There are fewer celebrities that loomed larger than life, but Frank Sinatra is definitely an apt example. The man and the legend have become intricately tied up in the collective minds of society, and the contradictive nature of his personality are just as commonplace. He was gentle yet furious; humble yet self-centered; caring yet indifferent. He was Frank Sinatra.
Alex Gibney’s ‘Sinatra: All or Nothing at All’ is a deep an intricate look at the man and his renowned singing career. The film is shaped around a 1971 concert that was billed as the crooner’s last concert ever. In honor of his last performance Sinatra had chosen 11 songs that he thought best represented his story. Gibney uses these to guide the documentary.
Running at around four hours total this is a leviathan of a documentary, and while there are few stars that likely deserve this lengthy treatment more than Sinatra it still gets a bit boring and bland at times. The film uses both clips of Sinatra as well as scripted interviews from friends and family to move things along. While some of the clips of Sinatra are pretty lively the scripted interviews are not. A large portion of the time it feels like you are being read to, and this gets old pretty quick.
People familiar with Sinatra should not be surprised by a lot of what the documentary focuses on, though it does provide as in-depth of a look as probably exists. It’s all here: the number one hits, the Rat Pack, the Mob, JFK, et cetera.
One area that the film does skimp on is Sinatra’s acting career. The film instead maintains focus on his singing career for the duration. This was probably a wise decision as the singer angle allows Gibney to provide a unified framing to the entire film, and it fits better with the eleven song/chapter idea.
‘Sinatra: All or Nothing at All’ is a long but well made documentary about the great Frank Sinatra. It is a much watch for fans of the legendary singer, but as a word of warning it can get a bit dry and boring at times. Luckily, just when you hit a lull Ol’ Blue Eyes will do something to snap your attention back.