Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: Tough Guy Makes Good

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is

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 can just breaks your heart.

What is the hardest thing about being alone?

Listening to Sinatra

Listening to Sinatra, Blue Eyes
sipping his blues on the rocks, cigarette smoke
curling up into another September song,
three a. m. in his soul in some half forgotten
side street bar, alone and far from eternity
on the nightside of town. Just listen:

to the Sultan of Swoon with the Dorsey swing,
to the Hollywood songs by The Voice,
to the loss and heart aches remembered
as the music ripened, a fine wine aged.
Frank, like DiMaggio, perfect grace and style,
this Hoboken kid sure made Little Italy proud.

All “high hopes,” “young at heart” and counting
his “pennies from heaven” those very good years
“the summer wind blew” as he flew us to the moon
“nice ‘n’ easy” on The “Guys and Dolls” Express.
Sang those “old black magic,” street-of-dreams tunes
his way, Pal Joey in Vegastown.

Luck was his lady a second time around
during the Rat Pack days of Frank, Sammy
and Dean, his “Oceans Eleven” gang playing
“Robin and the Seven Hoods” just for laughs.
With his gambler’s heart he threw the dice
and scored a great American songbook.

“There used to be a ballpark” where he sang
of Emily and Nancy with the laughing face.
Then the autumn days, the summer years gone
and his once upon a time, ‘til suddenly
he was eighty with only duets left. Just listen
to this Chairman of the Board, Zen-maestro of Song.