Back in the Very Old School days, there was a stock character. He was the Tough Guy. Some of the biggest names in Hollywood played that role. But there were few actors who could pull off the Jinxed Tough Guy the way Frank Sinatra could. From his performance in “From Here to Eternity” to “Young at Heart” to “Pal Joey”, Sinatra made us feel for this tough guy who could break your heart.
Sure, there were Humphrey Bogart and Jimmy Cagney, Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas. But it was Sinatra who gave us the underside of the tough-guyness. He taught us not to envy those guys, but feel compassion for them.
Few movies capture the vulnerability and the sensitivity of this jinxed character than Young at Heart. From the moment that Sinatra shows up at Doris Day’s front door, there is doom and gloom written all over him. There’s no way this guy is good for an All-American girl like Doris. No way you’d let your daughter marry him, much less date him. Sinatra’s Barney Sloan steps through that door and casts his dark shadow over Doris’ sweetness and light for the rest of the movie.
There is one scene that gives the viewer the essence of Frank Sinatra. He is at the piano in a bar, singing “One for my baby”. This is a singer who gives us his loneliness and his vulnerability all in less than three minutes.
When I first saw this scene, I was hooked on Sinatra, and this is the Sinatra I continue to listen to. Nobody has ever given me a definition of loneliness the way Sinatra did in this one scene. In those few minutes, Sinatra just breaks your heart.
What is the hardest thing about being alone?