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LOOKING BACK: Rat Pack version of ‘Ocean’s 11’ premieres in Vegas

“Ocean’s Eleven,” a heist film featuring members of the iconic Vegas Rat Pack, premiered 62 years ago on Wednesday.

The comedy-crime film starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop follows a group of World War II veterans who try to pull off a grand Las Vegas heist — robbing five Las Vegas casinos all in one night.

The Flamingo, Sands, Desert Inn, Riviera and Sahara hotels were featured in the film, and filming at the casinos often occurred between 1 and 5 a.m. when the casinos were slow.

In 1958, Daily Variety reported that some filming would occur at some small cottages near the Basic Magnesium, Inc. plant in Henderson. However, the cottages did not make it into the final cut of the film.

Instead of memorizing lines, actors used cue cards. When the Rat Pack wasn’t “acting,” they were performing nightly in the Copa Room at the Sands, the Sahara and the Riviera, according to the American Film Institute.

Reviews for the film at the time were less than positive. A review from Variety described the film as “frequently one resonant wisecrack away from turning into a musical comedy.”

A New York Times review from 1960 noted how dopish the casino workers are in the film and how filmmakers made robbing a Las Vegas hotel look too easy. Critic Bosley Crowther wrote that the film has a “SURPRIZINGLY nonchalant and flippant attitude toward crime.”

The world premiere of the film was on Aug. 3, 1960, in Las Vegas, with Rat Pack members performing at the Sands as part of opening festivities. The film was released nationwide a week later and went on to earn $5.5 million (about $55 million today adjusted for inflation).

Contact Taylor Lane at tlane@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tmflane on Twitter.

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