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Stax takes an in depth look at Scorsese's DINO project

Here's an IN DEPTH look at a draft of DINO. I say 'a draft' cause I don't know at what point in the process this script was written. Is it 2 years old, has it been rewritten since HBO's RAT PACK? I don't know. Take this review and look at the project as a point of view on a script that once existed. Because we don't know the current state of the project or this draft... It's a bit ludricous to put a great deal of weight on the statements that Stax makes... Unless it is the current draft, which would then raise some modest concerns. Ultimately Scorsese is a master storyteller and... I trust his hand wielding this (and any other project he chooses to take on). So read this, and wonder... "Where is this now?" I'll try to find out which draft this is, but so far... I have been out of luck. ("well get some"... ahhh shucks Mr Bradley, I'm sorry) Here's Stax...

Stax here. I managed to buy a copy of the screenplay for Martin Scorsese's future project "Dino", written by Nicholas Pileggi (and not by Paul Schrader, as erroneously reported elsewhere) and based on the gritty Nick Tosches bestseller. Now the script only had a card stock cover and not a title page, so I'm not sure what draft it is or when it was dated. Bear that in mind when you read my review of it. I'll give you my reaction to it and then go into a more detailed run down of the story itself. It runs 166 pages and it is an epic. I've been so jazzed about this project since I first heard of it that I guess my expectations were just too high. After all, we have double-Oscar wiiner Tom Hanks as Dino (all but signed by all accounts), Scorsese directing and Pileggi scripting and it's about the wildest nights in 20th Century American History so I guess I was expecting the Phantom Menace of biopics! After reading this draft, I'm going to lower my expectations somewhat. In terms of tone and style, it reminds me of a weird hybrid of King of Comedy and Casino, if you can imagine that. But it also has a lot of "Lenny" in it, too, in the way it uses mock latter-day interviews with the people in the dead entertainer's life to tell you what the good ol' days were like.

The script manages to cram a lot in and is a relatively brisk read but it's pacing reminds me of Casino: there are exciting flourishes throughout but there's a lot of been there-done that wiseguy schtick, too. It employs the multi-narrator voice-overs device used in GoodFellas and Casino but here it just seems tired and expositional and kind of a cheat for not getting to know Dean Martin through his actions, but rather by people TALKING about him. While this V.O. technique worked great in GoodFellas and to a lesser degree with Casino, here it gives the film a bit of an E! True Hollywood Story feel to it with the actual scenes seeming more like re-enactments than genuine drama at times. In fact, I saw the E! True Hollywood Story on Dino and I have to say I learned just as much about the man from watching that as I did from reading this script. Also, the latter part of the film dealing with the Rat Pack, JFK and the Giancana mob also seems tired after HBO put out their "Rat Pack" film last year; indeed, some of the scenes are almost identical to ones portrayed in that film. Yes, these stories are all an unavoidable part of Rat Pack lore now but maybe that's part of the film's problem. We know all of this stuff by osmosis now so the film ends up having an almost Greatest Hits/TV movie feel to its narrative structure that I didn't like.

The relatively plotless, vignette-style of storytelling Scorsese and Pileggi employed twice before worked then because we didn't know anything about these guys or what would happen to them. Their character development was less important because it was an almost anthropoligical study of a lifestyle. DINO has sequences like that that study celebrity lifestyle in the 50s and 60s which are entertaining but, again, in a been there-done that fashion. That's part of the problem Casino had; it fluctuated between being a study of mob practices and a tragic character study. The pace in the film could go from being too jarring to too damn slow. "Dino" is similar but it suffers more because, unlike GoodFellas and Casino where the main characters helped create the dire circumstances by which they would fall from their perch (they're cut down kicking and screaming!), Dean Martin just ... walks away. Zones out. Shuts himself off. (Imagine that very last shot of Casino where DeNiro's blank stare seems to take some of the zing away from it all -- and now imagine that for the last fifteen pages. Kind of frustrating.) Dean didn't create or control the events swirling about him; he just went along for the ride and reacts to it all in the same aloof manner. In fact, Sinatra drives the plot in the latter half of the script. All that JFK-Giancana stuff was Sinatra's bag, baby; he wanted JFK elected and Giancana was his pal. Dino could care less about any of that. In a movie called Dino about Dean Martin, I don't really want to spend an hour caring about what Sinatra wants and worries about. Frankie's had his biopics; if Dino doesn't care what's going on in the film, why the hell should I? It's not like we haven't heard it all before anyway. I'll rent The Rat Pack if I want to see that period recreated.

My biggest problem with the script, though, is how under-developed the characters are. Martin is painted as a contradictory, elusive, flippant PERSONA, not a real person; all the right questions are asked about him but they're not answered. Of course, that's part of Dean's mystique: no one knows for sure what made him tick so he was either this incredible enigma or a completely vacuous and cold as ice playboy. So maybe he was just a persona. This is compelling to muse about but after 2 hours and 45 minutes it is quite frustrating to not feel anything more about Dino, and not know much more about him, than you did at the beginning (or going into the cinema!). It's a fundamentally unsatisfying drama if the main character remains a steady blip on the radar screen throughout, a straight line for nearly 3 hours with no arc whatsoever. Dino's a wise-cracking cypher whom we only learn about through the V.O. and mock interviews of other characters in the film. His nature is blamed on his being Italian more than anything else. And after reading this, there is just no way on God's earth I can buy Tom Hanks as Dino. No way. I don't care how much of a "Hoffa" they pull with the make-up job, Tom ain't Dino! Women don't swoon for him. Men don't want to emulate him. He's not sexy and he's not cool. He'll emasculate Dino. And there's no way I'd by him as the son of Italian immigrants. By casting Hanks, the filmmakers must be attempting to make up for the disagreeable parts of Dino's character: the hurt he caused his family, his playboy antics, his cold and distant SOB nature. It's a cheat: Hanks is a likeable everyman so people will naturally like him as Dino and we're over that dilemma. Uh-huh. You can't make up with casting what isn't there on the page. In fact, the audience may end up resenting Dino MORE if Hanks plays him just because they want him to be Jimmy Stewart. IMHO, I think they need a George Clooney or Nicolas Cage for this (even though I can't imagine ANYONE really being perfect for it). Whoever it is has to be a good light comedian (Hanks is) with sex appeal and machismo (again, NOT Hanks -- sorry, Tom!). Dino didn't give a damn whether you liked him or not; can you believe Tom Hanks in that? If he passed on the Clinton role in Primary Colors because he didn't think he could play a philanderer, then why on earth does he think he can pull this off? I saw him play Dino once on a Saturday Night Live skit; I fear the film would just be damn near 3 hours of the same.

Jerry Lewis? One note portrayal as either a hyper young control freak in awe of his best pal Martin, or as a mellowed, post-rehab telethon king looking back on how obnoxious he was in his youth. I can't see Jim Carrey agreeing to 45 minutes of screen time for this part, even if it is Scorsese directing it. There's nothing there for him, really. Better to give it to a younger comic more in need of a new challenge and not a big star like Carrey (I'm going out on a limb and recommending Adam Sandler for it -- let the hate mail begin!). Dino's second wife Jeanne (mother of his beloved son Dean Paul) is the primary female character but she is nothing more than the suffering wife. Even Dean Paul is shorted here; he's the spirit of youth and freedom cut down in his prime. Since Dino never spent much time with him we don't, either, so his untimely death, and Dino's mourning, lacks the pathos it needs to make us feel anything real for Dino.

Sinatra is, well, exactly what you expect him to be: tough, hot-tempered, seductive, in awe of Giancana and Kennedy, full of love for Dean. But you run the risk of a Phil Hartman impersonation here; like with Lewis, I can't see the ever-mentioned front-runner in this role. Scenery-chewing John Travolta would only add to Sinatra's domination of the latter part of the film; IMHO, cast a recognizable but not overbearing actor like Aidan Quinn as him. Or if you want a star, then Bruce Willis fifteen pounds lighter. I just can't see Travolta in it after reading this script. Not even as the fatter, older Frankie. The rest of the Pack are passersby, really. Forget about Wesley Snipes playing Sammy Davis, Jr.; it would be an insult to him to be in it as Sammy really is nothing more than another hanger-on. Billy Crystal had more of a chance to give Sammy some depth than whoever plays him here. In fact, Joey Bishop has more screen time and dialogue than Sammy (as do Giancana, various mobsters and managers)! Ditto Peter Lawford (unless you knew he was JFK's brother in law going in, the film would never really tell you). Shirley MacLaine has a bit part as the Pack's self-proclaimed mascot early on. There's a funny bit with her and Giancana playing cards. JFK and RFK are throw-away cameos for look-alikes, nothing more, so don't expect any of the depth to their relationship w/the Pack that we saw in HBO's "The Rat Pack". All of these cameos peppered throughout a rushed, highlight-laden latter part of Act 2 may make you feel like you're watching a Legends in Concert show rather than being caught up in a well-developed story. The script takes for granted how much viewers know about the times and the players; Dino and Sinatra fans and older viewers will see it as another re-enactment while younger viewers may just get lost in the shuffle.



