Cast & Crew
In Beverly Hills, around Christmastime, excitable racketeer Spyros Acebos is waiting to hear from former sergeant Danny Ocean, who led the heroic 82nd Airborne unit of paratroopers during World War II. Acebos hopes that Danny will reassemble his highly trained commando unit to participate in a heist that will make them millionaires. Danny and a fellow paratrooper, Jimmy Foster, have worked out a detailed plan for putting Acebos' idea into action that requires carefully timed, military precision. However, they are avoiding Acebos' calls until they locate their former comrades and convince them to participate. After searching Phoenix, San Francisco and other cities where the men have scattered, Danny reunites his ten colleagues at Acebos' home to outline his plan, which is to simultaneously rob five Las Vegas casinos: the Sands, Flamingo, Sahara, Riviera and Desert Inn--on New Year's Eve at midnight.
Each man has his own reason for agreeing to the risky mission: for instance, playboy Jimmy wants to break his financial dependence on his wealthy, socialite mother, Mrs. Restes, while Vincent Massler wants enough money so that his wife can quit her job as a stripper. Key to the operation is the unit's luckless electrician, Anthony Bergdorf, who was recently released after serving time in San Quentin. Having assisted a jeweler in an insurance fraud scheme and become the victim of a complicated frame-up, Tony, who has a young son, is at first unwilling to risk further imprisonment. After his doctor informs him that he has a fatal heart condition, however, he agrees to the mission in order to leave a financial legacy for his child. Former race car driver "Curly" Steffans, prizefighter "Mushy" O'Connors, rodeo cowboy Louis Jackson, Peter Rheimer, Roger Corneal and Josh Howard, a former baseball player who lost an eye in the war and now works as a garbage collector, all agree to "liberate millions" from the casino vaults. However, Danny's best friend, Sam Harmon, a lounge singer who knows the city intimately and is aware of the level of security there, points out that they are not as athletic as they once were. Frustrated, Acebos calls him a traitor, but when Danny offers to let Harmon back out, Harmon realizes that he cannot talk his friends out of the plan and joins them out of loyalty.
Harmon is also concerned about Danny, whose estranged wife Beatrice left him for a more stable life, feeling that their marriage was a "floating crap game." Knowing they are both still in love, Harmon brings them together to talk. Danny invites Bea to go with him to Rio on January second, raising her suspicions that he is involved in another questionable activity. Recognizing that he "can never love a woman as much as he loves danger," she refuses him, but hopes he will someday want to settle down.
Two days before New Year's, the men regroup in Las Vegas. Surreptitiously, they spray infra-red painted arrows, which can be seen only by using special glasses, on the casino floors that lead to the cashier cages and back doors, and mark significant door knobs. After sneaking into the utility side of the casinos using keys acquired by Josh, Tony studies their electrical systems. When Danny unexpectedly encounters Adele Ekstrom, one of his "flings" who is jealous that Danny has met with Bea, they have a quarrel, after which she vows to get back at him. Adele calls Bea, hoping to make her jealous, but Bea is not moved by Adele's maliciousness. When Adele encounters Mrs. Restes, who is in Las Vegas with Duke Santos, who is to be her sixth husband, she reports that Jimmy is in town with his war buddies and not skiing in Squaw Valley, as he had told his mother.
After a bowling game, during which Danny's men discuss the rest of their plans, ammunition expert Rheimer, assisted by Mushy, sets a timed explosive on an electrical control tower to go off shortly after midnight. Meanwhile, Tony rigs the wiring of the emergency generators of the five casinos to open the vault doors instead of turn on the lights. On New Year's Eve, assigned to teams of two, Danny's men disperse to the five casinos and discreetly wait for midnight. After the clock strikes twelve, as everyone sings "Auld Lang Syne," an explosion destroys a control tower, throwing the casinos into darkness. As planned, casino operators turn on the emergency generators, which open the vaults, allowing the teams to hold up the vulnerable cashiers and take the money. After stashing the money in the casinos' trash cans, Danny's men return to their places inside the casinos in time for the lights to come on. One by one, Josh picks up the trash at each casino and loads it into his garbage truck. Although the thefts are swiftly reported and everyone exiting the city by car, train or airplane is searched, Josh's truck is not suspected and passes through roadblocks to the dumpsite, where he hides the money. In Beverly Hills, Acebos, whose criminal reputation prevents him from entering Las Vegas without raising suspicions, is elated to hear about the robbery on the radio. Danny is expressing amazement at how easily the scheme worked when Tony collapses from a heart attack and dies.
