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After an emotional rendition of 'For He's a Jolly Good Fellow' number
one gangster, Big Jim, is shot dead at his own birthday party, and Guy
Gisborne (Peter Falk) takes over the mob
Robbo (Frank Sinatra), a rival gangster, warns Gisborne to stay out of the North Side John (Dean Martin), a minor hood from Indiana, joins Robbo's gang just before Robbo and Gisborne destroy each other's nightclubs Robbo rebuilds, outfitting his new gambling hall so that it becomes a new little modern casino at the touch of a button
Marian (Barbara Rush), Big Jim's daughter, gives Robbo $50 grand to kill her father's murderers, but he orders Will (Sammy Davis, Jr.), his aide, to donate the money to an orphanage Allan A. Dale (Bing Crosby), who runs the institution, crowns Robbo as a modern-day Robin Hood
The action takes place in the gangland Chicago of 1928 instead of Sherwood Forest Amusing ideas abounded The best being a brief appearance by Edward G. Robinson as the chief hood who is shot by the mob just few seconds in the film
Don't miss the formidable dance number "Style" performed and sung by Sinatra, Martin, and Crosby
I consider this the best of all the Clan movies that Frank Sinatra did
with his pallies. By the time Robin and the 7 Hoods was made, Sinatra's
movie career consisted of a lot of sleep walking roles. But Frank still
took his singing quite seriously and he's at the top of his game in
Since he produced and starred in it naturally Frankie reserved for himself the best song in the Jimmy Van Heusen-Sammy Cahn score. My Kind of Town did for Chicago what New York, New York did for the Big Apple and was nominated for best song that year. Sinatra delivers it in grand style.
He gave a little something for everyone in the cast. Peter Falk who plays Guy Gisborne gets one of those once in a lifetime chances to overact with abandon and gusto. He looks like he's having a ball, especially singing All For One And One For All as he's electing himself numero uno of the Chicago gangs.
Sammy Davis, Jr. other than in Porgy and Bess and here got very little opportunity to show off his amazing multi-talents in film. His Bang Bang number as Frankie's crew is busting up Falk's speakeasy, displays those talents of singing, dancing and mimicry. Listen close and you'll Davis do some good imitations of Al Jolson and Jerry Lewis.
Bing Crosby in his last musical role plays Alan-A-Dale and he replaced Peter Lawford when he and Sinatra came to an abrupt parting of the ways. He's the secretary of an orphans home where Sinatra donates some hot money to launder it. Crosby's one solo number in this is Don't Be A Do-Badder which is vintage philosophical Bing and I'm sure Van Heusen and Cahn wrote it after the casting change was made.
Dean Martin got short changed here. I wish he'd been given something better as a solo than Any Man Who Loves His Mother.
There's a song on the cast album that is heard in the background called I Like To Lead When I Dance. It got cut from the film. It also appeared on other Sinatra albums and Old Blue Eyes does really well by it. I wish it had been left in.
You can't possibly go wrong with all the talent that Sinatra gathered for this film. It was his last musical role as well.
ROBIN AND THE 7 HOODS, last of the 'official' Rat Pack trilogy, was
undeniably the best of the series (OCEAN'S ELEVEN, a glossy but ultimately
standard 'B' movie about a Las Vegas casino heist had been filmed, between
the Pack's nightclub appearances, in 1960, and SERGEANTS 3, a so-so comic
Western cavalry remake of GUNGA DIN, appeared in 1963), and with tunes by
the legendary Jimmy Van Heusen, it was the only film that gave it's
legendary stars a chance to perform in the format best suited to them...an
old-fashioned movie musical.
Set in Prohibition Chicago, the spoof of the Robin Hood legends offered Frank Sinatra as Robbo, favorite 'lieutenant' of murdered crime boss 'Big Jim' (unbilled Edward G. Robinson), who 'takes on' successor Guy Gisborne (a very funny Peter Falk) and his 'right-hand' man, Sheriff Alvin Potts (Victor Buono, also excellent), for control of the city. A likable gangster with a code of ethics, Robbo, and his pal, Will (Sammy Davis, Jr), are soon joined by 'new-in-town' grifter, Little John (Dean Martin), who easily beats Robbo in a game of pool (while harmonizing about being faithful to one's mother!). Meanwhile, a beautiful, mysterious woman (Barbara Rush) appears, introducing herself as Marian Stevens, with links to Big Jim, and an agenda of her own...
The arrival of milquetoast accountant Allen A. Dale (Bing Crosby, having a ball playing 'against type') with a scheme to turn public sentiment against Guy Gisborne and the Sheriff, through charity and 'good works', quickly brands Robbo as a hero who would steal from the rich to give to the poor, and Chicago adores him, driving Gisborne NUTS! As plots are hatched to discredit Robbo, body counts rise, and Marian proves the most duplicitous of all, in her quest to gain power.
