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Sinatra in Hollywood Hardcover – November 11, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Santopietro, who spent two decades as the manager of two dozen Broadway shows, has previously delivered well-received biographical career assessments of Doris Day and Barbra Streisand. Although Sinatra is covered in countless books, including several focusing on his films, Santopietro's approach attempts to seamlessly blend Sinatra's life, movies and public persona. Sinatra's tough-guy behavior masked a wounding tenderness, observed ex-wife Mia Farrow, and an underlying thesis of this book is that a similar quality permeated his onscreen characters, confident and brash, yet very often vulnerable. Striving for honest critiques and a witty, encyclopedic coverage, Santopietro begins with Sinatra's 1935 short subjects; dances through the grandiose 1940s MGM musicals; documents Sinatra's professional and personal despair and decline in such giant turkey disasters as The Kissing Bandit (1948); and analyzes his Oscar-winning comeback in From Here to Eternity (1953). The book verges on the speculative (Sinatra sensed...) as it bounces from heavy hype (one of the immortals) to pseudo-hip—in a writing style that sometimes works and sometimes simply annoys. Despite such lapses, this mammoth movie compendium, filled with forgotten facts, 53 b&w photos and a detailed filmography, is certain to satisfy Sinatra's legions of fans. (Nov. 11)
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Sinatra’s reputation as America’s greatest pop singer has overshadowed his equally impressive accomplishments as an actor. Santopietro aims to rectify that situation in a biography emphasizing Sinatra’s movies. From his earliest roles, audiences responded well to his screen image of the tough-yet-vulnerable loner, which became his public persona as well. When his recording career hit the skids—along with his movie career, after such bombs as The Kissing Bandit—his Oscar-winning turn in From Here to Eternity put him permanently back on track. Equally impressive roles in such acclaimed films as The Man with the Golden Arm and The Manchurian Candidate followed, and if he began to stop caring by the mid-1960s, his later movies, especially with the Rat Pack, have their charms. With generally incisive readings of the films and a firm grasp of the familiar biographical material, Santopietro makes a compelling argument for Sinatra’s status as a great actor too often saddled with sub-par material, who, contrary to his reputation for indifference, took his film work seriously, knowing that movie stardom “could ensure his immortality.” --Gordon Flagg
Top customer reviews
The only issue I had is the author's often preachy political correctness when complaining of negative racial stereotypes prevalent in films during Hollywood's heyday. Historians and biographers need to stop using 21st-century standards to judge the past and those who came before us. In 50 years, I'm sure some biographer will have something bad to say about our standards today even though we strongly defend those same standards now. Any film fan reading the book knows the stereotypes regrettably existed and doesn't want to believe that the author assumes all readers are blind to, or ignorant of, the past. Times have mercifully changed, but please don't gratuitously preach to the reader about a history that can't be re-written.