What were movie-musicals thinking in the 1950s? A couple of weeks ago, Funny Face (1957) left me baffled by the Fred Astaire-Audrey Hepburn romance. Last night, it was Young at Heart (1954) with Frank Sinatra and Doris Day. Give me William Holden and Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard (1950) any day, over any Day.
In Young at Heart, Sinatra plays ace arranger Barney Sloan. He spends his time gussying up the songs of his friend Alex Burke (Gig Young) and eking out a living as a saloon singer-pianist. Sloan is cadaverous, often hatted, often smoking. He looks like Tom Waits. Why is Tom Waits falling in love with Doris Day? And why is she falling for him?
Watching this movie got me thinking about the Sinatra-Waits connection. I've read somewhere that Waits loves In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning. The Waits-Kathleen Brennan play Frank's Wild Years (which I was lucky to see in 1986 during its Chicago run) includes "I'll Take New York" (a "New York, New York" take-off) and "Straight to the Top" ("I can't let sorrow / Pull ol' Frankie down"). And consider the following:
Frank Sinatra's popcorn
Tom Waits on parenthood