The Frank Sinatra Show: High Hopes - With Dean Martin and Bing Crosby [DVD]

Roger Holland

In the words of his own director, Jack Donahue: 'There are quite a few performers who have no business on television each week, and Sinatra is one of them.'"

Frank Sinatra

The Frank Sinatra Show: High Hopes - With Dean Martin and Bing Crosby [DVD]

Label: LABEL
US Release Date: 2005-10-25
UK Release Date: 2005-06-27
Amazon affiliate

Frank Sinatra never made his mark on television. He tended to blame the medium and "those guys in grey flannel suits", the network executives: "My blood boils when I see the mediocrities sitting on top of the TV networks." But the networks and the critics blamed the tuxedoed Sinatra, and even his own director Jack Donahue concurred: "There are quite a few performers who have no business on television each week, and Sinatra is one of them."

In 1952, Sinatra signed the biggest deal in television history with CBS, and his show was cancelled after a year with snake belly ratings. Nonetheless in 1957, with his records selling in the millions and his movies doing great business at the box office, Sinatra signed another record-setting TV deal, this time with the ABC network: a three year contract for 36 half-hour filmed (as opposed to live) shows. ABC got the biggest name in entertainment, Sinatra got three million upfront in cash plus a 60% share in the profits and residuals. Surprising no-one except ABC, the new Frank Sinatra Show was cancelled after 26 weeks, and in an attempt to recoup their investment, the network ran four one-hour specials the following year sponsored by Timex.

High Hopes is remastered from the archive tape of the Timex special that was originally recorded on October 19, 1958. For a show that brought together three of the biggest names of any era, it disappoints hugely and offers little more than curiosity value.

Watch Sinatra and Martin sleepwalk their way through an hour of missed lines and self-indulgence. Watch Dino upstage Frank with his dance steps. Watch Dino plug his own restaurant with a message scrawled on the sole of his shoe. Watch Bing Crosby shrug off the embarrassment and show the younger men how a professional works -- although he alone is denied a solo spot.

Watch, and wonder how on earth Frank Sinatra could go from movies as strong as The Man With The Golden Arm (1955), High Society (1956) and Some Came Running (1958) to something quite this disturbingly bad. Listen, and wonder how the man who made Songs For Swinging Lovers (1957) and Come Fly With Me (1958) could perform this poorly.

The original Timex Promotional Segments that are included on High Hopes would probably qualify as the most entertaining thing on this DVD, if it wasn't for Dean Martin's Jimmy Durante impersonation and a cameo performance from Durante himself. It's only when Sinatra takes the microphone at the head of a Nelson Riddle band that we get anything approaching the real deal. "It Was Just One Of These Things", "Angel Eyes" and "The Lady Is A Tramp" are still second-rate and perfunctory, but at least they hint at Sinatra's greatness. Everything else on High Hopes merely underlines his lack of respect for television and his audience.





Dancing in the Street: Our 25 Favorite Motown Singles

Detroit's Motown Records will forever be important as both a hit factory and an African American-owned label that achieved massive mainstream success and influence. We select our 25 favorite singles from the "Sound of Young America".


The Durutti Column's 'Vini Reilly' Is the Post-Punk's Band's Definitive Statement

Mancunian guitarist/texturalist Vini Reilly parlayed the momentum from his famous Morrissey collaboration into an essential, definitive statement for the Durutti Column.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

What Will Come? COVID-19 and the Politics of Economic Depression

The financial crash of 2008-2010 reemphasized that traumatic economic shifts drive political change, so what might we imagine — or fear — will emerge from the COVID-19 depression?


Datura4 Take Us Down the "West Coast Highway Cosmic" (premiere)

Australia's Datura4 deliver a highway anthem for a new generation with "West Coast Highway Cosmic". Take a trip without leaving the couch.


Teddy Thompson Sings About Love on 'Heartbreaker Please'

Teddy Thompson's Heartbreaker Please raises one's spirits by accepting the end as a new beginning. He's re-joining the world and out looking for love.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Little Protests Everywhere

Wherever you are, let's invite our neighbors not to look away from police violence against African Americans and others. Let's encourage them not to forget about George Floyd and so many before him.


Carey Mercer's New Band Soft Plastics Score Big with Debut '5 Dreams'

Two years after Frog Eyes dissolved, Carey Mercer is back with a new band, Soft Plastics. 5 Dreams and Mercer's surreal sense of incongruity should be welcomed with open arms and open ears.


Sondre Lerche Rewards 'Patience' with Clever and Sophisticated Indie Pop

Patience joins its predecessors, Please and Pleasure, to form a loose trilogy that stands as the finest work of Sondre Lerche's career.


Ruben Fleischer's 'Venom' Has No Bite

Ruben Fleischer's toothless antihero film, Venom is like a blockbuster from 15 years earlier: one-dimensional, loose plot, inconsistent tone, and packaged in the least-offensive, most mass appeal way possible. Sigh.


Cordelia Strube's 'Misconduct of the Heart' Palpitates with Dysfunction

Cordelia Strube's 11th novel, Misconduct of the Heart, depicts trauma survivors in a form that's compelling but difficult to digest.


Reaching For the Vibe: Sonic Boom Fears for the Planet on 'All Things Being Equal'

Sonic Boom is Peter Kember, a veteran of 1980s indie space rockers Spacemen 3, as well as Spectrum, E.A.R., and a whole bunch of other fascinating stuff. On his first solo album in 30 years, he urges us all to take our foot off the gas pedal.


Old British Films, Boring? Pshaw!

The passage of time tends to make old films more interesting, such as these seven films of the late '40s and '50s from British directors John Boulting, Carol Reed, David Lean, Anthony Kimmins, Charles Frend, Guy Hamilton, and Leslie Norman.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.