The Christmas Waltz

Frosted window panes. Candles gleaming inside. Painted candy canes on the tree. Santa’s on his way. He’s filled his sleigh with things. Things for you and for me. It’s that time of year, when the world falls in love. Every song you hear, seems to say: Merry Christmas, may your New Year dreams come true. And this song of mine, in three quarter time, wishes you and yours the same thing, too. 

And a very Merry Christmas to all of you! May it be a time of joy and peace, of harmony and love. What a pleasure it is for me to share this joy with you on Singing About Sinatra. May your holiday be one of Frank’s Christmas album and family tradition.

The Christmas Waltz is one of my favorite Christmas songs, and of course who could sing it better? It brings such a wonderful feeling of peace into my heart to listen to this song and to hear Frank sing these lyrics. May you take them into your heart and enjoy your season to the fullest.

Merry Christmas.

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[They All] Came Running

As Dean Martin started his solo career after his partnership with Jerry Lewis ended, he wanted to be known as a serious actor. Though when we all think of Dean Martin, we usually think of his humor and charm, he wanted to be able to make it in the world of serious acting, not just slapstick comedy.

The beginning of Dean’s comeback was marked by his role in the 1958 film The Young Lions, also starring Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift. The movie did well and did wonders for the beginning of Dean’s serious acting career.

Frank and Dean in the 1958 film Some Came Running.
Frank and Dean in the 1958 film Some Came Running.

After this film, he starred in his very first film with Frank Sinatra: the acclaimed 1958 drama Some Came Running. The movie also starred Shirley Maclaine, and perhaps even more than being a great movie and very successful, it brought Martin and Sinatra together. They had met before, but this was their first time working together. I’m not sure how historically accurate this is, but in my own opinion, this is the moment that started it all. Frank and Dean became very good friends with each other (and also Shirley Maclaine who became the only female member of the Rat Pack) and everything took off from there.

By the mid 1960’s, Dean was on fire. Making movies and singing, he’d really made a name for himself and he’d done a terrific job. But this is where I bring our section of narrative on Dean a little bit more together with Frank. Some sources say that Frank considered Dean his best friend, and I love that.

Though the Rat Pack was never any sort of official partnership, Frank and Dean (and the others, of course) continued to sing and act together. And boy, did the crowds come running!

frank and deanWhen you hear the names of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, rarely do you ever think of a time other than when the Rat Pack was at it’s peak. They made history with song and movies, but also played much more of an integral role in each other’s lives than I think any of us will ever know.

Dream A Little Dream Of Me

Dino youngDean Martin was born Dino Paul Crocetti on June 7, 1917 in Steubenville, Ohio, the son of Italian immigrants. And as if Dean Martin couldn’t get any cooler, the facts about his early life pre-career are incredible!

After dropping out of high school in the 10th grade, Dean’s life took some very interesting turns! He bootlegged liquor, served as a speakeasy croupier, dealt blackjack, worked in a steel mill, and boxed as a welterweight. In the boxing world he dubbed himself “Kid Crochet” and earned a broken nose, which was later straightened, and a lot of bruises.

Giving up boxing moved him on to his position as a croupier in andean in the ring illegal casino, and at the same time began singing with local bands. At this time he called himself Dino Martini after an opera tenor. In the early 1940’s he started singing for band leader Sammy Watkins who suggested that he change his name to Dean Martin.

Dean married his first wife Elizabeth “Betty” Anne McDonald in 1941 and they had four children together.

Although Dean continued to sing in nightclubs and with various bands, he didn’t enjoy the same success as Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra at first. He was yet another name in a world where many singers had the same style, which encouraged him to keep singing with different bands until he developed his own paired with his irresistible charm.

Though Dean didn’t do well when performing in a nightclub in New York just after Frank, it did set the stage for them to meet.

dean and jerryThings didn’t really take off for him until he teamed up with Jerry Lewis. They met at a nightclub in New York and formed a fast friendship which led to a ten year partnership. To this day the antics and laughter which they brought to their audiences are still enjoyed and loved. Though they both moved on to separate careers and lives, it is still very common to hear their names in a sentence together.

Dean and Jerry Lewis did enjoy a lot of success together. But it seems that even after it ended, there was still an entire world waiting for Dean.

Say It

“Whatever else has been said about me personally is unimportant. When I sing, I believe. I’m honest.” It is one of my all time favorite Frank Sinatra quotes. I like it because of what it says about character, confidence, and honesty.

frankAs with any megastar, much of Frank’s life was an open book. You’ll find no shortage of books about him, and opinions of what everybody thinks he was “really” like. Well, as much as I’d like to say otherwise, I didn’t know Frank either. I decided early on that because of that, I would rely on what he said about himself and what those that were closest to him said about him. I think that’s the best way to try and understand it all.

