Description: This is a series of snapshots of big-league showbiz in the 1950s, set well apart from the timeless concept albums that Sinatra was recording at Capitol at the time. Here, side by side with some of the biggest singing stars of the time, Sinatra interacts easily, wisecracking at his partners, rarely missing a beat, the consummate pro making it sound easy. Some of the duets are quite brief -- the number with Louis Prima lasts only a minute -- and lyrics are changed constantly to reflect something that may have been topical or personal at the time. The sound is not unexpectedly variable from track to track -- mono of course, but always listenable. Not all of the pairings strike fire; the "If I Loved You" duet with Shirley Jones -- the original matchup for the film Carousel (Sinatra walked out early in the production) -- is a mismatch of styles. The teenaged Nancy Sinatra can be heard in her pre-"Boots" manner, trying to stay afloat in Dad's big-band idiom. Yet Sinatra does manage to interact with Ethel Merman, who always keeps going one way like a Sherman tank. It's always a treat to hear Sinatra kidding around with Dean Martin, or cracking up Dinah Shore in the middle of a seamlessly linked medley.
Director: David Leaf, John Scheinfeld
Writers: David Leaf, John Scheinfeld
Stars: Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, The Hi-Lo's, Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Shore, Peggy Lee, Nancy Sinatra, Tri-Tones, The McGuire Sisters, Shirley Jones, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Ethel Merman, Louis Prima, Keely Smith, Lena Horne, Elvis Presley, Peggy Lee (vocals).
Tags: top film, music, Frank Sinatra: The Classic Duets
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