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Robin and the 7 Hoods

Even stubborn fans of the musical form might have trouble swallowing the lackadaisical conceits of this gangland spectacle. Frank Sinatra stars alongside Rat Pack regulars Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. as an honorable hood run afoul of a temperamental Mafioso (Peter Falk) clutching at the reins of Chicago's criminal elite. Under siege from all sides, Robbo (Sinatra) hastily unloads some unsavory cash into charitable hands and is suddenly transformed into a folk hero. Kind of. The meandering plot of Robin and the 7 Hoods has no focus, little tension, and an almost complete impotence at achieving satisfying resolution. In a Rat Pack film we expect casual star charisma to overcome such narrative shortcomings, but Sinatra looks preoccupied, Davis out-of-place, and secret weapon Dean Martin is too low key to matter. As for the music, Nelson Riddle's score sparkles but the songs by usually reliable Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen are either awkwardly integrated or simply weird. Although there is pleasing novelty in hearing Martin sing "A man who loves his mother/Is man enough for me" while cleaning up the pool table, or in Davis singing the unspeakable "I get a hoot/From the rooty-toot-toot," the overall vibe is closer to stupid than cool. Bing Crosby's lively "Mister Booze" is a revelation, but the film's signature tune "My Kind of Town" falls anticlimactically flat. Directed by Gordon Douglas. Warner's Robin and the 7 Hoods looks terrific in this anamorphic transfer (2.35:1), and the monaural Dolby Digital audio is solid. Includes a reverent audio commentary by Frank Sinatra Jr. and a brief behind-the-scenes featurette, "What They Did to Robin Hood." Trailer, snap-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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