Hole in the Head, A (1959): Frank Capra Directs Frank Sinatra (Singing the Oscar-Winning High Hopes)

The Depression era director Frank Capra made great films in the 1930s, achieving a record with his three Directing Oscar Awards, for “It Happened One Night” in 1934, “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” in 1936, and “You Can’t Take It With You,” in 1938. 


But in the 1950s, his career declined and he made only three movie before retiring in 1961: “Here Comes the Groom” in 1951, “A Hole in the Head” in 1959, and “Pocketful of Miracle,” a remake of his own “Lady for a Day,” with Bette Davis taking over the role of May Robson.


As his penultimate work, “Hole in the Head” lacks the resonance of his earlier work, but it’s amusing and mildly entertaining due to the star performance of Frank Sinatra, who also sings in the movie (see below).


Sinatra plays Tony Manetta, a widowed father, raising a young son, Alvin (Hodges) while working as the  owner of a Miami Beach hotel which is about to be foreclosed by the banks, since no one will give him any credit.  Even so, goofy and life-loving, he Tony adores the company of women, as he says, “I’m like good Old Adam with Eves.”


Vet actor Edward G. Robinson is cast as Mario, his elder, overbearing brother, who threatens with his sister-in-law Sophie (Thelma Ritter) to take away his son. Alvin (Hodges). Eleanor Parker plays a widow who might posses the necessary money to save the hotel.


Under pressure, Tony must find a wife and settle down permanently within 48 hours, or else he would lose everything.   Like other Capra’s fables that begin realistically and then turn into morality tale, “Hole in the Head” becomes more of a message picture in its last reels, during which Tony needs to learns a few lessons about mature love and parental responsibility.


Sinatra sings marvelously the movie’s theme song “High Hopes,” which won the Song Oscar, and more songs by him would have definitely make the film more entertaining, considering that the text is base don a Broadway musical.


Oscar Alert


Oscar Nominations: 1


Song: “High Hopes,” music by James Van Heusen, lyrics by Sammy Cahn


Oscar Awards: 1




Oscar Context


Van Heusen and Cahn each had won three Oscars, but it was their only scond award as a team; the other being “Call Me Irresponsible,” from “Papa’s Delicate Condition.”


The other nominees in the Best Song catgeory were: “The Best of Everything,” from the Joan Crawford melodrama of the same title, “The Five Pennies,” from Danny Kaye’s film of that title, “The Hanging Tree,” from Gary Cooper’s Western, and “Strange Are the Ways of Love” from “The Young Land.”