Last Friday Robert Habermann returned to the Underground Theatre to revisit the Frank Sinatra songbook this time concentrating on his film roles. Through songs and anecdotes he traced Sinatra’s on-screen career supported by an excellent accompanist on a grand piano who curiously was never named.
Following Sinatra’s success as a band singer he was a natural choice for musicals where he was given romantic songs such as I Fall In Love Too Easily and energetic dance numbers like New York New York with Gene Kelly in On The Town.
His career nosedived in the early fifties although it was good to be reminded of a film from that time Meet Danny Wilson in which he played (not for the last time) a singer on the make, although he was seriously at odds with his co-star, a young Shelley Winters.
Following his Oscar-winning performance in From Here To Eternity his career revived and reached its peak with Guys And Dolls, Pal Joey and High Society.
The rest of the fifties were successful including three Oscar-winning songs All The Way, High Hopes and Three Coins In The Fountain, all with words by Sammy Cahn. The decade ended with the Cole Porter vehicle Can Can although to spoil Mr Habermann’s anecdote the Soviet President Kruschev banged his shoe on the table at the UN in New York not in protest at the high-kicking dancers he saw when he visited the set in Hollywood! The Rat Pack featured in his musical film swansong Robin And The Seven Hoods but the only appropriate way to end the evening was a performance of the second New York, New York even though it was sung on screen by Lisa Minnelli.
This makes me wonder if there could be another evening featuring Sinatra songs from films he did not appear in such as Strangers In The Night and Angel Eyes. By John Bassett.