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair--
and Frank shows how to do it well with a mohair v-neck sweater

Pool is yet another one of the games these guys play

Planning to rob each of the five major casinos in Las Vegas on New Year's Eve
means nothing but the most sophisticated wardrobe for Ocean's 11

Always in sync, custom-made suits for the guys included details that made each seem taller--
closely cut to the body, narrow lapels, skinny ties, even a higher neck and French cuffs on Dean

Other members of Ocean's 11 included film noir favorite Richard Conte (above, center)
and fellow Rat Pack-er Joey Bishop in one of his signature sweaters

One of the few women allowed into the inner circles of the Rat Pack on and offscreen,
Angie Dickinson looks lovely in a belted navy shortsleeve wiggle dress and matching coat

She has such a striking silhouette that costume designer Howard Shoup
wisely kept accessories and jewelry to a minimum for Danny's classy but estranged wife Bea

Danny arrives just in time to talk to Bea before she leaves

Looking dashing in a salt and pepper wool coat and paisley pocketsquare

To separate the good girls from the bad, Shoup uses leopard trim on the jacket of jilted lover Adele...
played by Patrice Wymore, she was the wife of original Rat Pack friend Errol Flynn

Using bowling as a backdrop for last minute planning meant casual clothes,
which included sweaters for Frank (orange again), Joey, Peter, and even Norman Fell (below, far right)

Another of Bogart's original Rat Pack friends,
The Thin Man's Cesar Romero plays mafioso trouble-maker Duke Santos

New Year's Eve on the Las Vegas Strip

For the night of the heist, Frank wears a beautiful black suit, 
white silk shirt with French cuffs and tab collar (fastened by a gold collar pin), 
and white and black checked tie that appears silver from a distance

New Year's Eve festivities at the various Las Vegas casinos is the backdrop for the caper,
starting with the Flamingo

The Sands is another target for the heist and where much of the action of the movie takes place,
largely because this is where the Rat Pack loved to perform offscreen as well

Trouble for Danny when Adele arrives with her well-dressed entourage
 and spots him when sweeping into the casino

The third casino of the New Year's Eve heist is the Desert Inn

Garbage trucks are an integral part of the caper
as seen here going to the last two hotels of the heist--the Riviera and then the Sahara

Dean performs in the movie on location at the Sahara's Conga Room
in a perfectly tailored tuxedo for New Year's Eve

A bevy of beauties for Sam to choose from
all in dresses by Howard Shoup

The last shot of the movie starts on Sammy Davis Jr. in front of the Sands casino
and gradually reveals the rest of the Rat Pack as well

An iconic shot of the Rat Pack in their closely cut Sy Devore suits 
that would later influence others like Quentin Tarantino for Reservoir Dogs

The final moment of the movie reveals the names of the Rat Pack
on the marquee for the Sands casino


carol fun said...

Just found your blog and I LOVE it... can't wait to read more! Your writing is wonderful and all the pictures are icing on the cake -- thanks!

Silver Screenings said...

Everyone looks stunning in this film! Thanks for including the background re: the men's suits. They always looked très stylish to me, but it wasn't until I read this post that I realized why.

Not that it matters, but every time I see Frank in that scene with the mohair sweater I have to laugh. Not at Frank – he looks fab – but at the memory of an old boss who had a favourite baby blue mohair sweater that was SO incredibly ugly. His wife tried to get rid of it to no avail. However, the boss loved that sweater and it made him happy, so who's to say it wasn't a good investment?

Kimberly Truhler said...

Thanks Carol! Welcome to the site and so glad you're already enjoying it. :)

Kimberly Truhler said...

Thanks Ruth! Glad you enjoyed the extra info on the men's suits--I enjoyed sharing it. I focus on women's style so often that it's fun to also delve into the men's style from time to time, and Frank Sinatra and the boys are perfect examples.

His sweater style is great--not every man can wear orange mohair! lol I absolutely loved your story of your old boss. Hysterical. Wonder if he was trying to tap into the magic of the Rat Pack? ;)

Christian Esquevin said...

Great post Kimberly. This is one of my favorite movies and I like it so much more than the remake. Love your coverage of the men's outfits. It's amazing to think of how small and intimate the old Las Vegas clubs used to be.

Unknown said...

happy birthday, Frank!

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