The Rat Pack--make that Rat Packs--is...er, are...back.

Currently filming in Hollywood: The Rat Pack, an HBO TV movie about the Viva Las Vegas exploits of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., et swingin' al.

Airing Monday (9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT) on Nick at Nite's TV Land: Frank, Dean & Sammy: An Evening with the Rat Pack, the TV premiere of the only known at-length footage of the boys in all their tuxedoed, 100-proof, nightclub glory.

And on the drawing board: a Martin Scorsese biopic about Dino, with Tom Hanks rumored--but not confirmed--to be buttoning up the singer's cufflinks.

That's three--count 'em, three--Pack projects. A freakin' jackpot. As Martin used to woozily ask: "How'd everybody get in my room?"

Such things can't be explained. They just are. One day, you're a dinosaur--as Sinatra's cool clan was in the late 1960s and 1970s. The next, you're retro hip.

The best clues to the appeal of the Pack are to be had in Frank, Dean & Sammy.

Originally titled, The Frank Sinatra Spectacular, the 90-minute special is a June 1965 benefit that the trio performed in St. Louis and beamed live, via closed circuit, to audiences at movie theaters in other major U.S. cities.

The show, with freshly minted Tonight Show host Johnny Carson as emcee and 32-year-old Quincy Jones as conductor, was never broadcast on TV. The footage resurfaced last year when the Museum of Television & Radio unearthed it for screenings in New York and Los Angeles.

"I have never appeared onstage with a drink in my hand before," Carson tells the St. Louis crowd, "and the only reason I do so now is to set the stage."

It's an apt setup for the show: Dean does a set with whiskey glass in hand. ("I don't drink anymore. I freeze it now, and I eat it like a Popsicle.")

Sammy does a set with burning cigarette in hand. ("Which way is the audience, pal?")

Frank, the leader, does a set dry, no vices. ("Where's the bar?") Accordingly, his cronies show up--drinks in hand--and it's boozy gags and giggles 'til the finale: "Birth of the Blues."

All in all, a pretty accurate record of the gang's Vegas shows at the Sands. Minus Peter Lawford (who got on Sinatra's bad side in 1962) and Joey Bishop (who injured his back and got subbed by Carson).

"It's the real thing," daughter Nancy Sinatra writes on her Website.

Nancy and Frank's family have less kind words for the HBO Pack project, starring Ray Liotta as Sinatra, Joe Mantegna as Martin and Don Cheadle as Davis. ("Based on cartoonish, ill-conceived caricatures that would be out of place even in a Simpsons episode," Nancy opines.)

The film's makers beg to differ. They think they're making a flick about "male bonding."

"It seemed like these guys were having a great time, excess was the name of the game," producer Neal Moritz tells The New York Times. "It was actually kind of an innocent time."

The Rat Pack. Innocence. What a concept.

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share

We and our partners use cookies on this site to improve our service, perform analytics, personalize advertising, measure advertising performance, and remember website preferences. By using the site, you consent to these cookies. For more information on cookies including how to manage your consent visit our Cookie Policy.