Act One establishes Dean Martin as the inebriated, affable host of his own hit variety show in the latter 1960's (no mention of Matt Helm in this draft, folks, sorry!). Dino is introduced to us as we watch his TV show: "Ladies and gentlemen, the Dean Martin Show, starring Dean Martin!". These scenes remind me of King of Comedy. It's fitting that this is how we are introduced to Dean as we only know him, as most people do, through what he decided to reveal on TV, which was all a gimmick. They intercut variety show skits of Dean in various buffoonish acts with an "At Home With --" TV special documenting Dean's seemingly placid and perfect home life with 2nd wife Jeanne and their brood of kids. We then get "true" glimpses of the real Martin home, with Dean as aloof and disenchanted and only wanting to stay in and watch the tube. Dean tells her: "I'm Italian. I need a wife. I need kids. I need a home. I may not come home, but I need a home." Dean slips his son Dean Paul with a $20 to not do whatever it was he was doing and to not tell his mother (!); Jeanne admonishes for bribing their child like he's a head waiter. Dino would gladly stay at home all the time but that's not what Jeanne wants or expects; she just wants him to BE there when he is home and not roll over and watch TV. On page 8 Jeanne asks the question/theme of the whole film: "What's the good of being Dean Martin if you don't enjoy it?". I refer you to my prior commentary to see if this script answered it successfully or not. Dino can walk away from all the glitz and glamor and excess and just go home and put on his PJs and the TV and not give a damn. To paraphrase what Dean Paul tells him near the end, if you don't complain about problems then they're not real. Dean realizes at end I think (after Dean Paul dies) that that isn't so. But does he care or change? No. He just withdraws and goes eat pasta by himself.

The first 23 pages establishes Dean's work ethic, or lack thereof; he has audio tapes of his TV rehearsals sent to him and listens to them on the golf course. He then shows up 5 minutes before the final rehearsal and asks: "Which way do you want to point the Italian?" After Dean Paul teases him for not being with the times (he shows him an album cover of Sinatra wearing love beads and nehru and Dino scoffs that he looks like Mahatma Gahndi), Dino effortlessly knocks the Beatles out of the #1 spot on the charts with a failed Sinatra tune, "Everybody Loves Somebody." Dean Paul gives him a gold watch as a present and asks why he can't be reached at home anymore; Dino tells him if he wants to reach him to call his agent and then he'll know to return the call or not! Jeanne tells the off-screen interviewer that she accepts Dean's philandering and says: "There are 2 Dean Martins. The man the public sees on TV and the man I know as a husband and a father. ... I think he's more Italian than anything. ... The reason he doesn't show an interest in almost anything is that he truly is not interested in almost anything. Way deep down, he doesn't give a damn. ... Now after 23 years of marriage with 3 children, i still don't know the first thing about him. There's either nothing there, or too much." When protest groups picket Dean's show because of its sexist and drunken subject matter, Dino shrugs it off with "the guys in Steubenville (Ohio, Martin's hometown) want the broads. Give 'em the broads."

Now it's the mid-70s and Jeanne publicly announces their divorce after 23 years and 3 kids because Dean has fallen for a younger woman. Dean also ends his hit show. He walks away from it saying "I gotta take a leak." Dean's got $50 million, been a star for 30 years -- he could can do whatever he wants. What Dean wants to do is live carefree. As he tells his son Dean Paul: "You gotta have fun, pallie. If not, you may as well lay down and let them throw dirt on you." But Dean's idea of fun, however, seems to be dining alone and going to bed early to watch TV. For all his "gotta love living" attitude, Dino seems to be a pretty solitary man. He is an outcast but one who has cast himself out; everyone else wants him around.