While the plot summary doesn't sound particularly amusing, the film, with it's 'tongue-in-cheek' tone, is much closer in spirit to GUYS AND DOLLS than GOODFELLAS. With Sinatra, Crosby, Martin, and Davis crooning a rousing "Sit Down You're Rocking the Boat"-style mission number, "Mr. Booze", Davis singing and dancing to machine-gun volleys, and Sinatra performing what would become one of his 'signature' tunes, "Chicago (My Kind of Town)", the music is all first-rate, with the dramatic elements all played for laughs.
As Marian ends up with a surprising new 'mob boss', and Frank, Dino, and Sammy are reduced to pan-handling (but happy) "Santa Clauses", ROBIN AND THE 7 HOODS leaves viewers with a smile, and the Rat Pack with a film finally worthy of their considerable talents.
Not a bad legacy, at all!
After Chicago mob boss Big Jim is gunned down on his birthday, shifty
Guy Gisborne takes control of operations. But Big Jim's favourite man,
Robbo, is having none of it, and along with his loyal North Side Crew
and a drifter known as Little John, set about stopping Gisbourne and
his corrupt government pals in their tracks.
Easily the best of the Rat Pack pictures, Robin And The 7 Hoods is a piece that is more befitting their respective talents. Containing great songs courtesy of Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn, and boasting big time stars seemingly enjoying their respective roles, it is however a picture that possibly should be far far better. Perhaps it buckles under the weight of expectation with the names on show? Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Sammy Davis Jr and Peter Falk, now that is some roll call in star appeal, or maybe it called for a better director other than safe and steady, Gordon Douglas? But what we get is a mostly enjoyable experience that almost comes dangerously close to outstaying its welcome.
Personally to me it's a film that I rate higher than it deserves because I get such a kick out of watching these great entertainers enjoy themselves so much, Crosby and Falk in particular are having the time of their lives, with Crosby walking in and stealing the film from under the other's noses. There is also something special to me in a sequence as the gang ham it up gospel style for "Mr Booze", check out the looks on some of the guys faces, priceless cinema, whilst watching Old Blue Eyes sing "My Kind Of Town" will forever be a cherishable moment to me. There is a fair bit of interesting trivia attached to the picture which is readily available on this and many other internet sites, so I'll just move on a quickly surmise that Robin And The 7 Hoods should have been a classic, but for me personally I'll settle for hugely enjoyable. 7/10
To begin with, I recall catching the opening sequence of this one as a
kid on a now-defunct Sicilian TV channel Considered the best of the Rat
Pack films, this is a slick, likable and witty transposition of the
Robin Hood legend to gangland Chicago. A generally bright outing, it
loses steam towards the end, emerging as being decidedly overlong.
The stars are in their element – Frank Sinatra is Robin (called Robbo and clearly relishing the role, it’s hard not to be reminded of the star’s real-life mob connections), Dean Martin is Little John (their famous initial confrontation takes place over a game of pool!), Sammy Davis Jr. (who does a fair imitation of James Cagney) is Will Scarlett and Bing Crosby turns up half-way through as Allen A. Dale (this proved to be his last musical role). As for the villains, Peter Falk is wonderful as Guy Gisbourne (though he seemed stuck in gangster types during this time in his career) and heavy-set cocoa-drinking Victor Buono is the new Sheriff. However, I think it was a mistake to present Marian (Barbara Rush) as a femme fatale; appropriately, then, Edward G. Robinson (an icon of the gangster genre) cameos as Big Jim – the Richard the Lionheart figure. There are also notable bits by Hans Conried (as Robbo’s put-upon architect), Allen Jenkins (as a disgruntled partner of Falk’s) and Sig Ruman (as a leading citizen).
Though OCEAN’S 11 (1960) did provide a title tune sung by Davis, this is the only Rat Pack musical of the lot. Sinatra’s “My Kind Of Town” was nominated for an Oscar – but other songs are actually more memorably presented: Davis’ own energetic destruction (at the rhythm of a tap dance) of Falk’s gambling joint; “Style”, a momentous collaboration between Sinatra, Martin and Crosby (three of the best-loved crooners ever); and Crosby’s show-stopping “Mr. Booze” (at one point, to divert a police raid organized by rival Falk, Robin’s gang turns the joint into an impromptu temperance meeting!). With this in mind, the film has definite black comedy touches – particularly in the cornerstone-laying motif. However, the Christmasy finale in which the tables are once again turned in favor of Robbo and Rush is reformed (off-screen) by Crosby feels rushed.
