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Rat Pack: The True Stories of the Original Kings of Cool
Rat Pack The True Stories of the Original Kings of Cool
Genres: Television, Documentary
NR     2001     3hr 20min

In the heyday of Vegas, the Rat Pack--Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop--were royalty. This series uses performance clips, archival footage and home movies to profile the legendary...  more »


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Movie Details

Genres: Television, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Television, Documentary
Studio: A&E Home Video
Format: DVD - Black and White,Color
DVD Release Date: 08/28/2001
Release Year: 2001
Run Time: 3hr 20min
Screens: Black and White,Color
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
Edition: Box set
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

A Rat Pack must, but DVD lacks extras
Jayson A. Olson | Rancho Santa Margarita, CA | 08/07/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"At slightly over 3 and one half hours, this two-disc set in a direct transfer from the A&E Biography series sans any commercials. Each disc contains 2 episodes, in which you have a choice of playing both back to back, one at a time, or basic scene selection. No frills here.Narrated by Danny Aiello, this series delves deep into the lives and personalities of the four main Rat Pack players: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Peter Lawford. Very little is given on Joey Bishop (the 5th member). Along with the rise and fall of these greats and all the troubles in between, we are also treated to some detailed background histories on Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis, and Frank Sinatra and Hollywood legend Ava Gardner (Frank's 2nd wife). There's a bit to detail Peter Lawford's life and loves as well and how he gets wrapped up into the Kennedy family and a triangle with Frank.This series is filled with rare footage highlighting many points (and again lows) in each of their careers, and there are many great stories told in interview style by Angie Dickinson, Tony Curtis, Milton Berle, singer Keely Smith and many other legendary singers and actors. Mixed into these interviews are serious and sometimes comical stories on practical jokes, heated tensions, personal issues of the group and spotlights on others that traveled at times with the Rat Pack including mobster Sonny Dimato and Jimmy Durante.The 4 episodes do their best to keep things chronological; however, (and for obvious reasons) do jump around from time to time only to paint a nice solid picture of a story that may span years. The series in total seems to focus primarily on Sinatra, and interlaces his story with the others.All in all an excellent series though Joey Bishop gets the short end of the stick in this biography, but is about Frank, Dean, and Sammy isn't it?However, I was a bit disappointed with the lack of any extras for a DVD. When this show was being produced, you know A&E had tons of more footage, interviews, and information they had to edit out for a hour long episode. With the amount of space on a DVD, they could have easily supplied a photo gallery, a snazzy interactive or animated menu, and I would have loved to seen some un-edited clips of some concerts or `Summit' highlights, but alas, A&E Biography opted to do just a direct transfer of the VHS episodes to DVD....a shame. It would have been really nice if they included an episode of the Dean Martin show, or a Sinatra special or even filmographies of the Rat Pack players."
Astounding in it's length, depth & insight
MilesAndTrane | Chicago, Il USA | 01/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Why A&E would devote the same length of time to a biography on The Rat Pack as they would to the Civil War, the American Mafia or the history of locomotive trains is beyond me - I'm just grateful & amazed that they did. Clocking in at over 3 and 1/2 hours, this expansive insight into "the greatest party in showbiz" knows no bounds. Intimately narrated by actor Danny Aiello, A&E dives deep into the history of America's first celebrity gang. Covering everything from Sinatra's tortuous break-up from Hollywood sex siren Ava Gardner to Dean Martin's accidental alliance with comedian Jerry Lewis, this biography covers it all. It is deftly composed, and never bores. The first hour of the documentary shuttles back & forth between chronicling the rise of Las Vegas - the Rat Pack's playground, and the individual careers of each Rat Pack member. A&E spends generous time on each member - the turbulent highs & lows of Frank Sinatra, the easy-does-it success of Dean Martin, the desperate ascension of actor Peter Lawford, and most importantly, the barrier-breaking accomplishments of the multi-talented Sammy Davis, Jr. Only standup comic Joey Bishop is shy of biographical information (he is introduced much later in the documentary when Sinatra began assembling his "summit" crew). As usual with A&E biographies, there is a wealth of rare footage here. Utilizing countless film reels; summit performances, Peter Lawford sitcoms, Martin & Lewis television specials, etc. You see a rare glimpse into the performing life of each member.Also an A&E is custom is the absense of interviews with its biography subjects (everyone but Joey Bishop is dead anyway). Instead, we rely on the funny memories of many Rat Pack insiders & biographers to fill in the details, even though we'll never really get to know about the late-night parties Sinatra held in Las Vegas. Among its interviewees are Sammy Davis' mother, Rat Pack actors Janet Leigh, Tony Curtis and Angie Dickinson, as well as Rat Pack performers Sonny King, Keely Smith, Claude Trenier and Pat Cooper. Milton Berle and Jerry Lewis also provide insights (Lewis is particularly candid about the nature of the public's reception to "the Martin & Lewis magic" - regretfully taking much credit for their audience's delight). Other people interviewed include historians and even bartenders. If you want to see the source of all the magic and are short of patience to settle on HBO's film of the same name, this is your ticket."
The "Summit" Continues
Scott T. Rivers | Los Angeles, CA USA | 09/06/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"After seeing HBO's disappointing "Rat Pack" movie, it was nice to encounter this four-part A&E documentary. Running nearly 3 1/2 hours, it traces the origins of the Rat Pack from the days of Bogart and Skinny D'Amato. The documentary contains a wealth of show-biz and political history, with rare footage of the 1960 Summit in Las Vegas and the star-studded Democratic fund-raiser organized by Frank Sinatra. The interviews with Keely Smith, Janet Leigh, Tony Curtis and Sonny King are particularly revealing. Unfortunately, there is a lack of archival interviews with Frank, Dean, Sammy, Peter and Joey. Danny Aiello's narration is OK, but could have used a little more pizzazz. For those who were not around during the Rat Pack's heyday, this DVD package is a valuable document of a bygone era."
A must for any Rat Pack fan!
Scott Leopold | Dayton, Ohio USA | 12/25/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This DVD set is a worthwhile investment for any fan. This is an informative and fun documentary that provides plenty of background, although is a little light on their years together. Not surprisingly, Frank & Dean receive the bulk of the spotlight, with only Joey Bishop possibly being slighted. This is a great introduction for new fans, and great fun for anyone who likes this great group of entertainers!"