Frank Sinatra MGM Movie Legends Collection (The
Manchurian Candidate/Guys & Dolls/The Pride & The Passion/A Hole In The
Head/Kings Go Forth) + Von Ryan’s Express – Cinema Classics Collection (Fox/Double DVD-Video Set)
C+ (Ryan & Candidate: B-) Sound: C+ (Kings & Pride:
C) Extras: C+ (Ryan & Candidate:
The Manchurian Candidate (1962) A-
Guys & Dolls (1955) B-
The Pride & The Passion (1957) C+
A Hole In The Head (1959) C+
Kings Go Forth (1958) C+
Von Ryan’s Express (1965) B
Sinatra’s film career is often forgotten because his music career is so massive
and inarguable, but it is far more interesting than you might think and goes
beyond his Tony Rome films and only some occasional work. Fox has recently issued (or reissued) six of
his films, five of which are a box set from MGM, which they distribute.
is ironically called The Frank Sinatra
MGM Movie Legends Collection, though none of them were from the original
MGM. Instead, four of the films are from
United Artists and the fifth (Guys &
Dolls) was made and released by The Samuel Goldwyn Company, two catalogs of
which belong to the current, latter day MGM.
We have previously looked at The
Manchurian Candidate, which you can read about at this link:
picture on this remastered edition as aged.
It is also easily the best and most important film in the box. The film was made as Sinatra kept launching
projects with UA that were always interesting, risk-taking and unusual. Stanley Kramer’s The Pride & The Passion is one of those rare epics shot in the
large-frame VistaVision format that was not produced by Paramount. Though not great and a bit uneven, the huge
production co-starred Cary Grant and Sophia Loren in a story about the Spanish
resistance to Napoleon’s invasion led by Miguel (Sinatra) standing in the way
of Captain Trumbell (Grant) with Loren caught in the middle.
letterboxed 1.66 X 1 image is not bad, but from an old analog master. Released in three-strip dye-transfer
Technicolor 35mm prints and the large-frame VistaVision format even comes
through in this older DVD and transfer. Too bad there are detail and depth limits, but
when this comes out on Blu-ray, watch out.
Kings Go Forth was a war drama directed by
Delmer Davies with Sinatra and Tony Curtis vying for Natalie Wood, a beautiful
young lady with a secret in an ugly world beyond the battlefield. This was risk-taking drama at the time and
despite some overall problems with the film, is a plus of a project for all
involved. This is the only film in the
set that is both 1.33 X 1 block style and in glorious black and white.
A Hole In The Head was intended as a high class
family comedy drama project that was so compelling; Sinatra got no less than
Frank Capra to come out of retirement.
With a great cast including Eleanor Parker, Carolyn Jones, Thelma Ritter
and Keenan Wynn, while the film has the even more famous than it itself for
launching yet another Sinatra standard: the hit song High Hopes. The Top 30 hit
also won the Best Song Oscar and is one of those few songs that work with
children background singers. Shot in
CinemaScope, it is here in an older letterboxed transfer and though depth and
detail suffer, it looks good.
leaves Guys & Dolls, one of the
great triumphs of Samuel Goldwyn in his reign as an independent one-man studio
producer. He paid then big bucks for the
stage musical, hired Joseph L. Mankiewicz to write and direct, retained the
original score, had Michael Kidd’s great choreography, shot the film in
CinemaScope (here letterboxed in its original, wider 2.55 X 1 early
configuration, looking good enough for an older video master) and the result is
one of the most interesting and beautiful of all Hollywood widescreen
musicals. Marlon Brando, Vivian Blane,
Jean Simmons and a great supporting cast join Sinatra for a film about
hustling, surviving and making it big in New York. Though it does not get enough credit for
this, this early hit helped make widescreen filmmaking legitimate and
separately is Fox’s reissue of Sinatra’s more powerful, enduring and
action-packed WWII thriller Von Ryan’s
Express. Mark Robson directed this Saul
David-produced hit about the tile character captured by the Nazis and instantly
planning a grand escape for his 400+ POW Allies in the middle of Central Italy
circa 1943. The Wendell Mayes/Joseph
Landon screenplay adaptation of the David Westheimer book is very masterful and
the cast including Trevor Howard, Edward Mulhare, Brad Dexter, John Leyton,
Adolfo Celi, James Brolin and more. The
anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 CinemaScope shot transfer looks about the same
as the old DVD, which was not bad, while the Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound is
decent. Extras include isolated music
score by the great Jerry Goldsmith and with audio commentary in the silent
sections by Jon Burlingame, Lem Dobbs and Nick Redman. DVD Two adds three featurettes on the making
of the film (Reliving The Adventures Of
Von Ryan’s Express, The Music Of Von
Ryan’s Express, Hollywood & Its War Films) all wroth seeing, a great
piece on Jerry Goldsmith’s legacy as a composer, original Spanish theatrical
trailer, stills and TV spots. Sinatra
did radio spots for the film and for Blu-ray, I hope Fox finds them.
films on the MGM box are Dolby Digital 2.0 mono only, except Candidate and Dolls, upgraded to Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes which thin out the
original sound. Candidate was monophonic to begin with and with new audio and audio
restoration advances, could be further upgraded for Blu-ray. Dolls
was originally 4-track magnetic stereo, is the best sounding of the six titles
here and has an upgrade that is much older.
Again, new advances could bring out even more of the original fidelity
of the master music recordings of the film.
Except for all the extras on Candidate,
the only extra on the rest of the MGM titles are only single trailers.
- Nicholas Sheffo