Meanwhile, Duke, who is prominent in the underworld, wonders who was behind the heist. Confident of his extensive connections, he meets with the managers of the five casinos and negotiates to return the money for thirty percent of the total. Later, when Mrs. Restes mentions that Jimmy is in town with his war buddies, Duke recalls a previous conversation in which his future stepson mentioned plans to make his own money for the first time in his life. Guessing that Jimmy and his cronies are responsible for the robbery, Duke, whose childhood poverty drove him to fight his way to wealth, admires the deed and thinks that, if Jimmy had been born poor, "what a career he could have!" After bribing an undertaker's assistant, Mr. Kelly, to inform him of anyone who contacts the establishment about Tony, Duke approaches Danny and Harmon and threatens to turn them in unless they give him half of the money. Impressed by their accomplishment, he says if they were professionals, he would have put them out of business, but that "new talent needs encouragement."
Afterward, when Harmon learns that Duke is Jimmy's mother's fiancé, he assumes that Jimmy double-crossed them, until Danny reminds him that Jimmy knows where the money is hidden and could easily have taken it and left. As an alternative to paying off Duke, Danny's men break into the mortuary and stash the money in Tony's coffin. Expecting that the corpse will be shipped to his ex-wife Grace in San Francisco, they plan to later retrieve the money, but hold back $10,000, which they immediately send to Grace. Later, when Grace comes to Las Vegas to make final arrangements for Tony, the undertaker, Mr. Cohen, suggests that she can save money by having the service in Las Vegas. The former paratroopers attend Tony's funeral, as does Duke, who has been contacted by Kelly. During the service, Kelly shows Duke a money band, marked ten grand, which he found on the floor under Tony's coffin that morning. As the minister reminds the gathering that "the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away," the men are bewildered by a rumbling sound and an usher explains that the deceased is being cremated. After the service, the men, each lost in his own thoughts, leave the mortuary.
Sammy Davis Jr.
George E. Stone
H. T. Tsiang
Charles Red Marshall
R. John Slosser
Robert "buddy" Shaw
Don "red" Barry
Philip W. Anderson
Jack R. Berne
Leon L. Carr
William H. Daniels
Ray Gosnell Jr.
George Clayton Johnston
M. A. Merrick
Jack Golden Russell
R. K. Sheffer
James Van Heusen
Ocean's Eleven (1960)
One of the first in a series of heist movies in the sixties, Ocean's Eleven (1960) perfectly captures the neon buzz and nighttime glamour of the world's most popular gambling den. At the same time, audiences are treated to a glimpse of Sinatra and his favored cronies having fun with their on-screen personas which are not so far removed from their off-screen lifestyles. In addition to 'Rat Pack' regulars - Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford, Norman Fell and Henry Silva - Ocean's Eleven co-stars Akim Tamiroff, Cesar Romero, Richard Conte, and Angie Dickinson as Ocean's estranged wife. Guest cameos include George Raft, Red Skelton, and Shirley MacLaine.
Lewis Milestone, the veteran director whose most famous film remains the anti-war saga, All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), seemed an unlikely choice to direct Ocean's Eleven. But his career had suffered during the communist purge of Hollywood due to Senator Joe McCarthy's influence in the fifties and Milestone needed the work. And it turned out to be hard work. Milestone had never experienced an actor like Sinatra before. "When he wasn't actually acting himself, he would say, 'Get him to do this' or 'Make sure she does that," Milestone recalled in All the Way, a Sinatra biography by Michael Freedland (St. Martin's Press). "Ask me which was my least favorite film that I ever made and it has to be Ocean's Eleven." For Sinatra fans, however, Ocean's Eleven is a good-time blast from start to finish and even though the "Chairman of the Board" doesn't sing one song on-camera, his pal Dino gets to croon a fun rendition of "Ain't That a Kick in the Head".
Director/Producer: Lewis Milestone
Screenplay: Harry Brown, Charles Lederer
Cinematography: William H. Daniels
Editor: Philip W. Anderson
Art Direction: Nicolai Remisoff
Music: Nelson Riddle
Cast: Frank Sinatra (Danny Ocean), Dean Martin (Sam Harmon), Sammy Davis Jr. (Josh Howard), Peter Lawford (Jimmy Foster), Angie Dickinson (Beatrice Ocean).
by Jeff Stafford
Ocean's Eleven (1960)
Why waste those cute little tricks that the Army taught us just because it's sort of peaceful now.- Danny Ocean
Hello, this is a recording, you've dialed the right number, now hang up and don't do it again.- Danny Ocean
There's only one thing you love, Danny: that's danger. Cliffhanging. You could never love a woman like you love danger.- Beatrice Ocean
Happy burial, dead dog.- Adele
He met a jiggly little number who was Vegas-bound.- Mrs. Foster
"Jiggly little number" isn't exactly how I would describe Danny Ocean... more like a well-mannered shark.- Adele
Is he?- Mrs. Foster
I'm so drunk, I don't think I could lie down without holding on!- Tipsy Girl
'Sammy Davis, Jr.' , required wooden blocks attached to the pedals on the garbage truck he drove in the film so that he could reach them.
