Ocean's 11 is a 1960 American heist film directed by Lewis Milestone and starring five of the Rat Pack: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop. Centered on a series of Las Vegas casino robberies, the film also stars Angie Dickinson, Cesar Romero, Richard Conte, Akim Tamiroff, Henry Silva, Ilka Chase, Norman Fell, Patrice Wymore and Buddy Lester, and includes cameo appearances by Shirley MacLaine, Red Skelton and George Raft.
The film served as the primary inspiration for the Ocean's film series (2001–2007), a collection of heist films directed, edited or produced by Steven Soderbergh and featuring an ensemble cast. The first film of the series, Ocean's Eleven, features Dickinson and Silva in cameo roles.
World War II veterans Danny Ocean and Jimmy Foster recruit nine comrades from their unit in the 82nd Airborne to simultaneously rob five Las Vegas casinos: the Sahara, the Riviera, the Desert Inn, the Sands and the Flamingo.
The gang plans the elaborate New Year's Eve heist with the precision of a military operation. Josh Howard takes a job as a sanitation worker driving a garbage truck while others get jobs at the various casinos. Sam Harmon entertains in one of the hotel's lounges. Demolition charges are planted on an electrical transmission tower and the backup electrical systems are covertly rewired in each casino. At midnight on New Year's Eve, the tower is blown up and the Las Vegas Strip goes dark as the inside men sneak into the cages, hold up the cashiers and then dump the bags of loot into the hotels' garbage bins. A garbage truck driven by Josh picks up the bags and passes through the police blockade. Everything appears to have gone off without a hitch.
However, the gang's electrician Tony Bergdorf drops dead of a heart attack in the middle of the Strip. This raises the suspicions of police, who wonder if there is any connection. Reformed mobster Duke Santos offers to recover the casino bosses' money for a percentage. As the robbery was well organized, he assumes that it was a mob operation until his underworld connections tell him that they were not involved. But Duke is engaged to Foster's mother, who casually mentions that Foster and Ocean, having fought together in the army, are both unexpectedly in Las Vegas. Duke has also learned about Bergdorf's military record from the police. By the time that Bergdorf's body arrives at the mortuary, Duke has pieced together the puzzle.
Duke confronts the thieves, demanding half of their take. In desperation, they hide the money in Bergdorf's coffin, setting aside $10,000 for his widow. The group plans to take back the rest of the money, making no payoff to Duke, after the coffin is shipped to San Francisco. This plan backfires when the funeral director talks Bergdorf's widow into having the funeral in Las Vegas, where the body is cremated, along with all of the remaining money.
Peter Lawford was first told of the film's basic premise by director Gilbert Kay, who had heard the idea from a gas station attendant. Lawford bought the rights in 1958, envisioning William Holden in the lead. Frank Sinatra became interested in the idea, and a variety of writers worked on the project. When Lawford first told Sinatra of the story, Sinatra joked, "Forget the movie, let's pull the job!"
The animated title sequence was designed by Saul Bass. The film's closing shot shows the main cast walking away from the funeral home, with the Sands Hotel marquee behind them, listing their names as headliners.
The film derives its name from this group of 11 people:
Two Beverly Hills locations were used: the opening barber shop scene was filmed at 9740 Wilshire Boulevard and the scenes at Spyros Acebos's house were filmed at 230 Ladera Drive, which belonged to Hollywood agent Kurt Frings.
The film received mixed reviews from critics. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times disliked the film because "there is no built-in implication that the boys have done something wrong. There is just an ironic, unexpected and decidedly ghoulish twist whereby they are deprived of their pickings and what seems their just desserts. This is the flaw in the picture—this and the incidental fact that a wholesale holdup of Las Vegas would not be so easy as it is made to look." Variety wrote that the film was "frequently one resonant wisecrack away from turning into a musical comedy. Laboring under the handicaps of a contrived script, an uncertain approach and personalities in essence playing themselves, the Lewis Milestone production never quite makes its point, but romps along merrily unconcerned that it doesn't." Leo Sullivan of The Washington Post called the film "nothing more than a whopping sick joke in Technicolor ... It's a completely amoral tale, told for laughs." Philip K. Scheuer of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the film "has a pretty good surprise twist at the finish and is, of its type, a pretty good comedy-melodrama." A mixed review in The Monthly Film Bulletin called it "an overlong, intermittently amusing picture full of surface effects and private jokes ... Despite Milestone's efforts, the first third tends to drag, due mainly to desultory characterisation, but when the raid begins both situations and dialogue improve considerably."
On Rotten Tomatoes, Ocean's 11 holds a rating of 48%, based on 31 reviews, with an average rating of 5.33/10. The critical consensus reads: "Easygoing but lazy, Ocean's Eleven blithely coasts on the well-established rapport of the Rat Pack royalty."
Ocean's 11 was released on videocassette by Warner Home Video on February 9, 1983 as part of its "A Night At the Movies" series, featuring a Hearst Metrotone Newsreel, a Warner Bros. animated short and a coming-attractions trailer for films of 1960. The film was released as a 50th-anniversary Blu-ray disc on November 9, 2010. The disc's bonus features include: