Directed by Gordon (Them!) Douglas, these three crime thrillers have Frank Sinatra doing his best hard boiled as he unravels complicated (and not always entirely comprehensible) mysteries.
Tony Rome (1967) has Sinatra in Miami Beach as the titular PI, a former cop who still has plenty of connections. A simple task — returning a drunk young woman to her rich father — leads to a web of murder and blackmail as all sorts of interested parties chasing around, beating up …nd killing in the quest for a diamond pin the woman has lost. The plot is meandering, and some of the twists obscure. Then there’s the laughable zooms on female posteriors, and a flat performance by Jill St. John. Still, it passes the time. Just.
Tony Rome is back in action in Lady in Cement (1968), tossing quips and ogling curves (the most notable of which belong to Raquel Welch) as he tries to find out who killed the woman he found with the cement shoes and why. Once again, the result is entertaining, but never more than workmanlike (especially with Chinatown lurking just a few years in the future).
In The Detective (1968), Sinatra is a NYC detective looking into the case of the gruesome murder of the gay son of a local bigwig. The man’s roommate is tapped as the killer, but then evidence in another case points toward a different conclusion. Thanks partly to the setting, this is probably the grittiest of the three films, but it wallows just as heavily in stereotypes as the other two, without quite going the extra mile to turn its caricatures into the full-on grotesques one encounters in, say, the novels of Carl Hiaasen.
All three films have both the original mono and new 2.0 mixes. The latter get the job done, and while there aren’t a lot of surround elements, the irritation factor of surround voices is minimized also (though not completely eliminated). The occasional bit of distortion aside, the sound is generally crisp and clear.
2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratios are the order of the day here. The prints are in good shape, with very little damage. The colours and flesh tones are good, and there is some grain, but it is held to a minimum. Once or twice I saw some a bit of flickering going on, and the image, usually sharp, has a few soft moments, but by and large, the transfers look fine for films of this vintage.
Nothing here but the trailers (for the features and other related releases). The menus are basic.
Each of these is an enjoyable B-level mystery. Just fine for some gritty nostalgia, with a touch of cheese (more like a hefty dollop in the case of Lady of Cement, thanks to giggle-enducing score).
Special Features List