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Rat Pack Revival

Mark Tregoweth
Mark Tregoweth

The Rat Pack Ultimate Collectors Edition, Warner Bros, RRP $39.99

If you can remember the ‘60s then the names Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jnr, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop will be synonymous as the Rat Pack.

A rambunctious troupe of rebel rousing entertainers, the Rat Pack scored big in Las Vegas, television, music and movies and existed long before George Clooney and Brad Pitt appeared in Ocean’s 11.

In their day the Rat Pack optimised what was cool; nearly five decades later their legacy lives on in The Rat Pack DVD box set.

A collection of their three films, Robin and the Seven Hoods, 4 for Texas and Ocean’s 11, this DVD set is likely to evoke nostalgia for anyone old enough to remember them from their heyday and gain new fans from the generations who haven’t experienced their wit and style.

Ocean's 11 (1960)

Roulette wheels spin, cards snap and slot machines chime in Las Vegas on New Years Eve as a group of friends led by Danny Ocean attempt to execute the ultimate heist.

11 buddies from the 82nd airborne reunite 15 years after they leave the army to steal millions of dollars from five Las Vegas casinos. The men take up jobs in the casinos as entertainers, waiters and busboys. Everything goes well until one of their crew has a heart attack after the robbery which leads to one of their relatives becoming suspicious and the need to get the loot out of town in a hurry.

Updated as a successful film franchise more than 40 years after it first premiered, by George Clooney and Co, the original Ocean’s 11 still packs a punch.

Slick with ‘60s style, the humour remains intact, the Rat Pack’s personalities are larger than life and the story is entertaining.

4 for Texas (1963)

Zack Thomas (Frank Sinatra) and Joe Jarrett (Dean Martin) are a pair of rival businessmen battling over who will control gambling in Galveston in the 1800’s. The fierce opponents are forced to unite against a pair of fraudsters; crooked banker Harvey Burden (Victor Buono) and cold-blooded hired-gun Matson (Charles Bronson) who threaten their business interests.

As the action heats up Elya Carlson (Anita Ekberg) and Maxine Richter (Ursula Andress) capture the rivals attention matching them scam for scam.

Blessed with a featherweight plot and only two of the Rat Pack onboard, this film is a disappointing follow up to Ocean’s 11.

Sinatra and Martin appear self indulgent as the films leads. Much of the humour falls flat (even the special appearance from the Three Stooges can’t save the day) and Ekberg and Andress are nothing more than window dressing.

Robin and the Seven Hoods (1964)

A legendary tale receives a ‘60s makeover with the Rat Pack’s take on Robin Hood, Robin and the Seven Hoods.

A Chicago gangster, called Robbo (Frank Sinatra) attempts to hide fifty thousand dollars of ill gotten gains by donating the cash to the Blessed Shelter Orphans Home. What follows is good press and public adulation for the gangster and his hoods.

The swing in public opinion and change of image leads Robbo to open up a mission for the poor and unfortunate souls on Chicago’s poverty row.

On the surface the mission looks after the great unwashed while behind the scenes Robbo and his seven hoods partake in a little gambling and other colourful deeds.

The only true musical of the set of movies, Robin and the Seven Hoods is all star entertainment with all of the Rat Pack on board with ‘60s siren Barbara Rush, Peter Falk (Columbo) and Bing Crosby along for the ride.

A fitting finale to the group’s films, Robin and the Seven Hoods is patchy and predictable but entertaining nonetheless.

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