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Ocean's 11 is a 1960 heist film directed by Lewis Milestone and starring five Rat Packers: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford.

Centered around a series of Las Vegasmarker casino robberies, the film's other stars included Angie Dickinson, Cesar Romero, Richard Conte, Akim Tamiroff, Henry Silva, Ilka Chase, Norman Fell, Harry Wilson, and Buddy Lester, as well as cameo appearances by Shirley MacLaine, Red Skelton, and George Raft.

A remake, directed by Steven Soderbergh, starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Julia Roberts (among others) appeared in 2001.


A gang of World War II 82nd Airborne veterans are recruited by Danny Ocean and Jimmy Foster to rob five different Las Vegas casinos (Saharamarker, Rivieramarker, Desert Inn, Sandsmarker, and The Flamingomarker) on a single night.

The gang plans the elaborate New Year's Eve heist with the precision of a military operation. Josh Howard takes a job driving a garbage truck while others work to scope out the various casinos. Sam Harmon entertains in one of the hotel's lounges. Demolition charges are planted on an electrical transmission tower and the backup electrical systems are covertly rewired in each casino.

At exactly midnight, while everyone in every Vegas casino is singing "Auld Lang Syne" the tower is blown up and Vegas goes dark. The backup electrical systems open the cashier cages instead of powering the emergency lights. The inside men sneak into the cashier cages and collect the money. They dump the bags of loot into hotel's garbage bins, go back inside and mingle with the crowds. As soon as the lights come back on, the thieves stroll out of the casinos. A garbage truck driven by Josh picks up the bags and passes through the police blockade. It appears to have gone off without a hitch.

Their ace electrician, Tony Bergdorf, however, has a heart attack in the middle of the Las Vegas Stripmarker and drops dead. This raises the suspicions of police, who wonder if there is any connection.

Reformed gangster Duke Santos offers to recover the casino bosses' money for a price. He learns of Ocean being in town and his connection to Foster, who is the son of Duke's fiancee. Santos pieces together the puzzle by the time Bergdorf's body arrives at the mortuary.

Santos confronts the thieves, demanding half of their take. In desperation, the money is hidden in Bergdorf's coffin, with $10,000 set aside for the widow. The group plans to take back the rest of the money, making no payoff to Santos, after the coffin is shipped to San Francisco.

Alas, this plan backfires when the funeral home talks Bergdorf's widow into having the funeral in Las Vegas, where the body is cremated -- along with all the money.


Peter Lawford was first told of the basic story of the film by director Gilbert Kay who had heard the idea from a gas station attendant. Lawford evenutally bought the rights in 1958 imagining William Holden in the lead. Sinatra became interested in the idea and a variety of different writers worked on the project. When Lawford first told Sinatra of the story, Sinatra joked "Forget the movie, let's pull the job!"Shot on location in Las Vegas, "Ocean's 11" is considered to be the first of the Rat Pack films, but it is not the first in which its members appear together. This film formed a framework for subsequent vehicles tailored around Sinatra, Martin and Davis--each, as with "Ocean's 11," with a number in its title: Sergeants 3, 4 For Texas and Robin and the 7 Hoods.

Shot during the day and the wee hours of the morning on and around the Las Vegas strip, Frank Sinatra not only filmed his scenes in "Ocean's" but also a cameo appearance in the film Pepe along with performing on stage during the evenings at The Sandsmarker hotel. Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop joined him at the Sands on stage during filming. During the crime film's iconic closing shot, the Sands marquee can be seen in the background featuring the performers' names.


Ocean's 11

  1. Frank Sinatra as Danny Ocean
  2. Dean Martin as Sam Harmon
  3. Sammy Davis Jr. as Josh Howard
  4. Peter Lawford as Jimmy Foster
  5. Richard Conte as Tony Bergdorf
  6. Joey Bishop as Mushy O'Connors
  7. Henry Silva as Roger Corneal
  8. Buddy Lester as Vince Massler
  9. Richard Benedict as Curly Steffans
  10. Norman Fell as Peter Rheimer
  11. Clem Harvey as Louis Jackson



Cameo appearances

Shirley MacLaine took a break from filming The Apartment to shoot a scene with Dean Martin as a tipsy woman who interrupts him during the heist. George Raft played a casino owner and Red Skelton appeared as himself. It has been rumored that Milton Berle, Tony Curtis, Judy Garland, and Jackie Gleason were also offered cameo roles, but did not appear. Richard Boone makes a cameo by voice only as the minister delivering the eulogy near the end of the film. An unidentified actor is briefly seen at a distance mouthing his words.

In popular culture

Often referenced over the years, Ocean's Eleven has been hailed as the definitive outing for The Rat Pack and one of their most popular films.

The iconic image of the gang was emulated by Quentin Tarantino in Reservoir Dogs (1992) while a remake starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon signalled the start of a lucrative franchise. Two sequels to the remake were made, Ocean's Twelve in 2004 and Ocean's Thirteen in 2007.

The last of these sequels references Sinatra, the original Ocean, in featuring one of his songs, "This Town." One character, Reuben Tishkoff, even makes a comment to the movie's main antagonist regarding a code of conduct between men who "shook Sinatra's hand."

SCTV created its own parody, "Maudlin's Eleven."


In 2007 VH1 ranked Ocean's 11, both the original and remake, as the top Las Vegas movie of all time.

See also


  1. pp.117-121 Levy, Shawn Rat Pack Confidential 1998 Fourth Estate Ltd
  2. ibid

External links

  • TCM notes

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