This documentary directed by Alex Gibney – fully titled as Sinatra – All or Nothing At All and available on Netflix – gives a full and fair account of the 20th Century’s most famous vocalist.
In fact there are three Sinatras; the singer, actor and man.
The trajectory of his career is interesting and unusual. A New Jersey kid of Italian parentage he was established young as a vocalist for the Tommy Dorsey orchestra. There were many highs and lows but he never really changed his image as a saloon bar crooner.
The documentary interweaves his songs with his life. He was both recording artist and performer. He articulates each word of every lyric, often beautifully arranged by Nelson Riddle.
He is probably underrated as an actor.
His best known role was in Fred Zinnemann’s From Here to Eternity
However, my favourite was Pal Joey which has such immortal numbers as Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered and The Lady is a Tramp.
It also stars Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak.
Sinatra the man is more elusive.
On one hand he was generous to his friends , espoused humanitarian causes and was particularly vocal in human rights for the black American.
On the other he associated with the Mob, was a philanderer and boozer and could not control his temper.
The many facets of Sinatra are well portrayed in this absorbing documentary. His daughter and first wife provide some of the insight but his music speaks for itself.