November 10, 2007

Las Vegas Then and Now

Reading the awesome book Las Vegas Then and Now makes me yearn for a time machine to travel back to the Vegas of the '50s and '60s. I wish I could have seen Fremont Street before it became an "experience."

I'd love to be able to stroll around (in a rapturous daze), armed with digital camera, soaking up that old Vegas style and ambiance. But, alas, no more.

Fremont Street in 1952

Obviously any visit to old Vegas would have to include a tour of all the old casinos on the old Vegas strip, so well immortalized in the original Ocean's 11. This gives me an excuse to include this repost, "EEE-O-Eleven":

Things to love about Ocean's 11:

  • the opening Saul Bass credits sequence with animated neon syncopated to the swingin', Nelson Riddle conducted version of the theme. Koo-koo.

  • Frank Sinatra's orange sweater (orange was his favorite color; he called it a "happy" color)

    It's good to be the king!

  • Josh Howard (Sammy Davis, Jr.) belting out the theme song, "EEE-O Eleven." Listen to the version he released at the time here.

  • coming as close as one ever will to hanging with "The Summit" (a.k.a. the Rat Pack, a name they rejected outright as a media created label)

    Applicants must be able to breathe pure cigarette smoke for hours at a time.

  • finally, after an hour (yawn), the heist is agreed upon by all (the eleven)

  • my God! Vegas in the late '50s!!! All of the following is long gone.

    Note the Silver Slipper in the left background.

    Patrice Munsel must have been hot shiat to have Buddy Hackett as "extra added". I am the Bill Snyder of bloggers.

    I've lightened this one to reveal the camel statues in the right foreground.

    Those are no longer empty lots, that's for sure. Notice the billboard announcing the Mint, which certainly is no more.

    Note the giant genie keeping watch over the Dunes.

  • it's full of great little moments and cameo appearances

    Red Skelton (playing himself) cutting in front of Danny Ocean (Sinatra) at the chip cashing window

    Sam Harmon (Dean Martin) and the Red Norvo Quintet doing a swingin', vibe-heavy version of "Ain't That a Kick in the Head". Awesome. Koo-koo, even.

    Sinatra looking right into the camera

    Shirley MacLaine at her cutest (she was the only "dame/broad" allowed, and was the Rat Pack's "mascot"; she appeared earlier in Some Came Running with Sinatra and Martin in 1958)

    a slightly jumpy Jimmy Foster (Peter Lawford) being "held up" by an animatronic Santa after the heist


  • the final sequence, complete with the shot that inspired Quentin Tarantino's similar sequence in Reservoir Dogs

    Related post: "James Bond in Vegas"
  • No comments: