Monday, August 8, 2011

Sinatra, The Actor

When most people think of Frank Sinatra, they think of him as a singer, not as an actor. I was surprised to find he had a long acting career when I first became a fan. But he was much more than just a singer who could act in musicals and his Academy Award win for From Here To Eternity wasn't pure luck. Unlike the singers today who think they can act and vice-versa, he had real talent.

I feel that a lot of people don't give Frank enough credit for his acting abilities, so I came up with this small list of performances that showcase what he was capable of on screen. If you're not a huge fan his acting, then try watching a few of these movies.

From Here to Eternity (1953) was the movie that really made Frank take acting seriously. He desperately wanted the role of Maggio and after he got it, he did all he could to turn out a fantastic performance. His hard work paid off and he won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for the role. When he won the part, his career was in decline, but with the Oscar both his acting and recording career skyrocketed and he became a superstar.

In Suddenly (1954) Frank Sinatra plays a ruthless criminal mastermind who wants to assassinate the president who is traveling through the small town en route to a fishing trip. He is downright brutal and nasty in the role--an utterly detestable villain who does remind us the it was the army that created him and made him into a killer or maybe deep down, it's just that he was always a killer at heart. An outstanding multi-dimensional performance from Sinatra.

The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) is in my opinion Sinatra's best performance on film. He is absolutely astounding as Frankie Machine, a junkie trying to conquer addiction. He made the role so realistic and incredibly believable. He clearly deserved the only Best Actor nomination of his career for this performance.

Some Came Running (1958) has Frank Sinatra playing a footloose writer returning to his Midwestern home town right after World War II. It's essentially a smart soap opera, with some very deep emotions and Sinatra (and the rest of the cast included) is brilliant. In my opinion, he was perfectly cast.

The Manchurian Candidate (1962) This film features Sinatra's most complex and subtle performance of the 1960s. Sinatra plays Bennett Marco, a Korean War vet who is having troubling nightmares about what happened to him in Korea when his unit was attacked. Unbeknown to the survivors of the unit, they had been taken by the Koreans and transported to China, where they were brainwashed. Marco begins an investigation into what really happened and must stop a murder from being committed.

Though Sinatra often coasted through his roles, especially in the 1960s, he proved that he was much more than the song and dance man in musicals. He really could be a great actor when he wanted to be.

1 comment:

  1. Sinatra seemed to have a natural instinct for storytelling and an ability to put himself inside the story when he sold a song, and inside the character when he played a role.

    Interesting reading. Well done!