A free-wheeling, uninhibited all-star romp, OCEAN'S ELEVEN set the pace for the "caper" films of the 1960s and 1970s. Sinatra, Davis, and Martin performed their club acts at night and worked on this Las Vegas-set film during the day, and the good time they were having fairly jumps off the
screen. Tamiroff comes up with the idea of knocking off five Vegas casinos--the Sahara, the Flamingo, The Riviera, The Sands, and the Desert Inn--on New Year's Eve. His scheme calls for the crooks, all veterans of the 82nd Airborne Division, led by Sinatra, to use their military knowledge and
commando timing to plunge the casinos into darkness by shutting off their electricity. To do this, they have to explode a power tower outside the town. Then the back-up systems at the hotels will be dealt with so the electronically controlled doors to the safes will swing open. Next, all the money
will be taken and dumped in garbage cans outside each casino, where they will be picked up by a disposal truck driven by Davis. During the planning stage of the crime, the film gives us the opportunity to learn a bit about the conspirators. Conte is the group's electrician and, like the others,
basically an honest man. He needs his share of the loot to provide for his small son. Lawford is the son of much-married Chase, who is about to make Romero, a local gangster, her fifth husband. Missing his wife, Dickinson, but knowing that she would just be in the way, Sinatra sends her a telegram
saying they can't get together. This, of course, brings her immediately to Las Vegas, where she gets in the way. When Wymore, a former girl friend of Sinatra, also arrives, sparks fly. Dickinson wants Sinatra to go back to New York with her, and when he doesn't and can't tell her why, she exits.
The big night arrives. The robbery runs well, and then matters begin to fall apart--as they always seem to do in this sort of movie. Conte has a heart attack and dies. Romero finds out about the caper and demands half the action, making it impossible for the gang to get the money out of town. They
come up with the idea of smuggling the loot out in Conte's coffin, figuring that no one would ever look there. What they don't reckon on, however, is Conte's widow, Willes. She decides to have Conte cremated, and Sinatra and his cohorts look on in stunned silence as all the money (and their pal)
goes up in smoke.
Lawford started the ball rolling on OCEAN'S ELEVEN when he found the story on which it is based; then he and Sinatra formed a production company, with Martin also buying in. George Raft and Red Skelton do small cameos, as does Shirley MacLaine, in an unbilled bit as a drunken floozy. MacLaine was
busy making THE APARTMENT and took off a day to fly to Las Vegas and appear in a scene with Martin that reputedly took less than 10 minutes to shoot. There are several other interesting bit performances in the film, including those of Hoot Gibson, Red Barry, and Louis Quinn (Roscoe on TV's "77
Sunset Strip"). The picture also features two songs by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen, "Ain't That a Kick in the Head?" (sung by Dean Martin), "Ee-O-leven," (sung by Sammy Davis, Jr.).
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- Rating: NR
- Review: A free-wheeling, uninhibited all-star romp, OCEAN'S ELEVEN set the pace for the "caper" films of the 1960s and 1970s. Sinatra, Davis, and Martin performed their club acts at night and worked on this Las Vegas-set film during the day, and the good time they… (more)