Amusingly, the troubled production seems to have been plagued by bad relationships. Frankie was there only so that he could try to rescue his failing marriage with Ava Gardner. Grant was there to get away from his disastrous merger with actress Betsy Drake — all the while pursuing his co-star Sophia Loren; his courting of the Italian sexpot was so neurotic, that it lead her to her first of two marriages with producer Carlo Ponti (a bond that was later annulled). Meanwhile, the husband and wife screenwriting team of Edna and Edward Anhalt were in the process of divorcing — hence 20000 Leagues Under the Sea's Earl Felton was brought in to organize the mess on paper. Unfortunately, nobody was able to coordinate the chaos that occurred off the pages.
OK, I've said entirely too much about that movie. Time to set my sights on Disc 2 of Volume 1, the oh-so-much better Kings Go Forth from 1958. Set in Southern France towards the end of World War II, Kings Go Forth not only finds Frank in the top-billed role as 1st Lt. Sam Loggins, but also gives him the chance to narrate the account. Loggins recounts his first encounter with young, fearless Corporal Britt Harris (Tony Curtis), whom he recruits as his radioman. From the start, Loggins feels something peculiar about spoiled rich kid Harris. Eventually, the two form a bond of sorts — a semi-friendly union that is put to the test once both parties fall for the same girl: Monique (Natalie Wood), an French-born American lass with an ancestry that was almost taboo at the time.
Helmed by Delmer Daves, the man who brought us several Cary Grant vehicles (An Affair to Remember and Destination Tokyo) as well as Demetrius and the Gladiators, Kings Go Forth is a better peek at Sinatra's serious side of acting. Between the stark black-and-white photography by Daniel L. Fapp, an appropriately moody score by the great Elmer Bernstein, a fine script by best-selling author Merle Miller, Frank's almost noir-like narration, and the sincere performances by all three leads, Kings Go Forth lives up to its title in my book. Plus, it's nowhere near as depressing as the film from Disc 3 in Volume 1, A Hole in the Head from 1959.
Though marketed as a comedy, Frank Capra's A Hole in the Head is really a drama about Tony Manetta, a widower in Miami, Florida who owns a seedy hotel (called the Garden of Eden) and who has one very loud redheaded 12-year-old son, Ally (Eddie Hodges) in tow some of the time. The rest of the time, Tony's tryin' to find a way to either make it big or lookin' for a good time with the gals; his present "conquest" being a shameless beatnik partygoer (Carolyn Jones) who currently resides in one of the suites above. As if his carefree lifestyle wasn't already enough to bring about Child Protective Services, Tony also owes $5,000 on his facility; a bill which will find the Manetta duo homeless if not paid soon.