• Sinatra In Palm Springs: The Place He Called Home (Shout Factory) Blu-Ray Review

    Released By: Shout Factory
    Released On: June 11, 2019
    Director: Leo Zahn
    Cast: Barbara Sinatra, Tom Dreesen, Trini Lopez
    Year: 2018

    Sinatra In Palm Springs - Movie Review:

    Most people associate stage and screen star Frank Sinatra with Beverly Hills and Las Vegas, with the image of Ol' Blue Eyes and his fellow Rat Packers whooping it up in Sin City, cocktails in hand. But for a good chunk of his life, Frank found solace in the friendly and slowly expanding city of Palm Springs, California, a place where everybody knew his name, but also had the decency to give the celebrity the privacy he desperately needed.

    Introduced to Palm Springs by Composer Jimmy Van Heusen, it's not difficult to see why the city was so attractive to Sinatra, with it's view of the mountains and the surrounding Coachella Valley, not to mention a year-round temperature that betrayed not a shade of winter; and, of course, were the numerous prestigious resorts and fame-filled hotspots; Frank recognized a good thing immediately, and set up shop in a trendy, modern statement of architecture (Designed by prolific architect E. Stewart Williams). The infamous Raquet Club, the Shadow Mountain Club, The Thunderbird Golf and Country Club all became hangouts of Frank's, and, being a short drive to Hollywood, it wasn't long before even more celebrities from Tinseltown became regular visitors to the desert mecca.

    Frank ended his marriage to first wife Nancy here,lived out his famously explosive marriage to Ava Gardner here, throwing dishes around as it suited him, saw his stalled career get a kick in the pants during his time here (courtesy of the film, From Here To Eternity), and no doubt pissed more than a few people off when he jumped ship from the swanky yet restricted ("No Jewish Members") Thunderbird Country Club, to take sides with Danny Kaye and members of the Marx Brothers at the Tamarisk Country Club in nearby Rancho Mirage. It was here that Frank moved next, installing a massive train set in his home and making the short trip back into Palm Springs to frequent hot spots like The Purple Room and Club Trinidad.

    With stories told through on-screen interviews with people in the know; Frank's last wife, Barbara, musician friend Trini Lopez, comedian Tom Dreesen, and a whole lot of other folks, Sinatra in Palm Springs overflows with information that fans of the crooner will no doubt find interesting. Filling out 90+ minutes with stories does prove to be a bit much as some of the more tabloidy bits get illustrated by cheesy reenactments, but there's a good wealth of information to be found about Frank's years in his desert home.

    Of course, the other subject of the film is Palm Springs and surround area, and Zahn has done a fantastic job of capturing the beauty of the location described with modern, sweeping drone footage to take the viewer across golf courses and shopping areas, right up to the houses that Frank occupied. This too does get a little trying after 90 minutes, with many cutbacks to these slow-moving film inserts with intrusive, jazzy scores. To Zahn's credit, he does attempt to break even that footage up by inserting clips from films of the time that feature many of the locations in and around Palm Springs.

    Overall, Sinatra in Palm Springs has the credibility through it's contributors to succeed as an official document; and commendations are deserved for documenting Sinatra's hangouts through recent footage, especially that which shows the preservation of some of these structures; but the film does hang around for about twenty minutes longer than it really needs to. However, being that it's a fairly thorough look at a time and place that doesn't get a lot of attention, the film is definitely worth a look.

    Sinatra In Palm Springs - Blu-Ray Review:

    Shout Factory brings Sinatra In Palm Springs to blu-ray with a 1.78:1 AVC-encoded transfer that suits the material just fine. Modern footage, most likely courtesy of some kind of HD drone, looks crisp and colourful for the most part, though there are some minor issues with bright lines as the image pans. The film is also made up of a lot of early clips and photos, which don't fare as well, but that's to be expected. Overall, this is very watchable and not hard on the eyes.

    Audio is provided via English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0 tracks. Both are perfectly serviceable with well-balanced dialogue and score. I didn't notice too terribly much different between the two tracks, and there's no hiss, pop or distortion present on either. English subtitles are available if you want them.

    Extras are made up for the most part of very short excerpts from the film: The Actor (2:22) features friend and comedian Tom Dreesen talking about Frank's approach to acting; in one of his films, anyway. The Compound (3:08) is more drone footage of Rancho Mirage. Sinatra Style (1:52) features friends and associates discussing Frank's wardrobe, and Travelling in Style (1:58) is a short piece on Sinatra's Jet. The Best Tipper (1:39) talks about Frank's habit of leaving 100 dollar tips, The Worst Driver (2:58) is a first-hand account of Frank's terrible driving skills, while Golf Tournament and Jack Daniels (3:27) talks about...you guessed it, Sinatra's golf tournament and his love of JD. Friendships (1:43) has an anecdote about Frank's value on friendships, and Funeral (3:48) once again features Tom Dreesen giving a first-hand account of Frank's funeral, at which he was a pallbearer. Some of these extras are interesting to see, but at just over 22 minutes, these excerpts would have been more conveniently presented as one continuous video with chapter stops, instead of an effort to look like a wealth of supplements.

    A Trailer rounds out the extras.

    Sinatra In Palm Springs - The Final Word:

    An interesting concept, this one unfortunately loses momentum far before the end. Too much drone footage, a lot of back and forth, and a few too many clips of vintage films; there's a story in here, but it could have been told in a much shorter span of time.

    Click on the images below for full sized Sinatra In Palm Springs Blu-ray screen caps!