Sinatra: The True Story Of The Man And The Legend is a two-disk collector edition that is being released on the 10th anniversary of his death to celebrate the life of a remarkable artist. The executive producer of this miniseries was his daughter, Tina Sinatra, and provides a recounting of the life of Frank Sinatra.
Sinatra covers over 20 years of the life of Frank Sinatra beginning with his youth as he grew up in Hoboken, NJ and ending with his 1974 return from retirement. Over two dozen Sinatra standards are included on Sinatra including "That's Life," "That Old Black Magic," "Come Fly With Me," "New York, New York," and more.
Sinatra stars Philip Casnoff (Law & Order:SVU) who was nominated for his performance, Oscar-winner Olympia Dukakis (Moonstruck, Steel Magnolias) portrays his mother, Dolly, while Gina Gershon (Ugly Betty, Showgirls) plays Sinatra’s wife, Nancy. Oscar-nominee Marcia Gay Harden (Mystic River, Pollock) plays Ava Gardner.
Emerging from Hoboken, Frank Sinatra begins his career as a singer for the Harry James and Tommy Dorsey bands. Struggling to keep his marriage afloat, he finally explodes into music and movie stardom, but soon finds that his personal failings cannot keep his personal life together. Through a number tumultuous marriages with starlets and finding friendships with the likes of Senator John F. Kennedy and mob boss Sam Giancana, his life is anything but normal.
Beyond the fact that Sinatra won a Golden Globe for Best Miniseries, this story works on a couple of levels. First, is that it contains great acting not in the least is the one by Philip Casnoff. While his look is similar to Sinatra, it is more about how he draws you in to believing that he is Sinatra. The songs he performs are lip-synched, but he performs as though he was the man. He is able to pull off the mixture of vulnerability and arrogance that at once catapulted Sinatra to stardom, and made him impossible to work with and live with.
The second level that this works on is the fact that even though it was overseen by the Sinatra family; primarily Tina, it doesn't try to hide any of the blemishes that the singer had. Even though he never wrote any of the songs that he performs, he still changed the music world by making the songs his own. He did this by imposing personality into the music. He painted the songs with his light and dark sides, his happy and angry persona. Even to this day, no matter who does the song, it still is called a Sinatra song.
The best part of this series is the early years and I think that it is because that fits Casnoff's age. While by the time we get to 1974, we have bought into the actor as Sinatra, a combination of the younger Sinatra is a more compelling character, and the older Sinatra had changed physically and I think is harder to pull off. Not to mention that the second half flies by much too quickly.
In fact this is the only downside to this video, and it is a flaw that can be seen in many biographical movies, is that the early years and the rise to fame are covered very well and as the person ages, much of the career is glossed over. There were many ups and downs to his musical career both in the '50s and '60s that were not covered.
Sinatra is in full-frame transfer as it was when it originally aired in 1992. There are no extras. This is a disappointment in that it would have been nice to have some interviews, some clips of Sinatra singing, acting, giving interviews, etc. It's not like there isn't a lot of things out there on the man.
The bottom line is that while I would not call this a collector's edition without the extras, I would say that this is really a great miniseries on the life of "The Chairman of the Board." This is probably the best, most accurate rendition of the life of Frank Sinatra that is available today and at the price is affordable for anyone to own. If you are a fan of Sinatra, someone who wants to know more about music of the time, or just want a very entertaining movie experience, then I highly recommend Sinatra