Watching the 2001 remake of Ocean's Eleven reminded me of my only visit to Las Vegas, to attend Bouchercon in 2003. I found the city as fascinating as the convention was enjoyable. I have many fond memories of those few days, including travelling to the Hoover Dam with Stuart and Doreen Pawson, a long conversation with Edward D. Hoch at a cocktail party, meeting Ali Karim for the first time at the Riviera, even though we only live a few miles apart in Cheshire, and a delightful dinner at the home in Henderson of expat British crime writer Douglas Stewart and his family.
Back to the film. I have never seen the original version, starring Frank Sinatra and other members of the Rat Pack, as well as Angie Dickinson (who makes a cameo appearance in the 2001 version.) Remakes are often unwise, but this one was enormously successful at the box office, and I can see why. There is an A-list cast (George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and so on) and the film is directed with verve by Stephen Soderbergh.
Caper movies like this one follow, almost inevitably, the same pattern. The gang of robbers is put together bit by bit, generally by the smart guy who has conceived an ingenious masterplan to steal a fortune. Complications ensue, and the only question is: will they get away with it, or not? The Italian Job and The League of Gentlemen are probably my favourite films of this, and now Ocean’s Eleven joins the list.
Clooney has decided to rob the Bellagio casino (photo taken by Doreen Pawson, when we were wandering around the casinos) and spice is added to the venture because the casino is owned by a man called Benedict (played by Andy Garcia) who now lives with Clooney’s ex, Tess (Julia Roberts). Clooney wants the money, but he wants Tess even more. I enjoyed finding out whether he would succeed in his quest. I wonder if the two sequels to this movie, or indeed the Rat Pack original, are as good – any views?