It was when I stumbled upon this quote that my research into Frank really opened up. It makes perfect sense. Frank’s story lies in his music, in his truest way of expressing himself. When he sang, he believed. It was when he was the most honest. Who was Frank Sinatra? Who was the person behind The Voice? To find out, all you have to do is listen.

I Fall In Love Too Easily

Happy Frank Thursday everyone! And I hope it’s been a good one. Since it’s been a whole week since I posted last, I feel like I’ve been away for a while. How has everyone been? Today we’re going to talk about one of Frank’s funnest and earliest movies which also stars, of course, the wonderful Gene Kelly.

Frank and Gene Kelly in one of the first scenes in the movie. All of their fellow sailors lean in to listen to Joe talk to his girl Lola.
Frank and Gene Kelly in one of the first scenes in the movie. All of their fellow sailors lean in to listen to Joe talk to his girl Lola.

Made in 1945, Anchors Away is that tale of two young navy men on shore leave. Having earned an award for outstanding bravery, they are given four days to be away in Hollywood. As Gene Kelly’s character Joe goes about his business on his way to see his girl, Frank’s character Clarence, whom Joe calls “Brooklyn”, follows Joe and confesses that he needs help finding a girl. Joe, who is known as the “Sea Wolf”, is very good with the ladies and so decides to help Clarence with his problem.

What starts as this little promise leads them into meeting a young boy who desperately wants to join the Navy, his aunt (played by Kathryn Grayson) who desperately wants to become a singer, and making another promise which leads to something else which is altogether wonderful and hilarious! The movie features many different songs and dance numbers, one of which is Frank’s “I Fall in Love Too Easily”, and Gene Kelly’s amazing dance number as a Spanish bandit and his iconic dance number with Jerry Mouse of Tom and Jerry.

It is a very fun, lighthearted movie to watch and so wonderful! Watch it and let me know what you think!

Sensational

Yes. Yes, it is true. For the second week in a row now I have missed my Frank Thursday post. I can’t even believe it, honestly. I’m quite bitter about the whole situation. Last week I was deathly ill and this week there was no internet connection all day yesterday. Not any other day of the week, of course, just Thursday. Luckily though, last Thursday when I was ill I watched an undisclosed number of Frank movies, so today as I catch up on yesterday’s post I had to decide which one to tell you about. And though they were all very good, of course, it actually wasn’t a very hard decision.

Mike Connor and Tracy Lord. Grace Kelly's dress in this part of the movie is wonderful!
Mike Connor and Tracy Lord. Grace Kelly’s dress in this part of the movie is wonderful!

High Society (1956) is a movie which features Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Grace Kelly. With a cast like that, you know that the movie’s got to be dynamite. But it actually is! It is definitely one of my all time favorites, and so much fun!

Grace Kelly plays Newport, Rhode Island socialite Tracy Lord, who is divorced from her highly successful jazz musician first husband Dexter, played by Crosby. She is about to be remarried, and Spy magazine sends a reporter by the name of Mike Connor, played by Frank, and his photographer to cover the wedding. Well, by the end of the movie Tracy finds herself about to be married but in a position to choose between three very different men. The movie has many different wonderful musical numbers, including Sensational which Frank’s character sings to Tracy at one point in the movie.

The movie is an absolutely marvelous one, and is actually the last one that Grace Kelly made before going to Monaco to marry Prince Rainier. Watch it, love it, and Happy (late) Frank Thursday!

Love And Marriage

Happy Frank Thursday and 5 days until Frank Sinatra Day! Because we have finished our narrative, today for the countdown we’re just going to go through the usual Frank Thursday routine and I’ll tell you about the movie I watched last week. For the rest of our countdown, I am open to suggestions! If there is something you want to know, just comment about it on this post and I’ll do my best to work it into the last four days of the countdown!

Frank standing under the office of Miguel Santos, played by Cesar Romero, in the movie.
Frank standing under the office of Miguel Santos, played by Cesar Romero, in the movie.

So last Thursday was an interesting one because one of my roommates had already moved back home and my other roommate and I had a lot of studying to do. So I turned a Frank movie on and then half watched/half listened to it while I studied. It is one my favorites actually, and such a great one!

Marriage on the Rocks (1965) is a wonderful comedy starring Frank, Dean Martin, Deborah Kerr [as a side note fun fact, this was the first movie that Frank and Deborah Kerr had worked on together since From Here to Eternity in 1953] Cesar Romero, and Frank’s daughter Nancy Sinatra who plays his daughter in the movie. Frank plays ad agency president Dan Edwards, who has been married to his wife Valerie, played by Deborah Kerr, for 19 years. He feels that their marriage is wonderful and stable, while she claims to their lawyer that she wants “a divorce on the grounds of boredom”.

Frank and Dean during a particularly great scene in the movie.
Frank and Dean during a particularly great scene in the movie.

