(director: Frank Capra; screenwriter: Arnold Schulman/based on his play; cinematographer: William H. Daniels; editor: William Hornbeck; music: Nelson Riddle/song “High Hopes” by James Van Heusen & Sammy Cahn; cast: Nelson Riddle/song “High Hopes” by James Van Heusen & Sammy Cahn; Cast: Frank Sinatra (Tony Manetta), Edward G. Robinson (Mario Manetta), Jimmy Komack (Julius Manetta), Eddie Hodges (Ally Manetta), Eleanor Parker (Mrs. Rogers), Carolyn Jones (Shirl), Thelma Ritter (Sophie Manetta), Keenan Wynn (Jerry Marks), Benny Rubin (Abe Diamond), Joi Lansing (Dorine), George De Witt (Mendy Yales), Ruby Dandridge (Sally); Runtime: 120; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Frank Capra; MGM Home Entertainment; 1959)

The penultimate film of the 61-year-old Frank Capra.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Another annoying Frank Sinatra pic, another box-office hit. The penultimate film of the 61-year-old Frank Capra (“Lady for a Day”/” Pocketful of Miracles”/”It’s A Wonderful Life”), his first pic since“Here Comes the Groom” in 1951,is a lighthearted family comedy, a lesser film in his oeuvre, one that is best remembered for Sinatra singing its Oscar-winning theme song “High Hopes.” It’s based on the hit Broadway play by Arnold Schulman, who handles the screenplay. The author was forced by the studio to change his Jewish stage characters to Italian for the film.

The transplanted New Yorker, the widowed forty-year-old Tony Manetta (Frank Sinatra), is a ne’er-do-well small-time hustler running the Garden of Eden, a shabby hotel in Miami’s South Beach. Tony’s to be evicted in 48 hours because he falls behind on his mortgage payments. Kept busy raising his mature and cute 11-year-old son Ally (Eddie Hodges) and dreaming of creating a multimillion dollar Disneyland-type resort, Tony leads the life of a bum as he’s a womanizer running around with his kooky tenant Shirl (Carolyn Jones) and living a life beyond his means.

In hopes of getting bailed out of his predicament,Tony asks for financial help from his square overbearing big brother Mario (Edward G. Robinson), a self-made successful New York five-and-dime store owner.Mario arrives in Miami Beach with his disapproving loyal wife Sophie (Thelma Ritter), who feels sorry for Ally and she wants him in their custody because his dad is irresponsible.Sophie also fixes Tony up with a wealthy widow, Mrs. Rogers (Eleanor Parker), who turns out to be warmhearted and attractive, and someone Tony falls in love with despite them getting off to a bumpy start.

It turns out that Tony is really a good parent and a decent guy, and refuses to be a heel and use his relationship with Mrs. Rogers to advance his dreams of being a rich businessman.

By the end everything seems so fake, a typical Capra flick about a little guy with big dreams, as Tony is forced to learn a few life lessons about love, responsibility and how to live a decent life. The undeserved happy ending gives us the impression that being broke is not the end of the world–which is enough to give one a hole in the head.

REVIEWED ON 1/30/2011 GRADE: C+ https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/