Frank Sinatra, the legendary singer who helped form one-third of the cherished Rat Park, continues to be hailed as one of the finest entertainers of his generation, in the years since his death. He has conquered the worlds of music, winning a stack of Grammys and performing thousands of shows across the world, as well as acting, his talents clinching him a Golden Globe and Oscar during his career. In the days since he passed, after succumbing to a heart attack aged 82 in 1998, calls for a biopic have grown steadily stronger, and at the turn of the century, celebrated director Martin Scorsese was reportedly close to filming it.
Scorsese, Far Out Magazine’s Tom Taylor reported earlier this year, was keen to direct any project and had reportedly found his leading men in John Travolta and Tom Hanks.
The 79-year-old iconic director, who won the Academy Award for Best Director for 2007’s The Departed, was so enchanted with Sinatra, often referred to by his nickname Ol’ Blue Eyes, that he wanted to show off his life.
Travolta, IMDb claimed, was lined up to play Sinatra, while Hanks was set for a role as fellow heavyweight crooner Dean Martin, often known as Ol’ Blues Eyes best friend in showbusiness.
Taylor noted: “Sadly, that very legacy falls in the hands of his estate and they have blocked Scorsese’s project several times over because the script delves into the crooner’s apparent links to the mob.”
The concept for the film was originally created in 2000, and though it was initially dashed, Scorsese then decided Titanic star Leonardo DiCaprio could make a brilliant Sinatra.
Taylor added: “Sadly, the project frequently runs aground apparently because Scorsese wishes to explore Sinatra’s apparent mob connections and the estate of the late star is keen to avoid the connotations.
“Thus, Goodfellas meets Nowhere Boy remains forever lingering in no man’s land. You see, in 1950 during the great Kefauver Committee’s crackdown on rampant mob activity, Sinatra was just a struggling club singer.
“The clubs he sang in were frequently by mobsters. However, there was more than enough evidence to say that they weren’t just punters who admired his tones.
Pacino and De Niro both had leading roles in The Godfather, an influential gangster flick that for generations has reportedly been based around Sinatra’s foray into showbusiness.
One of the 1972 film’s other main stars, Marlon Brando, also seemed to have a tense relationship with the My Way hitmaker, who clinched his Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in From Here to Eternity.
While filming the 1955 musical Guys and Dolls, Sinatra lashed out at Brando for not knowing his lines, something The Godfather starred was well known for doing during his days in Hollywood.
In the 2008 book Somebody: The Reckless Life and Remarkable Career of Marlon Brando, author Stefan Kanfer recalled the incident between two of Hollywood’s biggest stars.
Kanfer wrote: “The tone for the film was set on the first day of rehearsals when Brando was introduced to Sinatra.
“‘Frank,’ Marlon confided, sotto voce, ‘I’ve never done anything like this before, and I was wondering, maybe I could come to your dressing room and we could just run the dialogue together?’
“Sinatra was succinct: ‘Don’t give me any of that Actors Studio s***.'”