Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Lewis Milestone|
|Produced by||Lewis Milestone|
|Screenplay by||Harry Brown|
|Story by||George Clayton Johnson|
Jack Golden Russell
Sammy Davis Jr.
|Music by||Nelson Riddle|
|Cinematography||William H. Daniels|
|Edited by||Philip W. Anderson|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Box office||$5.5 million (US/ Canada rentals)|
Ocean's 11 is a 1960 American heist film directed by Lewis Milestone and starring five of the Rat Pack: Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Joey Bishop. Centered on a series of Las Vegas casino robberies, the film also stars Angie Dickinson, Cesar Romero, Richard Conte, Akim Tamiroff, Henry Silva, Ilka Chase, Norman Fell, Patrice Wymore, and Buddy Lester, and includes cameo appearances by Shirley MacLaine, Red Skelton, and George Raft.
The film served as the primary inspiration for the Ocean's film series (2001–2007) a collection of heist films directed, edited or produced by Steven Soderbergh featuring an ensemble cast. The first film of the series, a remake of the original, Ocean's Eleven, featured Dickinson and Silva in a cameo.
World War II veterans Danny Ocean (Frank Sinatra) and Jimmy Foster (Peter Lawford) recruit nine of their comrades from their unit in the 82nd Airborne to simultaneously rob five Las Vegas casinos: the Sahara, Riviera, Desert Inn, Sands, and Flamingo.
The gang (the "eleven" of the title) plans the elaborate New Year's Eve heist with the precision of a military operation. Josh Howard (Sammy Davis Jr.) takes a job as a sanitation worker driving a garbage truck while others get jobs at the various casinos. Sam Harmon (Dean Martin) entertains in one of the hotel's lounges. Demolition charges are planted on an electrical transmission tower and the backup electrical systems are covertly rewired in each casino. At midnight, New Year's Eve, the tower is blown up and the Las Vegas Strip goes dark as the inside men sneak into the cages and hold up the cashiers and then dump the bags of loot into the hotels' garbage bins. A garbage truck driven by Josh picks up the bags and passes through the police blockade. Everything appears to have gone off without a hitch.
However, the gang's electrician, Tony Bergdorf (Richard Conte), drops dead of a heart attack in the middle of the Strip. This raises the suspicions of police, who wonder if there is any connection. Reformed mobster Duke Santos (Cesar Romero) offers to recover the casino bosses' money for a percentage. Since the robbery was well organized, he assumes it was a mob operation but his mob connections tell him they were not involved. But Duke is engaged to Foster's mother (Ilka Chase), who casually mentions that Foster and Ocean, who fought together in the army, are both unexpectedly in Las Vegas. He has also learned about Bergdorf's military record from the police. By the time Bergdorf's body arrives at the mortuary, Santos has pieced together the puzzle.
Santos now confronts the thieves, demanding half of their take. In desperation, they hide the money in Bergdorf's coffin, setting aside $10,000 for his widow (Jean Willes). The group plans to take back the rest of the money, making no payoff to Santos, after the coffin is shipped to San Francisco. This plan backfires when the funeral director talks Bergdorf's widow into having the funeral in Las Vegas—where the body is cremated, along with all of the remaining money.
Peter Lawford was first told of the basic story of the film by director Gilbert Kay, who heard the idea from a gas station attendant. Lawford eventually bought the rights in 1958, imagining William Holden in the lead. Sinatra became interested in the idea, and a variety of writers worked on the project. When Lawford first told Sinatra of the story, Sinatra joked, "Forget the movie, let's pull the job!"
The animated title sequence was designed by Saul Bass. The film's closing shot shows the main cast walking away from the funeral home, with the Sands Hotel marquee behind them, listing their names as headliners.
