Monday, May 18, 2009

Frank Sinatra Blues

The word is out in Hoboken that Martin Scorsese is planning a new movie about Frank Sinatra. People are wondering what this one will be like.

Will he find an unknown to play the role, or will he give it to one of his faves, for example Leonardo Di Caprio? Slezak suggests that the casting people go for Harry Connick, Jr., if the movie is about the Sinatra of the late 1950's. If the movie is about Sinatra as a kid in Hoboken, he needs to find a reedy little slick blue-eyed lad with sass and a great set of pipes.

Whatever period the movie covers, Slezak thinks I'm right for the role of Dolly, Frank's pushy, ballsy, ever-lovin' Italian mother. The part of a lifetime, that one. Are you listening, Marty?

Can you not think of Sinatra at this time of year in Hoboken? The town abounds with Sinatra images and echoes with tales of his lifetime conflicts, so many born out of his ambivalence about his hometown. There are people here who deeply resent his attitude about Hoboken after he made it and left. The view of New York City still dominates Hoboken, and when it was a settlement of poor immigrants, it must have even more. So near and yet so far. Hoboken kids had only to hop on a ferry to get to the city, but when they were there, what? They'd hop on another ferry home to their walkups in the western ("downtown") area of town after a brief outing and wonder what real New Yorkers were like. Frank found out, becoming a quintessential New York type, setting the stage of the 1950's with his songs and his freewheeling style. He had gotten a toughness from Hoboken, a soul from his Italian heritage, and a life from his own gusto and guts.

And the guy could sing a song. Whenever I read about his behavior and his exploits, some of which make my blood boil, I always come back to the way he romanced a song until he, as Steve Lawrence once said, made a three-act play out of it. He seemed to have music in his bloodstream and the talent for acting that could infuse a simple tin pan alley number with operatic force. Upbeat or bluesy, in Sinatra's hands every song became more.

There will be another movie about Sinatra. Which facet of the man will it touch? The latest news releases say there will be no "gangsters" in it. Does that mean it won't be set in Hoboken, then? I can't imagine Scorsese doing a nice movie about a band singer from the 1940's and 50's who had no mob connections...I'll wait til he sends me my script, and then I'll tell you some more about it.

In the meantime, I think I'll go get my vinyl of "In the Wee Small Hours" and put in on the Victrola. This is a good excuse to give that one a listen.


Hoboken Kid said...

Some years ago I was invited to Frank Garrick's 90th birthday party--that's Sinatra's godfather--held at the Elks in Hoboken. I was seated at his table. He told me the story of bringing little Frankie to get baptized. The press has it right, Martin was not a Catholic name so the priest named the baby after him (Garrick). He went alone with the baby. A sickly baby he was, so they hurried to get the baby baptized. Frank Garrick showed me the solid gold watch Sinatra gave him. I tried it on and looked on the back. Inscribed was the words WITH LOVE FRANCIS. Sinatra was having a show at Carnegie Hall. He did now show for the birthday, but sent 3 cases of champagne and a note to him. Two cops showed. We all thought Sinatra changed his mind and came. Not so. They just asked if we would move the few cars that were double parked outside. TRUE STORY

Jennifer Dee said...

A lovely post on Frank Sinatra. I never knew that he came from Hobeken, always thought it was New York. Like you I feel like putting one of his CDs on and listening to that lovely voice.

Mary Lois said...

Didn't know Sinatra was from Hoboken? What IS the world coming to? Jennifer, if you ever come back to this blog, check out this post and you might also enjoy the one called "The Other Singer from Hoboken" about Jimmy Roselli.

Lotta great comments, and if you're in (or from) Hoboken, the spirit of Frank Sinatra is never far away.