3 Stars

Ocean's 11 (1960) Blu-ray Review


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Yes, Virginia, there was a time when Vegas was not so family-friendly and overflowing with the Cirque du nonsense and glittery non-threatening spectacle of today.  Sure it was seedy and dangerous and so very 50 years ago, but it was full of excitement and various members of The Rat Pack.  Ceremoniously celebrating the Vegas that once was and never will be again, Warner Bros Blu-ray presentation of 1960’s Ocean’s 11 kicks off with the high style of Nelson Riddle’s strings and the visual gloss of title designer Saul Bass with its opening few minutes.  Starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr., Ocean’s 11 might not be the King of Comedy, but, man, does it ever strut like it is.

Danny Ocean (Sinatra) and Jimmy Foster (Peter Lawford) are bored with civilian life.  Used to the high antics of World War II, these two veterans plan a whopper of a heist, planning to rob no less than five casinos in a single night.  The night of choice?  New Year’s Eve.  It’s a risky job, but with their military minds and might, this crew of well-rounded bank robbers – a cast that includes Joey Bishop, Angie Dickinson, Cesar Romero, Richard Conte, Harry Wilson, and Buddy Lester – simply cannot fail.  Each member of the gang has their own reasons for getting involved, some are classier than others and some are strictly in it for the loot – which they hide in a coffin.  Is there anything more gangster than that?  Well, just wait to see what happens next in a series of incidents that mark the inciting events in each film of Soderbergh Ocean’s Trilogy.

Directed by Lewis Milestone, Ocean’s 11 marks the very first of the The Rat Pack films, yet it never announces itself as one during the course of its running time.  The events and its stars are low-keyed throughout, with Sinatra ribbing Martin and his friends while not trying to play upon their history – even though Sinatra shot his scenes during the day and sang at The Sands at night.  There is a wry cleverness to the events depicted throughout the heist set-up, even if they come across as a bit cheesy at times.  I suppose, in retrospect, there’s a certain amount of forgiveness we are to allow even if we shouldn’t; natural charm wins through.

The film’s screenplay – snaggled by the weight (and probably the demand) of its stars – has moments where it hits its stride with a charming enthusiasm only to counteract each stride with a clumsy follow-up scene.  Davis jamming to a harmonica on a small stage outside of a garbage collecting agency is fun, but then to follow it up with Martin loosely keying ‘Ain’t that a Kick to the Head” on the piano seems a bit distracting…if not a little self-serving.  Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.  The humor is often too heavy-handed for its own good and some of the slapstick gags fall flat, but it’s not unwatchable and, for a film filled with self-confessed drunkards and sophisticated boobs, that’s saying a lot.

That’s the territory of the drunkenly rapping and razzing of The Rat Pack.  It’s fun at times, meandering at others.  Not as bad as it could be, nor as focused as it should be, but pleasant enough most of the time.  Constantly referenced in the candy coated halls of popular culture, Ocean’s 11 will most certainly cure whatever sweet tooth craving you might be having this New Year’s Eve just don’t be surprised if you find a cavity or two.

Component Grades
Blu-ray Disc
3 Stars
3 Stars
Blu-ray Experience
3 Stars


Blu-ray Details:

Own it on Blu-ray - November 9, 2010
Screen Formats: 2.39:1
: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German SDH, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish
English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono; French: Dolby Digital Mono; German: Dolby Digital Mono; Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono; Portuguese: Dolby Digital Mono
50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Offical Site: Warnerblu.com

Synopsis: New Year's Eve in Las Vegas. Roulette wheels spin, cards snap, slots chime, champagne fizzes, shows go on... and the lights go out. It's the perfect time to steal a kiss or a $25 chip. But for Danny Ocean (Frank Sinatra) and 10 partners in crime, it's the ideal moment to steal millions. Sinatra and off-screen pals Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop and more play army buddies who scheme to knock out power to the Vegas strip, electronically rig five big casino vaults and raid them all at the same instant. Packed with location-lensed glamour, sweaty suspense, swinging comedy and a stunning twist ending now in gorgeous hi-def, Ocean's 11 is your entertainment best bet.

Presented at an aspect ratio of 2.39:1, the 1080p/VC-1 transfer easily renders the DVD a moot point with its vibrancy and attention to color.  The detail might be a tad washed-out at times, but the black and blue tones are nicely warm and solid.  The flesh tones are also consistent and equally impressive. Warner's DTS-HD Master Audio Mono Soundtrack is satisfying, but a tad tinny in certain places where some dialogue gets lost to the mix of time.



  • Exclusive to the 50th Anniversary Edition of Ocean’s 11 is a commentary track provided by Frank Sinatra Jr. and Angie Dickinson.  These two were recorded separately and you can tell.  It’s an awkward sort of set up that has Dickinson getting lost in her own thoughts and memories and Sinatra becoming too captivated with the finished product.

Special Features:

There really aren’t many featurettes with this release and what you do get are entirely too short.  They don’t add anything to the weight of the film, adding more to the context of a Vegas you may not be familiar with.

  • “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" featuring Sinatra as a guest host (4 min)
  • "Tropicana Museum Vignette" (2 min)
  • "Vegas Map"

Two theatrical trailers