The film derives its name from this group of 11 people:
- Frank Sinatra as Danny Ocean
- Dean Martin as Sam Harmon
- Sammy Davis, Jr. as Josh Howard
- Peter Lawford as Jimmy Foster
- Richard Conte as Tony Bergdorf
- Joey Bishop as "Mushy" O'Connors
- Henry Silva as Roger Corneal
- Buddy Lester as Vince Massler
- Richard Benedict as George "Curly" Steffans
- Norman Fell as Peter Rheimer
- Clem Harvey as Louis Jackson
The Las Vegas portion of the film was all shot on location at the Flamingo, Sands, Desert Inn, Riviera, and Sahara hotels. One segment was also filmed at the former Las Vegas Union Pacific Depot.
In Los Angeles, two locations were used. The opening barber shop scene was filmed at 9740 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills. The scenes taking place at Spyros Acebos's house were filmed at 230 Ladera Drive, Beverly Hills, which at the time belonged to Hollywood agent Kurt Frings.
The film received mixed reviews from critics. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times disliked the film because "there is no built-in implication that the boys have done something wrong. There is just an ironic, unexpected and decidedly ghoulish twist whereby they are deprived of their pickings and what seems their just desserts. This is the flaw in the picture—this and the incidental fact that a wholesale holdup of Las Vegas would not be so easy as it is made to look." Variety wrote that the film was "frequently one resonant wisecrack away from turning into a musical comedy. Laboring under the handicaps of a contrived script, an uncertain approach and personalities in essence playing themselves, the Lewis Milestone production never quite makes its point, but romps along merrily unconcerned that it doesn't." Leo Sullivan of The Washington Post called the film "nothing more than a whopping sick joke in Technicolor ... It's a completely amoral tale, told for laughs." Philip K. Scheuer of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the film "has a pretty good surprise twist at the finish and is, of its type, a pretty good comedy-melodrama." A mixed review in The Monthly Film Bulletin called it "an overlong, intermittently amusing picture full of surface effects and private jokes ... Despite Milestone's efforts, the first third tends to drag, due mainly to desultory characterisation, but when the raid begins both situations and dialogue improve considerably."
Ocean's 11 was released on video by Warner Home Video on February 9, 1983 as part of their "A Night At the Movies" series, featuring a Hearst Metrotone Newsreel; a Warner Bros. animated short; and a coming attractions trailer of films from 1960. It was released on Blu-ray on November 9, 2010 in a "50th Anniversary Edition". Bonus features include:
- Special commentary by Frank Sinatra, Jr. and Angie Dickinson.
- "Vegas Map" – Mini-documentaries of the five casinos involved in the movie.
- Tonight Show clip of Angie Dickinson with Frank Sinatra as host from November 14, 1977.
- "Tropicana Museum Vignette"
- "Ocean's Eleven - Details". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
- Finler, Joel Waldo (2003). The Hollywood Story. Wallflower Press. pp. 358–359. ISBN 978-1-903364-66-6.
- Variety film review; August 10, 1960, page 6.
- pp.117–121 Levy, Shawn Rat Pack Confidential 1998 Fourth Estate Ltd
- "Ocean's Eleven". www.artofthetitle.com. Retrieved 2017-12-19.
- Everett Aaker, The Films of George Raft, McFarland & Company, 2013 p 171
- Crowther, Bosley (August 11, 1960). "The Screen: 'Ocean's 11'". The New York Times: 19.
- "Ocean's Eleven". Variety: 6. August 10, 1960.
- Sullivan, Leo (August 13, 1960). "'The Clan' Pulls A Slick Sick One". The Washington Post: D8.
- Scheuer, Philip K. (August 5, 1960). "Sinatra Premieres 'Ocean's Eleven':". Los Angeles Times: Part II, p. 7.
- "Ocean's 11". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 27 (321): 139. October 1960.
- "Ocean's Eleven (1960) review". Rottentomatoes.com. Retrieved 2016-09-09.
- "Warner Home Vid Adds New Titles". Daily Variety. December 28, 1982. p. 2.
- Ocean's 11 Blu-ray, retrieved 2017-12-19
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