Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra Show: With Ella Fitzgerald

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In the 1950s and '60s television shows came and went like web pages would half-a-century later, on the air one day, difficult to find the next, with no VCRs to retain the experience. Taped on a rainy day in Palm Springs on December 10th, 1959, two days before the singer's 44th birthday, this valuable document is brimming with Nelson Riddle's impeccable orchestration and superb performances by all involved. The magic marker on poster board promotion for the Timex watch company has a certain charm and all the advertising segments from the original program remain intact. Peter Lawford and Frank Sinatra's Martin & Lewis-style banter falls a little flat, but the segue between the Hi-Lo's rendition of "Lazy Afternoon" into Hermione Gingold's duet with Peter Lawford is old-style entertainment that works exceptionally well, especially the use of the shadows on this black and white broadcast. Ella Fitzgerald's "There's a Lull in My Life" subtly emerges from Gingold and Lawford's exit, and adds a total touch of class that erases the memory of the earlier comedy routines. Ella's exquisite moment itself blends back into the shadows with Frank singing "It's Alright With Me" to his then-girlfriend, Juliet Prowse. She doesn't say or sing a word in the four-minute-and-thirty-nine-second performance, but they have great romantic chemistry. After the tune the singer talks about the film Can Can that he and Prowse had just completed. Juliet has a wonderful dance segment taped in the desert -- "The Can Can Medley" -- which is simply stunning. A couple of mimes follow in the obligatory Timex commercial which itself is followed by song after song in quick succession -- Frank Sinatra solo, Frank with Red Norvo followed by Ella followed by Sinatra and the Hi-Lo's, Ella and Frank, Lawford, Gingold and Prowse -- just totally amazing stuff that flows pretty much uninterrupted. Produced and directed by Bill Colleran there are special words and music from Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen. The DVD comes with some bonus features, bios, discographies and DVD material promoting other titles.