Blu-ray Reviews (#110 of 1)

It Had to Be Frank Sinatra Tony Rome and Lady in Cement on Blu-ray

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It Had to Be Frank Sinatra: Tony Rome and Lady in Cement on Blu-ray

20th Century Fox

It Had to Be Frank Sinatra: Tony Rome and Lady in Cement on Blu-ray

In Tony Rome and its sequel, Lady in Cement, Frank Sinatra tries to wear his boredom with the projects as a fashionably manly testament to his unimpeachable legacy as Chairman of the Board. He doesn't so much act in director Gordon Douglas's films as move through them, overseeing them, regarding his co-stars as he might have particularly irritating fans: as necessarily negotiated evils for the sake of living the life of Frank Sinatra. Even by the standards of icons, Sinatra's ego is stifling in these films, for reasons pertaining both to politics and basic aesthetics.

The political resonance of Sinatra's sleepwalking is unsubtly reactionary. Tony Rome and Lady in Cement were released in 1967 and 1968, respectively, when the counterculture was gaining brief prominence in pop culture, which is to say that Sinatra's unconquerable heteronormative white he-man shtick (which had less to do with any particular performance than with a cumulative image) might have been wearing thin. This is about the time when it was growing less acceptable to call women “broads” while slapping them on the ass, expecting only their come-hither gratitude in return. But that's precisely what Sinatra's Tony Rome, P.I. for hire, gets away with in both films, as he's defensively reasserting the old school's right to do whatever it pleases to whomever it pleases. Besides embarrassing zoom shots of women's derrieres, there are also unseemly jokes about escalating concerns over police brutality, and at the expense of men who're coded as gay and those who burn their draft cards out of protest, which predictably show no sympathy for anyone who might have a problem with how the Man operates.