Some trivia connected to the film: a kidnapping scene was dropped for hitting too close to home – Sinatra’s own kid had just been abducted and eventually ransomed for $250,000!; on the day JFK was shot dead, the scene of Robinson’s funeral was being filmed!; apparently, Sinatra’s old musical pal Gene Kelly was originally involved in the production as a dance director but left during its early stages after disagreeing with Sinatra (who also served here as producer) over the number of dance routines to be incorporated into the film.
Of all the five films they did together, the legendary Rat Pack never
had a better cinematic vehicle for their talents than right here! You
get the feeling, right from the start, that Frankie, Dino, Sammy, Bing,
and Peter Falk weren't really acting. They were cutting loose, having a
ball, and loving every minute of it. And you will, too! Not only are
there the great Cahn - Van Heusen songs, including the Oscar-nominated
"My Kind of Town," but there's the legendary William Daniels' excellent
color photography, and Don Feld's period costumes. And, in addition to
the aforementioned Rats, the performances of Barbara Rush as Marian
(The script implies that her maidenly status was long since spoken
for!), the underrated Robert Foulk as the corrupt Sheriff Glick, the
always-funny Victor Buono as his even more nefarious Deputy, Alvin
Potts, and the always funny veterans Hank Henry, Richard Bakalyan, and
Phil Arnold as various lovable lowlifes.
A couple of sad footnotes connected with this film, though: The funeral scene for Edward G. Robinson's character was filmed in an actual cemetery. While there, Sinatra, whose tumultuous relations with the Kennedys were well known, came across an actual gravestone for a "John F. Kennedy, 1800 - 1878." They joked about it the rest of the day, and drew a lot of disapproving looks, until someone turned on a car radio on the afternoon of November 22, 1963! Another scene, which was never used in the finished film, was a kidnapping scene, filmed the same day as Frank Jr. was kidnapped. For a film to be entertaining and funny under these circumstances is nothing short of amazing, but "Robin and the Seven Hoods" manages to be, in the last of the Rat Pack films, and the best one of all of them!
I don't want to comment on the quality of the movie, but there are only two movies in my life, that ALWAYS succeed to lighten my mood, when I am sad and down. One is "Robin and the 7 Hoods". (the other is Disney's "Junglebook"). There are much better movies on this planet, but the songs and humor in this one don't let me down. On "Mr. Booze" I show my qualification as a "Seat-Dancer". Hans Conried as the architect makes me laugh my head off, every time. I am a little disappointed that none of the other commentators featured the pool-billiard scene with Dino singing "Any Man who loves his Mother...". Any man who loves this movie is man enough for me...
Take the Rat Pack (an expression Sinatra hated, by the way), add some
songs, a decent story, AND Bing Crosby, and what do you get?
Well, less than you might expect-I've rated this a "7", because despite the above, Sinatra much of the time looks like he'd rather be someplace else, and Peter Falk's performance is cliche'-ridden.
The reason to see this one is Bing Crosby. He has several great songs, delivered in his inimitable style, such as "Mr. Booze". And his comedy bits, especially as a preacher to a Salvation Army-like meeting, are hilarious.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Fun nonsense that manages to spin together the Robin Hood legend with a
gangster musical. Frank Sinatra leads a band of hoodlums in a gang war
against nasty Peter Falk. His merry men include Dean Martin, Sammy
Davis Jr., and Bing Crosby. It's much brighter than the other Rat Pack
offerings and features some really great songs including the landmark
"My Kind of Town." Sinatra's terrific and as smooth as silk. He also
has a lot more chemistry with Barbara Rush than he did with Angie
Dickinson in OCEAN'S 11. It's also heartening to see him share the
screen not only with Martin and Davis, but Crosby as well. Gordon
Douglas, Sinatra's go-to hack during the '60s is credited as director,
but it's unlikely he had much input in the company of this much talent.
Edward G. Robinson makes a brief, and unlucky, appearance.
A major highlight: the great "Mr. Booze" number. A major NON-highlight: Peter Falk singing!
I was expecting less, as I once saw this referred to somewhere as a "self-indulgent" effort from The Chairman of the Board. I found it, au contraire, to be a solidly entertaining, well-made comedic effort with high production values, beautifully shot (the film really needs letterbox to show it off; catch it on American Movie Classics). Good work from all the leads, Peter Falk in particular, as well as the many familiar charcter actors. It is interesting how Frank's outfit never seems to quite fit into the 1928 setting - he always seems ready to step off the screen into 1964 Las Vegas. The nostagically vaudevillian number "Style", sung by Frank, Dean, and Bing, is worth the whole movie. Well worth a see.
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