Dan’s best friend Ernie, played by Dean, convinces Dan to take Valerie on a second honeymoon to fan the flames, so to speak. However, once they reach their second honeymoon destination in Mexico things take a turn for the crazy. There are divorces, marriage plans, marriages to the wrong people, and eventually this movie takes an exceedingly hilarious turn. Watch it, love it, and don’t forget to comment on this post if you have countdown requests.

Re-Enlistment Blues

Happy, happy Frank Thursday! Yes, it happens to be your lucky day with it being the countdown to Frank Sinatra Day and Frank Thursday!

One of the most romantic love scenes ever to be filmed. Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr.
One of the most romantic love scenes ever to be filmed. Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr.

Last Thursday I finally made my roommates sit down with me and watch From Here to Eternity (1953). It is an incredibly special movie in and of itself, but especially if you know Frank’s story with it. At the time, Frank’s career was pretty much in the dumps (stick around for tomorrow’s installment in the countdown to here that part of the story!). He wanted a part in any movie really, but especially this movie. He read the script, no, more like poured over it. He marked it up and down and learned it front and back. He knew that the part of Angelo Maggio was just for him. It was well known that he wanted the part, but because of the state of Frank’s reputation at the time nobody wanted to give him the part. After a few different nudges from different people, Frank finally landed the part with the magic words, “I’ll do it for nothing!” And so he got the role that changed the rest of his life.

Montgomery Clift and Donna Reed as Prew and Lorene.
Montgomery Clift and Donna Reed as Prew and Lorene.

From Here to Eternity is about a group of people, really, in Hawaii in the months leading up to Pearl Harbor. Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed, and Montgomery Clift make up the rest of the major cast. Dynamite, right? Montgomery Clift plays the lead role of Robert E. Lee Prewitt, or Prew, a young man who loves the army and is an amazing bugler. He transfers into a different company where he is put through the “treatment”. The company is heavy into boxing, and Prew was once a boxer but will no longer fight because he accidentally caused a man to go blind once while they were practicing. So the men in the company begin putting him through all kinds of punishments to get him to box, but he never will.  Burt Lancaster plays the sergeant of the company, who falls in love with the captain’s wife, played by Deborah Kerr. The sergeant tries to look out for Prew, but in the end he thinks that Prew should give in and box. He calls him a “hothead” and tells him from the beginning that sometimes “you’ve gotta play ball”. Frank, as I mentioned, plays Angelo Maggio, a friend of Prew’s. He is a wonderful character, strong and funny. He seems to be the character in the company that everybody really enjoys being around, almost like the little brother. He takes Prew down to a gentleman’s club where Prew falls in love with Donna Reed’s character Lorene.

Frank as Angelo Maggio. His portrayal of this wonderful character earned him a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award.
Frank as Angelo Maggio. His portrayal of this wonderful character earned him a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award.

But all isn’t really rose colored, even with everybody falling in love. There is the problem that the sergeant and the captain’s wife cannot be together; she has a dark past to overcome. Lorene and Prew are in love but she wants to marry a “proper” man and live in a “proper” home and raise “proper” children, because when you’re “proper” you’re safe. Maggio also ends up in the stockades after several different events. The scene in which they find out his fate is heart-wrenching, with several men waiting anxiously in the office of the captain to hear “what he got”. And in the midst of all of this comes the attack on Pearl Harbor. In order to find out what happens, I suppose you’ll have to go and watch it! I very highly recommend it. It won several different awards, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Frank and Best Supporting Actress for Donna Reed. In the end, all I can really say about this movie is that it touches something in the human soul, and when you finish watching it you have that sort of raw feeling. But I guess that’s what you expect from such a great drama.

Luck Be A Lady

Well, Thursday is here again! And Happy Frank Thursday to all of you!

fef000ee475bd5c619db8ebcf3a380b9Things have been particularly crazy this last week in the life of this bobby soxer, however I am here and I’ve got a wonderful movie to tell you about. Last week my roommates and I watched Guys and Dolls (1955). It is an absolutely amazing musical set in New York City. (As a side note, I just realized that all of the movies I keep telling you about are all musicals. I assure you, though, that Frank was not only in musicals and I do not, in fact, only watch them. Just saying.)

Frank plays Nathan Detroit, a notorious gambler who runs a floating crap game. When he cannot find a place to hold the game except for for a very steep price, and with so many big gamblers in town, he places a bet with a friend Sky Masterson, played by Marlon Brando. He bets Sky the sum of money that he won’t be able to take a girl of Nathan’s choosing to Havana for dinner. Well, of course all sorts of hilarity ensues as people promise to get married and gamble in sewers and it is complete with a whole host of amazing musical numbers. Including the number, Luck Be A Lady, which was actually sung by Brando in the film but Frank later recorded.