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A Hole in the Head

Classics and Comedy movie directed by Frank Capra

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A surprisingly cute comedy with a most interesting back story

  • Sep 9, 2010

Frank Capra’s 1959 comedy “A Hole in the Head” is a surprisingly cute comedy with a most interesting back story.  This movie was based on the successful Arnold Schulman play.  It was Sinatra that saw the play and decided he wanted to do a movie.  He went to Frank Capra to direct the movie and to sweeten the deal he offered to co-produce the movie with him.  They formed SinCap (Sinatra-Capra) productions for this movie.  Capra was an interesting choice, especially since he had not directed a movie in eight years, and this was his first movie he directed in color!  If this wasn’t unusual enough they went further by casting Edward G. Robinson in a comedic role as Sinatra’s older brother! 
The music for the film was done by the incomparable Nelson Riddle and his orchestra.  It won the Oscar for best song “High Hopes.”  Finally, one of the plot devices of this film is Sinatra’s character’s get rich scheme of building a Disney theme park on Miami Beach.  This is several years before Disney building just a few hours drive up the road in Orlando Fla!  I wonder if Walt saw the movie?
Its about a single dad Tonny Manetta (Frank Sinatra) who owns a small hotel (the Garden of Eden) on Miami Beach that is not doing well financially and he is about to be foreclosed on.  He is a dreamer and has a scheme to become a millionaire by getting an old friend of his Jerry Marks (Keenan Wynn), a big time theatrical promoter, to financially bank roll his scheme of building a Disney theme park on Miami Beach!  The plot revolves around the interaction of Tony and his 12 yr. old and very bright son Ally Manetta (Eddie Hodges).  When Tony receives his eviction notice he tries to “borrow” money from his older brother Mario (Edward G. Robinson) who flies down with his wife to Miami Beach to persuade Tony to leave the hotel business and settle down or give up custody of Ally to him so he can be raised in a stable home environment.
I really liked the movie.  Sinatra did a great job in this comedy and was not surrounded by his “Rat Pack” buddies.  Edward G. Robinson was a bit out of place in his comedic role.  As usual, the old Hollywood adage for big stars, “never appear in a movie with an animal or a kid, they will steal the show,” comes to fruition in this movie. The 12 year old Eddie Hodges steals the movie; he is adorable in this role.

A surprisingly cute comedy with a most interesting back story A surprisingly cute comedy with a most interesting back story A surprisingly cute comedy with a most interesting back story

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September 13, 2010
I loved this movie, too. I thought Frank Sinatra was quite charming in it. Thanks for your review; now I want to see it again.
September 13, 2010
Thank you for the compliment. A fun movie!!!
September 09, 2010
I never heard of this one. Surprising title! Good write-up, thanks!
About the reviewer
Michael Neulander ()
Ranked #1
Recently graduated with a Masters in Humanities degree from Old Dominion University reading in philosophy and history. I graduated from the Univ. of Miami in 1980 with a B.A. in Political Science; specializing … more
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A pair of Franks make an agreeable meal inA Hole in the Head, the movie that brought together messrs. Sinatra and Capra. While Sinatra was on his movie-star hot streak, Capra had been out of film for a few years, having conquered Hollywood in the 1930s and then fallen out of love with it. Capra found in Arnold Schulman's stage play a different kind of hero from his past Mr. Deeds and Mr. Smith: a Miami hotelier with big debts, young son, wayward eye, and, well, high hopes. The role fits Sinatra like a blue-eyed glove: he dodges creditors while hoping for a handout from his disapproving older brother (Edward G. Robinson), who in turn strongly wishes his younger sibling would settle down with a nice widow (Eleanor Parker) instead of a free-spirited, bongo-playing kook (Carolyn Jones). Meanwhile, kid (Eddie Hodges, from the stage version ofThe Music Man) believes in his old man, to a fault.

This easygoing tale shows Capra in a mellow, cooled-off mood; the propulsive rhythm of his 1930s pictures is nowhere to be seen, and the film does go on too long. He hits his stride when Sinatra approaches an old friend (Keenan Wynn) in search of backing for his big dream, a Florida resort modeled after Disneyland. (A Disney resort in Florida? Crazy.) Those scenes, which mash up excitement, disappointment, and humiliation, are the old sweet-sour Capra formula. Of Sinatra's two Sammy Cahn-Jimmy Van Heusen tunes, "All My Tomorrows" plays under the opening credits, but wasn't the song people ...

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Director: Frank Capra
Genre: Classics, Comedy
Screen Writer: Arnold Schulman
DVD Release Date: September 18, 2001
Runtime: 120 minutes
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
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