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This is Sinatra during his unsteady Ava Gardner period. It is before "From Here to Eternity" and Capitol records. Axel Stordahl is still Sinatra's conductor and he and George Siravo wrote most of Sinatra's arrangements. On some shows, Sinatra even sports a moustache which does not look good on him.
His hair is thinning and his bald spot is quite noticeable. He tries to plug some of the Mitch Miller inspired songs he recorded during this period, but one can see that his heart is really not into it. On a few occasions, his disdain for the songs is apparent.
I have seen 3 complete bootlegged shows on video and a compilation of Sinatra's musical numbers from the show. On a New Years show, Sinatra welcomes Louis Armstrong and the Three Stooges as his guests. It is too bad that Louis and the Stooges do not interact. That would have been terrific. The highlights on this show have Sinatra engaging in some Stooge slapstick at a New Years Party (with Vernon Dent as one of the guests!) and a wonderful duet of "Lonesome Man Blues" (from "Meet Danny Wilson") with Armstrong.
A second show, features Jack Benny as the guest. Benny and Sinatra work great together and the show also includes some very bizarre vaudeville acts.
The third show features Jackie Gleason and contains a story of Gleason taking the urban Sinatra to a hunting lodge. Here we see the cocky, hard drinking, straight character used by Gleason. He is fabulous. No trace of Ralph Kramden here!
The musical compilation has Sinatra in many settings performing his recent recordings. He has never been in better voice, but he is quite uncomfortable on the shows.
Although these shows are difficult to find, they are worth the effort of seeing Sinatra in his transition period from bobby sox idol to King of the Rat Pack.
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