Recently, I had the opportunity to review the intriguing, experimental Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There. Heading into the experience I knew I was going to be at a disadvantage. Why? Because, while I am familiar with a little bit of Dylan's music, I am very much ignorant when it comes to his life. The movie took a very different approach to the material, presenting us a Dylan that was broken down into six different incarnations, with none bearing the name of Bob Dylan! It was lyrical in execution, if a little tough to crack considering my lack of knowledge in the area.
What does this have to do with Sinatra at the Movies? Do you really need to ask? Sinatra is another one of those artists with whom I have had very little exposure. When I got into music, I was fed a steady streak of Def Leppard, Nirvana, and Metallica, nary a Sinatra, a Martin, or a Crosby in sight.
The same could be said about my exposure to Sinatra's films. I have seen The Manchurian Candidate, and I am sure I saw From Here to Eternity at some point, but that is about it, so I don't even have that to fall back on as I listen to this collection. Kind of makes me a less than ideal choice to be reviewing it right? Well, yes and no. If you are looking for a new take on Sinatra using plenty of examples from his songbook, you'd best look elsewhere. However, what I can bring to the table is a perspective from a newbie, someone who is getting a fresh listen with ears that are open to a new experience. In fact, I had been meaning to get some Sinatra in my collection for some time (my Nana would be proud).
I will say that Sinatra at the Movies is not exactly the best place to start for newbies, myself included. Why not? For one thing, it is not really a hits collection. For someone like Sinatra, I think it would be best to start with the hits and then expand into the catalog. So, perhaps this would be better as a second or third step rather than the first. Still, when it comes to Sinatra, it becomes apparent early on that it is hard to end up mired in a bad chunk of tunes. Seriously, his voice is absolutely amazing, so much so that it is hard to go wrong.
This collection centers on songs that Sinatra sang for films in which he appeared, with a further focus on the 50's era tracks during his run with Capitol Records. It should be noted that, as good as these songs are and how great Frank's voice sounds, these are not the recordings that appeared in their respective films, rather they are the arrangements found from other collections (I have not found out the origins of these versions).
All of that said, this collection is chock full of great sounding tunes. While there are a few that seem to be a notch or two below classic status, you can pretty much start this up anywhere and find something to like.
I loved the way the album gets off to a quick start with the upbeat, catchy "(Love is) The Tender Trap" from The Tender Trap. There is just something about the snappy way that Frank sounds that is absolutely infectious, helping set the tone even for a newbie, such as myself.
Other highlights that jumped out at me include: "Young at Heart" from Young at Heart, "All of Me" from Meet Danny Wilson, "The Lady is a Tramp" from Pal Joey, "Chicago" from The Joker is Wild, and "I Couldn't Sleep a Wink Last Night" from Higher and Higher. At the other end of the spectrum, I did not particularly care for "High Hopes" from A Hole in the Head, I think it is the backing singers that grate on me.
Who this is targeted at, I am not sure. For the most part, you can find these songs on countless other collections, meaning that if you are a fan, you probably have all of these songs already. The newbie? Not likely, as newcomers would be more likely be attracted to the words "Best" and "of." I guess the target would be me, the newbie with a cinematic addiction, luring me away from the greatest hits collections with the use of the word "movies."
Bottomline. In conclusion, this is a good collection, no matter how you want to slice it. I still think I would have been better served starting with a hits collection before moving onto this, but there is no denying the quality of the songs as well as listening to that superb voice. I have to recommend this collection, pick it up in conjunction with a hits collection and spend an evening with one the all-time greats.
01. "(Love Is) The Tender Trap" from The Tender Trap – 2:58
02. "From Here to Eternity" from From Here to Eternity – 2:59
03. "I Love Paris" from Can-Can – 1:50
04. "How Deep Is the Ocean?" from Meet Danny Wilson – 3:14
05. "I Could Write a Book" from Pal Joey – 3:53
06. "All the Way" from The Joker Is Wild – 2:52
07. "Young at Heart" from Young at Heart – 2:50
08. "Not as a Stranger" from Not as a Stranger – 2:46
09. "All of Me" from Meet Danny Wilson – 2:08
10. "High Hopes/Eddie Hodges" from A Hole in the Head – 2:42
11. "The Lady Is a Tramp" from Pal Joey – 3:15
12. "Monique" from King's Go Forth – 3:18
13. "Chicago" from The Joker Is Wild – 2:12
14. "Three Coins in the Fountain" from Three Coins in the Fountain – 3:06
15. "(I Believe) It Happened in Brooklyn" from It Happened in Brooklyn – 2:31
16. "Wait for Me (Johnny Concho Theme)" from Johnny Concho 2:51
17. "C'est Magnifique" from Can-Can – 2:01
18. "I Couldn't Sleep a Wink Last Night" from Higher and Higher – 3:25
19. "Just One of Those Things" from Young at Heart – 3:15
20. "To Love and Be Loved" from Some Came Running – 2:55