Nov 3, 2012

Stealing Sinatra


Stealing Sinatra (2003) is a caper movie about the real-life kidnapping of 19-year old Frank Sinatra, Jr., son of the famous singer, in December, 1963.  The kidnappers were down-and-out entrepreneur Barry Keenan and down-and-out fisherman Joe Amsler, both 23, plus Joe's father, Johnny Irwin.  Barry and Joe had attended University High School in Los Angeles, where they knew many celebrity children, and thus got the idea of kidnapping one of them (their first choice was Bob Hope's son, Tony).

Barry Keenan, Joe Amsler, and Frank Sinatra Jr. were all heterosexual.

 So why does the DVD of Stealing Sinatra contain previews for only gay-themed movies, Jack and Manhood, and the gay-themed tv series The L Word?

Because in the Showtime version, Frank (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is plainly gay, with feminine mannerisms and an effeminate pinky ring, singing about girls only because his career requires it, but otherwise spending all of his time with men.  He is kidnapped while he and a buddy, drummer John Foss (Colin Cunningham) are sitting around in their hotel room in their underwear.  

Barry (David Arquette) and Joe (Ryan Browning, left) kidnap Frank  for the money, of course, but also for. . .something else.   Joe big brothers him, and Mr. Irwin (William H. Macy) gives him speeches about self-confidence and being your own man.  Barry keeps staring at him with soul-searching passion.  They are a lot alike, both outsiders, both lonely, both waiting for someone.















Frank uses the kidnapping to open up, seek advice, explore how to establish his own identity in his father's shadow, and start looking for real emotional connections: "I've never loved anybody!" he  moans.  He doesn't actually fall in love with Barry or Joe -- the kidnapping remains a harrowing ordeal -- but now at least he knows where to begin.