May 14, 2009

Being perfectly Frank

I've always felt the Beatles' story, if done right, would make an excellent film. And the only director I thought could do it well (in my humble onion) would be Martin Scorsese (or maybe Oliver Stone). But Scorsese has always been more about the Stones than the Fabs. As you may have already seen, various sources are reporting the very hopeful news that Scorsese is in the process of putting together a project based on the life of Frank Sinatra. Apparently he's a fan, so that's encouraging. I don't know what the source material, if any, is, but Phil Robinson (Field of Dreams) is currently mentioned as the screenwriter. That could be interesting!

So the obvious question now with something like this is what actor will portray the legendary crooner? Or might it be a few different actors, seeing as Sinatra's career spanned five decades? I can't think of anyone who could pull it off. Leonardo DiCaprio's name is being thrown around as a candidate, and because he is currently Scorsese's celluloid alter-ego/muse, it would appear to be a possibility. I'd say the casting of the lead part would present one of the biggest challenges to making the film. For example, it doesn't appear as if anyone has even been cast in Chris Tucker's next film, Mr. S: My Life with Frank Sinatra. I think it's best they get some unknown, but I'm just some guy in Nacogdoches, Texas. WTF do I know??

So let's do a brief review...who has portrayed "The Voice" before?

Philip Casnoff did a really great job in 1992 playing the young crooner in the mini-series Sinatra. He was handpicked by the series' producer, Tina Sinatra, for the role. And although not obvious in this clip, he had quirks, like the thing Sinatra would do occasionally with his lower lip, down pat:

Dennis Hopper, in The Night We Called It a Day, a.k.a. All the Way (2003), captured the sort of creepy, menacing vibe Sinatra could give off during his last couple of decades, and may have proven that an Italian doesn't necessarily have to do it.

Speaking of having a creepy, menacing vibe, there was James Russo's great interpretation in the Frank, Jr. kidnapping comedy, Stealing Sinatra (2003).

The late, great Phil Hartman just nailed the cliched impression my g-g-generation had of the white toupe wearing, omnipresent tuxedo clad, mafioso thug relic/anachronism:

But, by far, my favorite impression of Frank Sinatra so far was done by a Scorsese alum, Ray Liotta, in The Rat Pack. He got to play Frank at the same point in his life as Hartman did, and he got to play Sinatra at perhaps his most swingin' period, during the heyday of the Summit. Now, I never actually believed he was Sinatra (unlike, say, Val Kilmer as Mr. Mojo Risin' in The Doors), but he has done the best job of coming close to Sinatra of what I've seen, so far:

Whoever it turns out to be, GOOD LUCK, Jack!


Amy said...

Harry Connick Jr. comes to mind, but he'd have to be a brilliant actor to overcome his Lousiana drawl and languid nature to become a tough guy from Joisey. I don't think he's that brilliant an actor as he is a jazz musician.

I sure hope it isn't Leonardo Man-Child. He's definitely jumped the shark.

Chris said...

Amy, Harry Connick Jr. has certainly come closest of anyone to being sort of like Sinatra in his actual career -- he could sing and did some acting. He just doesn't look anything like him. That has to be somewhat of a priority. DiCaprio is just too famous. It would be like Spacey playing Bobby Darin. The people behind this proposed biopic should be doing a worldwide talent search for an unknown.

Debra said...

Harry came to my mind as well, but he may not have the strength and depth of acting ability to fully get entrenched in the role, ala Will & Grace as exhibit 1.

The next name that popped into my small mind was Joachim Phoenix. He did an amazing Johnny Cash. Based on his current personality excursion into the world of rap and freak, he could quite possible clean up well and pull it off as he has proven to the world he is capable of all types of personalities. Robert Downey Jr. may also be an interesting candidate.

They will have to be extemely careful in the selection. Frank is important to many, so they need to select the perfect actor. Good enough wouldn't do in this case.

Just as long as it's not Leonardo.

Anonymous said...

I think Johnny Depp would be a good candidate, we know that he can pull it off with style and i think he will give it the neccessary attention to detail, he can act, he can sing, and is a good mafioso type. I also agree with Jaquin Phoenix.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Chris they should do a worldwide talent search to cast the right person...and i agree with the author that RAY LIOTTA did a beautiful job of playing Sinatra...he truly is an amazing actor.