In a scene between Danny (Frank Sinatra) and Adele (Patrice Wymore), Adele throws a dish of candy at Danny. The throwing of the dish was ad-libbed, which accounts for the genuine look of surprise on Frank Sinatra's face and the faces of his co-stars.
Significant portions of the movie interactions between major characters were ad-libbed. The actors playing the leading roles all knew each other well and improvised dialogue as well as or better than the script.
Most filming was accomplished early in the morning, before sunrise, since most of the actors also had shows in Las Vegas that they performed nightly during the shooting. The actors would wake up in the afternoon, do one or two shows in the evening, then go through make-up and arrive at the shooting locations for principal photography. Each shooting location was fully set up in advance so that minimal time would be wasted once the actors arrived.
In the final shot of the film, the eleven walk past the famous sign in front of the Sands hotel. The five members of the Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin., Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford) are billed on the sign.
Many contemporary sources refer to the film as Ocean's 11. After the opening credits, voice-over narration by Joey Bishop as "'Mushy' O'Connors" sets the story at "Christmastime in Beverly Hills, California-a time when everyone thinks only kind, tolerant, generous thoughts." At the end of the film, as the ten men walk away from the mortuary, they are shown onscreen individually with their names and character names superimposed. Behind them a marquee advertises "In the Lounge Jonah Jones, Norman Brooks and Ann Brooks, Red Norvo and Ernie Stewart Trio." According to a March 1960 Hollywood Reporter news item, Norvo "and his trio" appeared in the film performing backup for Dean Martin's song "Ain't That a Kick in the Head." Jonah Jones was a jazz trumpeter. After the final shot and ending credit of Sammy Davis, Jr., a second sign above the first lists the names of Frank Sinatra, Martin, Davis, Peter Lawford and Bishop.
The group of five, which was headed by Sinatra, came to be known in Hollywood as the "Rat Pack." Shirley MacLaine, who, according to an August 1960 Los Angeles Examiner article, made an unbilled appearance in the film at her own request, was considered an "auxiliary" member of the group. Los Angeles restaurateur Nicky Blair, George E. Stone, Hoot Gibson, Red Barry and other friends of Sinatra, many of whom are old character actors, make brief appearances in the film.
The ten closing cast credits of Ocean's Eleven differ in order from the opening credits and do not include some of the above-title names. In the opening credits, the cameo appearances of George Raft and Red Skelton are labeled as "guest stars." The character name "`Curly' Steffans" is spelled with an "a" onscreen, although the CBCS and reviews spell the name "Steffens." The character portrayed by actress Laura Cornell is called "Honeyface" in the film and "Sugarface" in the CBCS.
In April 1956, a Daily Variety news item reported that director Gilbert L. Kay and producer Earl Colbert had signed jazz guitarist Barney Kessell to score Ocean's Eleven, which was to be the first picture produced by the newly formed Matador Productions. The news item reported that the authors of the original story, George Clayton Johnston and Jack Golden Russell, were co-partnered with Kay and Colbert. According to a December 1957 Los Angeles Times news item, Lawford and Sinatra bought the screenplay, although, according to a 1957 New York Times news item, neither planned to appear before the camera.
A September 1958 Los Angeles Examiner news item, mentioning that Sinatra and Lawford's friendship had "blossomed into a business deal," confirmed their plans to produce the film in the Las Vegas area, at "the famed magnesium plant in Henderson, Nev.," a few miles outside of the city, and at the Sands Hotel, of which Sinatra and Martin had part ownership. The news item reported that small cottages near the plant would be used in the story to advance the plot, which called for them to be set on fire, so that the story's "gangsters" could hold up six hotels on the Strip while the fire and police departments fought the blaze. The news item also reported that during production, Sinatra, Lawford, Martin and Davis would alternate performances at the Sands each night.
According to a September 1958 Daily Variety news item, the film would be co-produced by Sinatra's Dorchester Productions and Lawford's Kenlaw Productions companies, and Sinatra and Lawford would perform in the film with Davis, Martin and Buddy Lester. An August 1958 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that production of the film, which was being written by Richard Breen, was being postponed until after Sinatra completed the film All My Tomorrows, which was the working title for the 1959 United Artists release A Hole in the Head (see entry above). According to November 1958 Los Angeles Mirror-News and October 1958 Daily Variety news items, Lawford and Breen traveled to Las Vegas to work on the script, which they discussed with the Las Vegas police chief, R. K. Sheffer (misspelled Shefter in the Daily Variety news item). Breen was not credited onscreen and his contribution to the final film has not been confirmed.
