A Hole in the Head
|A Hole in the Head|
|Directed by||Frank Capra|
|Written by||Arnold Schulman|
Edward G. Robinson
|Music by||Nelson Riddle|
|Cinematography||William H. Daniels|
|Editing by||William Hornbeck|
|Release dates||July 15, 1959|
|Box office||$5.2 million (est. US/ Canada rentals)|
A Hole in the Head (1959) is a comedy film directed by Frank Capra, featuring Frank Sinatra, Eddie Hodges, Edward G. Robinson, Eleanor Parker, Keenan Wynn, Carolyn Jones, Thelma Ritter, Dub Taylor, Ruby Dandridge and Joi Lansing, and released by United Artists.
The film introduced the song "High Hopes" by Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen, a Sinatra standard used as a John F. Kennedy campaign song during the presidential election the following year. Wynn plays a wealthy former friend of Sinatra's character who expresses interest in his plan to build a Disneyland in Florida (the film predates Disney World)—until he notices that Sinatra seems too desperate as he cheers for a dog upon which he'd bet heavily. The movie ends with Tony, Eloise and Alley singing "High Hopes" on the beach. Sinatra sings "All My Tomorrows," another Cahn/Van Heusen song, under the opening titles.
The screenplay was adapted by playwright Arnold Schulman, whose father was the operator of a Miami, Florida hotel. The protagonist of A Hole in the Head is a Miami hotel operator of "The Garden of Eden." The actual hotel used for the exterior shots was the Cardozo Hotel, located on Miami Beach's Ocean Drive. Shot over 40 days between 10 November 1958 and 9 January 1959, the film did not enjoy the smoothest of productions, especially during the location filming at Miami Beach. Sinatra's relations with the press were problematic, the media seizing on every anti-Sinatra rumor they could find.
Aided by William Daniels, Capra completed the film a full eighty days ahead of schedule, its final production cost of $1.89 million well under the allotted budget. The film opened on June 17, 1959. Although having some positive reviews, the film was only a modest box-office success, grossing $4 million in America.
Tony Manetta is a man who moved from the shabby area of Bronx to Miami, Florida with his two friends in hopes of getting wealthy and successful. Although the two friends managed to get stable in the next 20 years (his older friend became a successful landlord of luxury hotels, and his younger friend went on to run a local taxi business) he himself became a manager of a small hotel called "Garden Of Eden". He became spoiled, spending money for expensive suits and a Cadillac while being always in debt and refusing to get more stable. He is now also a widowed father of a 11-year boy, Alvin Manetta.
In debt, the rent is five months in arrears, Tony is given 48 hours by his landlord, Abe Diamond to raise a little more than $5,000 or else lose his hotel, Tony, in desperation tells older brother Mario, who runs a clothes shop and has loaned money to Tony multiple times, that he needs a loan for Ally's sake, lying that the boy is ill. Mario and wife, Sophie promptly fly from New York to Miami and find out the truth.
Tony is "a bum" in Mario's eyes who puts his time and money into fanciful schemes rather than honest work. He is willing to stake Tony with funds, but only to begin a sensible small business such as a five-and-ten store, and not hotels or casinos. Tony also is set up with Eloise Rogers, a widow and acquaintance of Sophie's, who is seen to be a more appropriate companion for Tony than his current girlfriend, Shirl.
To his surprise, Tony is impressed with Eloise and his son Ally takes an immediate liking to her. Mario offends her with prying questions about her husband's will and finances, causing Tony to confess that's the reason they were introduced. Eloise reveals to Tony that having lost both her husband and son, she appreciates the notion of being with someone again who needs her.
An old pal, Jerry Marks, now a wealthy promoter, invites Tony to a party. Pretending to be more prosperous than he is, Tony explains his idea to buy a piece of land in Florida and open a second Disneyland there. Jerry seems interested in being his partner again.
He takes Tony to a dog-racing track, where Tony uses the $500 he earned from selling his Cadillac to match Jerry's large bet. His dog wins, but Jerry coaxes him into letting it ride in the next race on a dog called Lucky Ally. The obvious desperation in Tony's voice as he roots for the dog to win makes it clear that he is not a man of means. Jerry insults him afterward, and when Tony throws a handout back in his face, Tony is punched by one of Jerry's body guards.
Literally a beaten man, Tony decides the best thing for Ally is to go live in New York with Mario and Sophie from now on, even telling the unconvinced boy that he's not wanted. Tony goes off to the beach by himself, but Ally runs out to be with him, and soon they are joined by Eloise. Mario and Sophie decide to take a long overdue vacation, leaving the New York store in the hands of their son, Julius.
The film was based on the Broadway play of the same name. It debuted at the Plymouth Theatre on Broadway on February 28, 1957 and featured actor Paul Douglas in the lead role. The play earned a Tony Award for Boris Aronson in 1958 for Best Scenic Design. On July 13, 1957 the show closed for a total of 156 performances. Sinatra's agent, Bert Allenberg, bought the film rights for $200,000.
- Frank Sinatra as Tony Manetta
- Edward G. Robinson as Mario Manetta
- Eddie Hodges as Alvin "Ally" Manetta
- Eleanor Parker as Eloise Rogers
- Carolyn Jones as Shirl
- Thelma Ritter as Sophie Manetta
- Keenan Wynn as Jerry Marks
- Joi Lansing as Dorine
- Joyce Nizzari as Alice
- Dub Taylor as Fred
- Ruby Dandridge as Sally
- James Komack as Julius Manetta
- Connie Sawyer as Miss Wexler
- "1959: Probable Domestic Take", Variety, 6 January 1960 p 34
- Variety film review; May 20, 1959, page 6.
- Harrison's Reports film review; May 23, 1959, page 83.
- John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum
- The hotel has been owned by Gloria and Emilio Estefan for many years.
- O'Brien, D. The Frank Sinatra Film Guide, Butler & Tanner, London. ISBN 0-7134-8418-7
- Broadway play info
- Time magazine article from 1957