Robin and the 7 Hoods was the third in the trilogy of films starring various combinations of the Rat Pack, with the first two being Ocean's 11 (1960) and 4 for Texas (1963). In my opinion Ocean's 11 is by far the best, Robin and the 7 Hoods next, with 4 for Texas stinking up the rear in a distant third.
Peter Lawford isn't in either of the follow-ups to Ocean's 11. Sinatra was a vengeful guy, and felt Lawford had crossed him in a situation* with President John F. Kennedy (a pally of Sinatra's who he would call "Chickie Baby", to his face). And, the JFK debacle wasn't the first strike against Lawford, as far as Sinatra was concerned. His "punishment" was essentially banishment from Sinatra's world, and as Dean Martin said, "It's Frank's world, and we're just living in it." While that may not have been true, I think Lawford (Sinatra called him Brother-in-Lawford) believed it. Sinatra did in fact remove Lawford from both Robin and the 7 Hoods and 4 for Texas, never took his calls or saw him again.
*Brother-in-law Robert Kennedy's objections to Sinatra's alleged Mafia connections (specifically associating with Sam Giancana) led to Kennedy staying at Bing Crosby's place instead of Sinatra's when Kennedy made a visit to the West Coast. Sinatra had completely redone his Palm Springs place for Kennedy, who he was expecting as a guest. He even had a helipad built to specification for the President's helicopter.
The theme song is an instrumental version of "My Kind of Town", by Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen. This is a musical in the "traditional" sense.
With the addition of Nelson Riddle doing the conducting and arranging, it truly was a Sinatra production.
Peter Falk has a part as the antagonist, Guy Gisborne. At the beginning of the film, Chicago's crime boss, "Big Jim", has been murdered. Sinatra's character, Robbo, is suspicious of Gisborne, who has taken over for the dead crime boss. Robbo and his hoods pay Gisborne a visit.
Sinatra looks great, at 48-years-old. His commitment to maintaining his natural tan pays off on film and stage, because he rarely needed any makeup. There's something undeniably "weighty" about his first appearance in the film. It's probably the first day of filming in which Sinatra was actually present and on set. The actors look a little bit frightened, or maybe on edge (particularly in the second one above, top row). Ol' Blue Eyes had that kind of effect on people. I always have a moment of thinking "It's Frank Sinatra!" anytime I see him in something. You can imagine what it might have been like for movie goers back in 1964.
Sammy Davis, Jr. (as Will) and Peter Falk being together in the same film must be a record for the most glass eyes (being used as intended) in a scene at one time.
"Who killed Big Jim?"
Gisborne eludes the question, talking, instead, of how he wants to unite all the "organizations", and be the first leader of the new "union", its George Washington.
Robbo tells him to: "Stay out of the Northside (Robbo's turf). You come over there like George Washington, I send you back like Abe Lincoln."
In hindsight of what will occur during the filming on November 22, 1963, that's a fairly tasteless line in the script.
The burial of Big Jim:
This scene was filmed in an actual cemetery, on November 22, 1963. They heard the news via a car radio. Sinatra insisted the production continue.
It does make you wonder what Sinatra was thinking during scenes like this:
Later, Little John (Dean Martin) shows up at Robbo's club, looking for "the boss".
Little John chalks his finger while asking a cocktail waitress where the boss is. Note Martin's tan. He, like Sinatra, was a dedicated sun worshiper, for the very same reason (avoidance of makeup on stage or movie set)
Little John and Robbo meet. They play pool, and Little John wins $30,000.
Little John earns Robbo's respect with the pool victory, and Robbo invites him to his room to talk business.
And here is how you know these guys could actually act, because Frank, as Robbo, asks Dean, as Little John, with a straight face: "Are you a drinking man?"
Martin answers in a hushed, nearly reverential tone:
Robbo offers Little John a place in his gang. He also tells Little John of his concerns that Guy Gisborne (Peter Falk) might try to take over the Northside (Robbo's turf).
Little John explains: "When your opponent is sitting there...
...holding all of the aces...
...there's only one thing left to do...
...kick over the table."
Basically, Little John proposes that they hit Gisborne, and take over the organization before Gisborne has a chance to hit Robbo,
It's sort of a variation of the Bush Administration's pre-emptive strike policy.
We'll see how it works out in part two. Hopefully better than it did for Bush in Iraq.