Blu-ray Review: Ocean’s 11 (50th Anniversary Edition)

Written by Blu-ray Reviews, Film

Ocean’s 11 (Warner Bros., 1960)

They’re a pop culture institution — hell, they’re heroes to some people — but the Rat Pack really  didn’t make that many movies as a unit. Only two, to be exact, and of the pair, only 1960’s Ocean’s 11 has retained any lasting value. (Sergeants 3, released two years later, is a Gunga Din remake that’s as wretched as it sounds.) The kind of movie that’s considered a classic for reasons having little to do with the movie itself, the original Ocean’s may not be an objectively great film, but it’s turning 50 in style, with this new Blu-ray transfer.

Synopsis: New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas. Roulette wheels spin, cards snap, slots chime, champagne fizzes, the shows go on…and the lights go out. It’s the perfect time to steal a kiss or a $25 chip. But for Danny Ocean (Frank Sinatra) and his 10 partners in crime, it’s the perfect moment to steal millions.

Sinatra and off-screen pals Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop and more play army buddies who devise a scheme to knock out power to the Vegas strip, electronically rig five big casino vaults and raid them all at the same instant. Packed with location-lensed glamour, sweaty suspense, swinging comedy and a stunning twist ending! Video: Warner Bros. does catalog reissues right, and at least in terms of picture quality, the Ocean’s 11 Blu-ray is no different: while you’ll still see the occasional bit of noise, that’s to be expected from a movie this old. Packed in a no-frills clamshell and devoid of much in the way of bonus features (more on that in a minute), this is clearly a budget reissue — but the studio spent their money where it mattered, right there on the screen. Given that this is a movie that’s never looked all that great to begin with, the improvement is impressive.

Audio: The Ocean’s 11 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray opts for faithfulness over home theater oomph, packing a DTS-HD Master Audio mono mix that preserves the sounds of the original, for better and for worse. If you’ve loved the movie for years, you’ll no doubt appreciate the mono mix, but don’t expect it to blow you away, or do much with your speakers. That’s mono, folks. Maybe for the 75th anniversary reissue, we’ll get a 5.1 mix to go with the original.

Special Features: Negligible. If you purchased the 2002 DVD release, you’ve seen and heard everything here, from the Frank Sinatra Jr./Angie Dickinson audio commentary to the smattering of brief “Las Vegas: Then and Now” videos to the Tonight Show clip featuring Sinatra and Dickinson.

Bottom Line: The Rat Pack cultivated a hard-partying, easy-come/easy-go image, and the original Ocean’s 11 reflects that — again, for better and for worse. Where it succeeds, it succeeds because the cast is clearly having a blast; where it fails, it fails because nobody really cared enough to make a great movie. The storyline is padded with flab, characters who bubble up and disappear (most notably Dickinson, who really should be in the movie longer as Sinatra’s ex-wife), and a generally logy pace. Most remakes are pretty rank, but the 2001 Ocean’s is one example of an improvement on the original.

Still, the 1960 Ocean’s 11 isn’t without its charms; it’s a goofy trifle of a heist flick, perfect for whiling away a couple of hours or pining away for the days when men were men and broads were dames. For $19.99, you could easily do worse.

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