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The set of Ocean’s 11 was fun, and intentionally so. Frank Sinatra along with his Rat Pack friends (whom he called “The Summitt", a name which didn't catch on outside the group) were known for their comradery and gags on set.
“We’re not setting out to make Hamlet. The idea is to hang out together, find fun with the broads and have a great time.” Sinatra said. “We gotta make a picture that people enjoy seeing.”
1. A gas attendant came up with the idea.
But it was Director Gilbert Kay who pitched it successfully. Peter Lawford purchased the rights for ten thousand dollars. At the time, the film was about Army pals who smuggle radio equipment out of Germany. Lawford said, "We thought the idea could be applied to a fictional story for a [heist] movie." He brought the idea to Sinatra who offered him fifty thousand dollars and profit sharing. Not a bad deal!
2. Sinatra was hands-on.
Frank took the idea to Warner Brothers, and the project found a director in Lewis Milestone. Sinatra is known for preferring later start times when filming, and Ocean’s 11’s normally began shooting around 12 o’clock. Sinatra also had a vision for the film and often confided to the director, hoping he could get the best performance out of the cast.
3. The title sequence was a bother.
The opening title sequence was created by Saul Bass, a graphic designer who created some of the most iconic film posters (read more about him here). However, the title sequence for Ocean’s 11 turned into quite the task as it had to be remade more than five times. Frank Sinatra Jr. remembered, “Even on the wide screen in the theater, some of the small print was not showing through clearly.” At one point, the studio even felt the release would be delayed due to the issues.
4. Angie Dickinson got the part thanks to one person.
Dickinson was under contract to Warner Brother only because Director Howard Hawks had sold her contract to them after Rio Bravo. While Dean Martin sang her praises, it was another actor who helped her land the role. Dickinson said, “Frank told me that it was Sammy’s idea.” Frank Sinatra said of Dickinson, “How wonderful it is to meet a lady who’s a gentlemen.”