Ocean's 11 (1960)
'Ocean's 11':Sinatra Heads Flippant Team of Crime
A SURPRISINGLY nonchalant and flippant attitude toward crime-an attitude so amoral it roadblocks a lot of valid gags - is maintained through "Ocean's 11," which arrived at the Capitol yesterday. Frank Sinatra, who is the power behind the picture, should have a couple of his merit badges taken away.
The idea is that a bunch of fellows, Danny Ocean's (Mr. Sinatra's) breezy gang of wartime buddies and heroes, are assembled to do a little job of robbing five major casinos in Las Vegas on New Year's Eve. That's all. Ten cheerful, chummy fellows and Mr. Ocean, a stalwart crew, conspire - with Akim Tamiroff as their big boss - to pick up a bundle of dough.
And they do it, too. That's the sad thing. Almost as easy as rolling off a log (or rolling a sequence of "naturals" with loaded dice in a Hollywood film), these eleven guys knock out the power lines, "hit" the cashiers' cages in one fell swoop and rake some $5,000,000 into their convenient little black bags. They're so clever and humorous about it and the casino people are such dopes. Well, why not? Wasn't the crime team schooled together in a lot of Eighty-second Airborne Division "drops"?
That's the way it is: no dishonor, no moral misgivings, no sweat, outside of the normal, natural tension that occurs while the crime is being done. After the whole thing is over and a hijacker moves in to grab the swag, there is no built-in implication that the boys have done something wrong. There is just an ironic, unexpected and decidedly ghoulish twist whereby they are deprived of their pickings and what seems their just deserts.
This is the flaw in the picture-this and the incidental fact that a wholesale holdup of Las Vegas would not be so easy as it is made to look. For the substance is generally amusing - indeed, very funny in spots-the dialogue is cleverly written and the roles are deftly and colorfully played.
Mr. Sinatra is crushingly casual, Mr. Tamiroff is droll with vast despairs and Dean Martin is twitchy with wisecracks as a night-club performer who knows the world. Indeed, all the fellows crackle blithely - Peter Lawford, as a wealthy sybarite; Sammy Davis Jr., as a trash-truck jockey, and Richard Conte, as a cynical ex-con. Ilka Chase, Angie Dickinson and Patrice Wymore are equally cool as some of the girls. Cesar Romero does a smooth job as the hijacker who messes up the job.
Las Vegas looks flashy in color, as naturally it would, and there's plenty of atmospheric detail, such as gaming tables, girls and "one-arm bandits." Lewis Milestone's direction suits the movement of Harry Brown's and Charles Lederer's script, which is entirely centripetal, focusing exclusively on Mr. Sinatra and his gang.
Young people are likely to find this more appropriate and bewitching than do their elders. The latter are likely to feel less gleeful in the presence of heroes who rob and steal.
Bosely Crowther, NY Times, August 11, 1960