Frank Sinatra: The Detective and The First Deadly Sin

February 13, 2016 | By

Detective_posterWhen Frank Sinatra migrated to detective thrillers in the 1960s, he found a cozy genre that suited his screen persona of a sometimes tough and a bit gruff but generally fair-minded guy from a working class background trying to do good within a broken judicial system.

Twilight Time’s release of The Detective (1968) sports a great transfer and stellar commentary track, and the film’s also regarded as one of Sinatra’s best crime films, melding his age with Roderick Thorp’s characterization of a weary yet dogged detective, and some very sleazy elements, some of which have aged very badly.

I detested the film when I first bought it on laserdisc and soon got rid of the pricey thing, but 20-odd decades later, it’s worth re-examining and appreciating its genuine high points, in terms of its casting, locations, grim mood, screenwriter Abby Mann’s emphasis on characters and procedure than violence and action, but there’s one element that’s aged very badly, and it’s both offensive and laughable, depending on specific scenes.

FirstDeadlySin_posterPaired with the review is The First Deadly Sin (1980), an exceptionally flawed serial killer / procedural thriller with Sinatra returning to film acting after a 10 year gap, proving he could still deliver a compelling performance in spite of a lousy script and banal direction.

Warner Home Video released the film back in 1999 (there’s also a 2010 Warner Archives reissue), and it’s worth contrasting in each film review what could be regarded as Sinatra’s strongest tough cop roles, and a pair of performances that pretty much keep each film afloat.

I’m re-shuffling the order of reviews as a long-delayed hard drive replacement had to happen this week.

I’ve some docs coming shortly, plus another pair of Sinatra gems, the war films Some Came Running and Kings Go Forth (both from 1958), the latter also new on Blu from Twilight Time.

I’ll also post that review of Heartbreakers (1984) shortly, coupled with a small bonus video which couldn’t be rendered until chunks of data were shifted around.

With more hard drive space, I’ve also rendered the visuals that accompany a lengthy intro which preceded an October screening of The Mask (1961) at the Lightbox. Whereas the aforementioned video short is in 1080p, the trippy images that accompany The Mask audio are straight 1280×720, and yet they took 6.5 hours to render because of the extensive layers. Expect the finished video to be posted soon after, alongside a review of KINO’s Mask Blu-ray, and a few other related pieces.

When your computer is running out of space, you can actually hear it scream in agony.



Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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