HBO today announced Sinatra: All Or Nothing At All, commemorating Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday. The two night, four-hour documentary weaves rarely seen footage of Sinatra’s famous 1971 “retirement” concert in Los Angeles. The film’s narrative is shaped by Sinatra’s song choices for that concert, which director Alex Gibney interprets as the singer’s guide through his life.
Gibney said today’s “mash-up” and “sample” culture makes the docu relevant; it includes no on-camera interviews – audio only – so that all the footage of the ’71 concert and other archival footage has a more “of the moment” feel to it.
“He willed himself to a prominent position at the center of our culture and stayed there long time,” Gibney said. “He was a hot-blooded character… had a rough temper and yet was very generous. He embodied contradictions” which Gibney called “so American.”
The ’71 “retirement” concert came at a time when Sinatra was tired and felt out of “sync with the culture,” Gibney speculated. “He was tired and emotionally spent, and said, ‘I’m going to retire.’ But quickly he missed it too much, and I think he saw his way back…For a guy who stood a top the culture for so long, he could feel the zeitgeist and whether he was still in touch that way — But we’re just guessing,” Gibney said.