Not for nothing, as his Hoboken crew might say, was Frank Sinatra called “The Chairman of the Board.” Arguably the 20th century’s most admired vocalist and an abiding icon of cool, Sinatra held court with elegant but unassailable authority. Much more than a singer who dabbled in acting, he was an accomplished performer, earning many accolades including the Academy Award for his dramatic work and even taking a laudable stab at directing. Like his idol Bing Crosby (with whom he occasionally shared scenes), Sinatra’s stage presence translated well to the screen. He was a charismatic star who took a methodical approach to the roles that challenged him; his preparedness evident in the fact that a second take was seldom necessary. George Axelrod, who wrote and produced The Manchurian Candidate, called him “one of the best screen actors in the world . . . lyrically sensitive . . . magic.” To mark the centennial anniversary of Sinatra’s birth, we’re doing it his way, offering a selection of his film work that displays the range and intensity of his talents.
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Sinatra and Gene Kelly reteam for an enchanting turn-of-the-century musical about baseball’s early days, buoyantly directed by Busby Berkeley and highlighted by Frank’s rendition of “The Right Girl for Me.”
In Vincente Minnelli’s chronicle of small-town hypocrisy, Frank Sinatra gives one of his most textured portrayals as an embittered ex-GI who returns to his Midwestern hometown to write the next chapter of his life.
Sinatra is at his swaggering best as Joey Evans, a nonchalant singer and womanizer who meets his match in his patroness (Rita Hayworth) in this breezy adaptation of Rodgers & Hart’s top-flight musical.
Before Steven Soderbergh made it a franchise, Oscar winner Lewis Milestone helmed this glitzy, good-natured time capsule featuring the entire Rat Pack as part of an 11-man gang planning to heist five Vegas casinos at once.
The lone directorial effort by Sinatra is a tense and intelligent drama about the crew of a downed World War II plane, stranded on a remote island in the Pacific and compelled to forge a tentative piece with a Japanese platoon.
Nothing is as it seems in John Frankenheimer’s quintessential Cold War thriller, as Sinatra must decipher the inscrutable acts of a decorated war hero with ties to a McCarthy-like demagogue.
Sinatra gives an astonishing, Oscar-nominated performance as Frankie Machine, a heroin-addicted drummer released from prison who resolves to pick up the pieces of his life. Restored 35mm print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive.
Sinatra rebounded from a professional slump and ensured his place on the A-list for the rest of his life with his Oscar-winning turn as Maggio, a cocky GI stationed at Pearl Harbor in the days preceding the invasion.
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