By the time Frank Sinatra closed in on his fiftieth birthday in 1965, he needed little introduction. He sold millions of records, made several hit movies and even won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as Private Angelo Maggio in 1953’s From Here to Eternity. Some (perhaps rightly so), assumed the arrival of Beatlemania the year before would signal a waning of Sinatra’s popularity, but on the contrary, 1965 was a fantastic year. He, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr. did a sold-out benefit concert that was broadcast around the country on closed-circuit television. If that wasn’t enough, Frank’s latest album, September of My Years, was a huge hit and won the Grammy for Best Album.
On November 24, 1965, NBC broadcast A Man and His Music, a one-hour special in color to mark the occasion of Frank Sinatra’s 50th birthday on December 12th. Recorded on a minimal soundstage, Sinatra cracks wise a few times, but uses most of the 50-minute runtime crooning several favorites. Though it’s been documented that Ol’ Blue Eyes had a cold at the time of the taping (Writer Gay Talese documented both nights of the taping in his 1966 Esquire magazine article: “Frank Sinatra Has A Cold“), his voice is in peak form, aided by an orchestra conducted by his longtime arrangers Nelson Riddle and Gordon Jenkins. The set list is as follows:
1) I’ve Got You Under My Skin 2) Without A Song 3) Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me 4) I Get A Kick Out Of You 5) Nancy 6) My Kind Of Town 7) Medley: It Was A Very Good Year / Young At Heart / The Girl Next Door / Last Night When We Were Young 8) This Is All I Ask 9) Come Fly With Me 10) The Lady Is A Tramp 11) I’ve Got The World On A String 12) Witchcraft 13) You Make Me Feel So Young 14) Put Your Dreams Away
Featuring music from beginning to end and no special guests, A Man and His Music won an Emmy and a Peabody award. In addition, Sinatra recorded an accompanying album of the same name, which won the Grammy for Best Album. The success of that special, spawned a sequel, A Man and His Music Part II, also available on this DVD.
Airing on December 7, 1966, A Man and His Music Part II saw Frank Sinatra joined by his daughter Nancy, who had a big hit that year with “These Boots Are Made for Walkin'” The Chairman of the Board tries to get his funky on in an upbeat medley of Downtown” and “These Boots Were Made For Walking” with his daughter. Honestly, Frank is clearly out of his comfort zone in the pop realm. The real high point here are such classics as “Moonlight in Vermont” and “You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves you.” As with the previous special, Frank is guided by an orchestra conducted by his longtime arrangers Nelson Riddle and Gordon Jenkins. The set list is as follows:
1) Fly Me To The Moon 2) The Most Beautiful Girl In The World 3) Moonlight In Vermont 4) You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You 5) Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) – NANCY SINATRA 6) On Broadway – NANCY SINATRA 7) Yes Sir, That’s My Baby – FRANK & NANCY SINATRA 8) Medley: Downtown / These Boots Are Made For Walking – FRANK & NANCY SINATRA 9) Medley: Just One Of Those Things / My Heart Stood Still / But Beautiful / When Your Lover Has Gone 10) Luck Be A Lady 11) That’s Life 12) Granada 13) My Kind Of Town 14) Put Your Dreams Away
For fans of Frank Sinatra who already picked up the previous DVD release of these specials, this reissues adds nothing to the experience. But those unfamiliar with Sinatra will be given a wonderful overview if his voice control, presence and ability to make a song his own.
Considered that both of these specials are half a century old, the video is surprisingly clear. While it would be a stretch to call the colors vivid, nothing is washed out. The remastered 2.0 audio is surprisingly full.