Pharrell Williams to Play Frank Sinatra's Savvy and Indiscreet Valet?


That was the title of one of Frank Sinatra's most popular Reprise albums, back in 1961. (In fact it was his first disc for Reprise after many successful years with Capitol Records.)

Well, there's going to be plenty of Sinatra style ring-a-ding-ding if plans to film Mr. S: My Life with Frank Sinatra come to fruition. You remember Mr. S. It was the memoir of Frank Sinatra's longtime valet George Jacobs. The book, published in 2003 is wildly entertaining. Perhaps too wild.

It was co-written by William Stadiem, the man who gave us Marilyn Monroe Confidential, which purports to be the memoirs of Lena Pepitone, MM's Manhattan maid. It, too, is pretty wild. Several years after the book had become accepted as fact, Ms. Pepitone, whose relationship with the English language was not expert, admitted that the whole thing was "made up."

But I have to say, Mr. S has always had the ring-a-ding-ding of truth, to me. The tantrums, jealousies, hookers, spontaneous generosity, obsessive love for Ava Gardner, his protective attitude toward Marilyn Monroe -- all fell within what I knew about Frank, at least in his younger days. (By the time I met Mr. S, he had mellowed considerably.) After 15 years with Sinatra, the savvy, observant Jacobs was canned after he took Frank's then-wife, Mia Farrow, out dancing at the legendary Candy Store discotheque.

Several years ago, Chris Rock was attached to the project, but that fell through. Now -- so grinds the rumor mill -- it is the hot singer Pharrell Williams who wants to portray George Jacobs! Pharrell is said to be a major Sinatra fan, and his signature over-size hats are a nod, some say, to Frank's famous fedoras.

And Pharrell's latest single is titled Marilyn Monroe, a song that pays homage to Miss M. and other alluring ladies. If the movie happens, how about Scarlett Johansson as Monroe? -- well, after Scarlett gives birth, naturally. (One of Jacobs' most colorful memories of Monroe was when she would model high heels for him. She was always looking for the shoe that would make her legs look longer. What made these modeling sessions memorable, according to Jacobs, is that she modeled the heels in the nude. Ava Gardner, said Jacobs, was similarly obsessed with her "short legs.")

Speaking of Ava, good luck on casting that incredible beauty.

BUT, who would play the pivotal role of Mr.S? Chris Pine, perhaps best known for Star Trek, is said to be wanted. (I know, I know -- why not George Clooney? But Jacobs' book centers on the 1950s and 60s. Clooney is just a shade too mature.)

Right now, this is simply chatter from the innards of Warner Bros. who own the rights to Mr. S. Of course, the still protective Sinatra family will likely chime in.

That ring-a-ding-ding might not be terribly melodious.

IT SEEMS I'm always asking you to look at clips on YouTube. I had a huge response to the Rita Hayworth segment -- the lovely Rita dancing to the Bee Gees "Stayin' Alive." Viewers adored this! (And our pal Ralph, advised us at the time not to miss Rita with Harry Belafonte by going to "Jump the Line Rita Hayworth.")

Now I urge you cinema buffs to check out veteran actress Nancy Olson, interviewed at a recent screening of Sunset Boulevard. Nancy played Betty Schaefer, Bill Holden's unsuspecting girlfriend/writing partner in that Billy Wilder classic of delusion on the grandest scale. (It was Nancy/Betty who was on the receiving end of Gloria Swanson's insidious phone call: "Do you know where he lives? And how he lives? Do you know what he lives on?")

Olson, a lively 85 years young, is poised and articulate. It's something of a mystery and more than a pity that after winning a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Sunset Boulevard her career went sideways, never benefiting from her Oscar nod.

She has been retired for years but remains a smart reminder of Hollywood's more glorious days -- although many people in the biz were appalled by Wilder tearing away the tinsel to reveal the rot beneath.

Olson was well-paired with her interviewer, Alison Martino, the daughter of singer/actor Al Martino. (He played Johnny Fontane in The Godfather.) Alison loves retro, and touts her enthusiasm on her "Vintage Los Angeles" Facebook page.

JANE WYMAN and Rock Hudson starred together in two of the major hits of the 1950s -- Magnificent Obsession and All That Heaven Allows. Both were directed by the great auteur Douglas Sirk.

Seen today, Magnificent Obsession is almost laughably unwatchable. But All That Heaven Allows retains its punch in the gut of restrictive moral codes and class status. (Widowed matron Jane Wyman falls in love with younger Rock, who -- horrors! -- is also her gardener. Today he'd be called a landscape artist.) The movie has been re-issued via Criterion Collection in dual format -- Blu-Ray and DVD. It looks fabulous, with all of Sirk's trademarked use of color and shadow wonderfully restored.

All That Heaven Allows is a treatise on the dangers -- and easy comforts -- of conformity, and it includes one of cinema's classic images -- the reflection of a lonely, devastated Jane Wyman, seen in the blank screen of new TV set.

Oh, and Agnes Moorehead has one of her best roles as Jane's sympathetic, but acidic, best friend.

All That Heaven Allows was awkwardly "homaged" by director Todd Haynes in his 2002 film, Far From Heaven. Aside from the over-meticulous care spent on the color of every leaf on every tree, Hayes' movie was a failure, save for the wrenching performance of Dennis Quaid as a closeted gay man, married to the unfortunate Julianne Moore. (Dennis wuz robbed of an Oscar nomination, in my opinion.)

Douglas Sirk was also the man who gave us the 1959 re-make of Imitation of Life, with Lana Turner suffering fashionably in Jean Louis gowns, and Juanita Moore suffering her way to an Oscar nomination.

Sirk also directed Rock Hudson, Robert Stack, Lauren Bacall and Dorothy Malone in Written on the Wind. This one is memorable mainly for Miss Malone's ripe, over-the-top performance as a wealthy nymphomaniac. (While her father drops dead of a heart attack, Malone is upstairs doing the mambo in her bedroom, dressed in a sheer negligee. Film fans call this "Dorothy's Dance of Death.")

Malone took an Oscar for this crazy performance. Some say she didn't deserve it. I say, but of course she did!