An August 1958 Hollywood Reporter news item, which erroneously referred to the film as Oceans of Loving, and an October 1958 Los Angeles Times news item, reported that Sinatra was negotiating with Jackie Gleason, who did not appear in the final film. An unsourced but contemporary article at the AMPAS Library adds that Tony Curtis and Milton Berle had been signed for cameos in the picture, and that Daniel Fuchs had worked on the screenplay. Although their appearance in the film has not been confirmed, a Hollywood Reporter production chart adds Cosmo Sardo to the cast and Hollywood Reporter news items add Sandra Preston, Billy Snyder and Bob "Sarge" Allen. Modern sources add Charles Perry, John George, Jerry Velasco, Joe Gray, Mike Lally, Max Wagner, Harry Wilson and Nelson Leigh to the cast. Dick Benedict, who was credited onscreen as an assistant to the producer and portrayed `Curly' Steffans, also served as dialogue director for the film, according to a January 1960 Hollywood Reporter news item.
According to an August 1960 Los Angeles Examiner article, producer-director Lewis Milestone had discarded most of the original melodramatic story, keeping only the basic idea of twelve ex-paratroopers robbing five Las Vegas casinos. January and February 1960 Hollywood Reporter news items reported that portions of the film were shot at the Sands, Sahara and Riviera, three of the five hotel casinos mentioned in the story, as well as at the Warner Bros. studio. Although it was later refuted in a modern book about the Rat Pack, an August 1960 Los Angeles Examiner article reported that the cast and crew shot the casino sequences during the establishments' slowest times, between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 am. A March 1960 Los Angeles Mirror-News article stated that television-style cue cards were used to eliminate the need for the cast to memorize lines. As planned over a year in advance, the film's leads alternated performances in the Copa Room of the Sands Hotel at night. Several autobiographical sources and documentary footage describe the party atmosphere, the pranks and drinking during the making of the film, all in the Rat Pack's flamboyant style, which can be summed up by one of their signature phrases, "ring-a-ding-ding." The filming lured more than the usual number of tourists to the Strip, most notably Lawford's brother-in-law and future president John F. Kennedy, who was making pre-campaign tours and for whom the Rat Pack members later campaigned.
The Ocean's Eleven's August 1960 Las Vegas premiere was themed as a New Year's Eve celebration set in the summer, and included the leads performing together at the Sands as part of the festivities. According to an August 1960 Los Angeles Examiner article, "The film is one of the few that typifies the de-moralization trend in film making today. There's no punishment for the crime." A August 30, 1960 Los Angeles Times article, titled "Ocean's 11 Fails to Awe N.Y. Critics," quoted a reviewer as stating: "If this picture can be parlayed...into a great success, then they've gotten away with real murder. If not, and the public ignores one of the truly emptiest displays on record, maybe some of these many talents will be forced to go to work."
Despite the mixed reviews during its opening, Ocean's Eleven became the highest grossing motion picture of Sinatra's career, according to modern sources. The Rat Pack made other films, the first of which in which some members appeared together was the 1959 M-G-M picture Some Came Running, starring Sinatra, Martin and MacLaine . Later films included the 1962 UA release Sergeants 3, the 1963 4 for Texas and the 1964 Robin and the 7 Hoods, the latter two for Warner Bros. (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70). However, Ocean's Eleven has been described by modern sources as "the quintessential Rat Pack film."
The Sands Hotel, as seen in the film, was demolished in November 1996 and rebuilt. Angie Dickinson and Henry Silva, who portrayed "Beatrice Ocean" and "Roger Corneal" in the original film, made brief appearances in the 2001 Warner Bros. remake of Ocean's Eleven, which was directed by Steven Soderbergh and starred George Clooney and Brad Pitt. Clooney and Pitt reprised their respective roles, as did most of the same creative team, in the 2004 sequel, titled Ocean's Twelve.
Released in United States 1998
Released in United States August 1960
Released in United States August 3, 1960
Released in United States on Video July 18, 1990
Released in United States Summer August 3, 1960
Shirley MacLaine makes a guest appearance in the film.
Released in United States 1998 (Shown in New York City (Walter Reade) as part of program "A Salute to Sinatra" August 21 - September 8, 1998.)
Released in United States on Video July 18, 1990
Released in United States August 1960
Released in United States August 3, 1960 (World premiere took place August 3, 1960 at the Fremont Theater in Las Vegas.)
Released in United States Summer August 3, 1960