"Frank Sinatra All or Nothing at All," airing Sunday and Monday on HBO, is a tune-filled celebration of one of the greatest popular singers of all time, a man who was born 100 years ago this year in Hoboken, N.J., dropped out of high school to become a singer and came to embody the American dream.
Working with producer Frank Marshall, Alex Gibney uses the 11 songs of Sinatra's so-called retirement concert in Los Angeles in 1971 to structure the chapters of the singer's life.
Sinatra was at a low point in his life and career in 1971. He'd been in the business since he was a teenager, had evolved with musical styles through the bobby-soxer phase in the '40s, through his pairing with conductor arranger Nelson Riddle in the '50s and into the '60s, swinging with the Rat Pack.
Charlton Heston once said that every Sinatra song was like a four-minute movie, because of the emotional truth he invested in the performance.
Rock 'n' roll had nothing to offer a singer like Sinatra, so, at 55, he chose 11 songs for the '71 farewell gig that he felt encapsulated his life and career.
The film follows the ups and downs of Sinatra's personal life as well as his career. After 12 years of marriage and three children, he divorced Nancy Barbato Sinatra to marry actress Ava Gardner.
In the end, what we know best about the real Sinatra comes from the music. He did it his way, and no one has ever come close to replicating it.
San Francisco Chronicle