Ocean’s 11 (Blu-ray) (1960)
PG Dir: Lewis Milestone | Warner | 127 min.

Review By: Matt Brighton | January 28th, 2012

Plot: What’s it about?

Trying to win in Las Vegas has been something that most of us have not been able to do. Face it, the place wouldn’t exist if the odds weren’t in their favor! The spin of a wheel, the flip of a card or the roll of the dice has changed many people’s lives in an instant. So one might come to the natural conclusion that the best way to win in Las Vegas is the old-fashioned way…steal the money! Of course, this isn’t an easy task, even forty years ago when Ocean’s 11 took place. Trying not to be just “another Rat Pack” movie, Ocean’s 11 is regarded as one of the better movies featuring Frank, Sammy and Dean-O. And it’s no small secret that this movie has just been made in to a more commercially successful (fact) and better (opinion) movie than the original, complete with star-studded cast that includes George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Julia Roberts. But, as always, a re-make has to credit the original in some sense of the word and in this case, it’s The Chairman and his gang. We’ll see if robbing a casino has ever been possible and if so, this much fun.

Danny Ocean (Frank Sinatra) and his group of World War II buddies seem to have a lot of time on their hands. Sam Harmon (Dean Martin), Josh Howard (Sammy Davis Jr.) and Jimmy Foster (Peter Lawford) are all friends of Danny’s and it’s not long that they are devising a scheme to rob five of the casinos in the Las Vegas strip. Beatrice Ocean (Angie Dickinson) is the on again/off again wife of Danny who wants nothing to do with him really, but still has a bit of love for her husband. Still, as Ocean does his very best to gather up the crew, we are treated to some song and dance numbers by Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin (what were you expecting…they were singers). The actual robbery itself kind of fizzles out, as most of the planning takes the majority of the movie. Set against the stage of New Year’s Eve (as opposed to the re-make is set against a boxing match), the crew’s plan is to cut the power on Las Vegas and simultaneously rob 5 of the casino’s. Does it work? You figure it out.

As I mentioned before, this may be a rare exception when the re-make of the movie is better than the original. Stephen Soderbergh has taken a story and somehow manages to gather five of the biggest movie stars on the planet and make not only a very entertaining, but well-made movie. The original isn’t a bad movie, per se, it’s just not as good as the newer version. Maybe I’m just a child of the newer movies (as this was made some 13 years before I was even born), so I’m used to the faster-paced flicks. Still, the original must be credited here and it is nice to see the Rat Pack in all of their glory. No group of men could slug down drinks or treat women like Frank and his boys!

Video: How does it look?

I remember watching this when it first hit standard DVD (about the same time that the re-make was hitting theaters…coincidence?) and was fairly impressed by the image. Over the years, I’ve caught this on television a couple of times and the image seemed somewhat bland and flat. This Blu-ray does bump up the image quality and I have to say that I’m downright impressed as to the way this looks. I’d often wondered what it’d be like to be with Frank and his boys, drinking and hanging out at a casino in Las Vegas. Well, watching this movie is about as close as I’ll ever get. Warner presents this in a 2.39:1 VC-1 HD transfer that’s faithful to the original, but gets the benefit of high definition. Detail is improved a bit, colors pop (just take a gander at Frank’s orange cardigan) and black levels are right on the money (pardon the pun). For fans of the film, “Ocean’s 11” has never looked better.

Audio: How does it sound?

There’s not a whole lot that can be done with a mono mix. Yes, this DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack does sound a bit above average, but it’s really no different than the mono mix that appeared on the standard DVD. Bear in mind we’re dealing with one channel here, so all of the ambiance that might otherwise be associated with a casino is pretty absent here. Dialogue is strikingly rich and we get to hear the Rat Pack in all of their glory. Yes we get to hear Sammy and Frank belt out a couple of songs (something that’s shockingly absent in the re-make), but mono is somewhat limited in regards to what it can really accomplish.

Supplements: What are the extras?

As for the supplements, well they’re pretty much the exact same as was present on the standard DVD. We get the same commentary from Angie Dickinson and Frank Sinatra Jr. These tracks were recorded individually, else they might have played off one another a little more. There’s a clip from “The Tonight Show” (the Johnny Carson one) with some archived footage of Frank Sinatra and we also get a “Tropicana Museum Vignette”, promoting the casino in Vegas. We get a “Vegas Map” in which you can select a landmark and click the button and a picture of said landmark comes up on screen. This could have been a lot more interactive, but I guess the effort and desire just wasn’t there on Warner’s end. Finally we wrap up with two trailers shown in standard definition.

Disc Features
  • (2.39:1) Aspect Ratio
  • Video Codec: VC-1
  • Audio: DTS HD Master
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Audio Commentary
  • Deleted Scene(s)
  • Featurette
  • Documentary
  • Digital Copy
  • 1 Disc Set
Ocean’s 11 (Blu-ray)

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