An original television production from 1981, Frank Sinatra: The Man and his Music
features ol' Blue Eyes in mellow mood with the sweetly modest Count Basie and his Orchestra. The selection of songs on offer is ample evidence that no popular singer could phrase a standard song the way Sinatra did. Even when he was past his vocal glory days he continued to swing, but, unlike Tony Bennett, Sinatra didn't really develop as a singer in his later years. He knew what worked and he knew what his audience wanted and he rarely shook the formula up.
Sometimes, there is just the slightest hint of sleep-walking complacence and here he is caught out by a dreadful pop song about the attraction of opposites ("I Loved Her") and a ham-fisted attempt at Sondheim's "Good Thing" (from Merrily We Roll Along). Which goes to show that even the greatest don't always have infallible taste; and when they do, they still need to put in a bit of effort to make it work for them. When it comes to the standards, though, he is sublime. "Nice 'n' Easy", "I Get a Kick Out of You", "Thanks for the Memory" and of course his signature tune, the theme from "New York, New York" are here for the fans, all performed effortlessly. Even if he sometimes seems to be doing it with his blue eyes shut, he makes today's would-be crooners (Robbie Williams and anybody from Pop Idol) look like the minnows they really are.
On the DVD: This disc reflects the production values you'd expect from an early 1980s television special: unsophisticated studio lighting doing its best to remove any sense of atmosphere; video picture quality (in 4:3 format) and average sound (PCM Stereo). But it scarcely matters. In many ways this is a historical documentation of a colossus of 20th century entertainment at work.--Piers Ford
DVD Special Features:
Picture: PAL 4:3
Black & White
Region Codes: 2,3,4,5,6
50 mins (approx)
Languages: English L-PCM Stereo from original mono source
Subtitles: English song lyrics and subtitles; Francais; Espanol; Deutsch; Italiano