Act 2 begins in 1946 New York City with 29 year old Dean, "an Adonis" (again, I say, Tom Hanks?!), meeting up with 19 year old Jewish comic Jerry Lewis. Jerry, in his "interview", speaks fondly of Dino: "I'm 115 pounds and fighting acne and here's a god. That's the way I saw him. That's the way everybody saw him." Tom Hanks?!! The next 50 pages, the first part of act 2, deals with the successful partnership of Martin & Lewis. It's a mini-TV movie all of its own, following the tried and true and tired rags to riches formula. We get Dean and Jerry wowing 'em at the Copa, on TV, and, of course, as the hottest comedy duo in Hollywood. Early on in their friendship, Dean relates to an awed Jerry his "origin" (shown in flashback with, presumably, a few different actors as young Dean and adolescent Dean): becoming a croupier in a backroom mob gambling joint in Steubenville, OH; a failed boxer who'd bet against himself to make money; an aspiring crooner who learns to sing by watching Bing Crosby films; and a nightclub singer who can nail any woman he wants, including the owner's wife. But the most revealing flashbacks are of Dean's dad Gaetano/"Guy" arriving from the Abruzzi countryside with only his sack full of barber's tools and proudly setting up shop in Ohio. The American Dream. But Gaetano's a tough, wise soul whoi can deftly turn down the mob's "offer" to use his shop as a front. He also teaches his adoring son Dean a harsh lesson. Dean runs up to his dad every day he comes home for work, jumping up into his arms for hugs and kisses. Finally, Guy stands back and lets his boy fall and hurt himself on purpose. When Dean begins to cry, BOTH his parents admonish him: "How many times have I told you never to trust nobody?" and "What's the matter with you? You want to show people that you're hurt? That you're weak? They'll take advantage of you." This mistrusting, immigrant mentality stays with Dean his whole life and seems to be the only reason for his cold, detatched relations with even his own family. He even tells Dean Paul before he dies that the whole world's "a con." Dean Paul tried to show him another aspect of it but Dean wouldn't partake; he'd lose that chance forever when his boy would die.

In 1947 Dean, already married to blink-and you'll miss her-Betty, falls for Orange Bowl queen Jeanne Bieggers. She won't sleep with him until they're married; she doesn't find out until he leaves his wife that he was married with kids! His response: "I wanted to make sure you'd marry me first." 3 years later his divorce comes through. He sends Jeanne a telegram: "I love you. Ticket to follow." Meanwhile, the Martin and Lewis act transforms more into the Jerry Lewis act with Dean being more of a straight man. His songs are cut down, he has less to do in their films, and his frustration grows more and more. He likes Jerry but wants to be a star, too. Again, the presentation of all this is very TV movie-ish and a little too pat. Jerry becomes a control freak with their films but, much to everybody's surprise, he's right more often than not. He even shows up the DP and director by showing them which lens is the best one to use (you know Scorsese must love that moment!). But Jerry never really comes alive here. Reading their comedy act really isn't that funny; I imagine watching the actors improv and play it out should be, depending on who is cast as Jerry. Finally, after their respective entourages of cronies have advised them they can go it alone, Dean and Jerry call it quits on the most successful act in showbiz at that time. After a farewell show at the Copa, a weeping, adoring Jerry hugs his pal good-bye. Dino walks on out with zero fanfare. Jerry: "He walked out on all that success. All the money. All the cheers. All the applause. All that love ... but I don't think he ever needed it. ... And, that was it. We didn't talk again for 20 years." That was 1956.

P. 75, Dean's solo career begins. After a failed attempt at dramatic acting and solo roles, Dean bounces back with a successful nightclub act. He and his writers (incl. Sammy Cahn) come up with his schtick. Like Jack Benny being a cheapskate and Lucille Ball being ditzy, Dean will be an affable drunk. It works. Truth is, he's drinking apple juice. For now -- the real alcoholism begins later. As Dean reveals to a TV interviewer, "I drink I guess because I'm insecure. ... I guess I can't accept the fact that I'm Dean Martin, the movie star and all that stuff. To me, really deep down, I know I'm only Dino Crocetti from Steubenville, Ohio, and I suppose I gotta drink in order to believe I really am Dean Martin. .. without the booze I'm Wayne Newton." But since Dino is always in on the joke and sees the whole world as a con, no one (incl. this reader) knows whether or not to believe him. Jeanne says he couldn't help being the way he was because he "was always on the con, with crooks, cheats and hookers, I don't think he knew any better." As for his philandering, Jeanne accepted it but says Dean may have only felt a little shame but NEVER any guilt.

P. 90 -- we FINALLY meet Frank Sinatra! I won't get into all the Rat Pack antics as they're all pretty familiar by now and I ranted about it at the beginning. For the next 30 pages it's all the glitz and glamor we expect from the Summit. They do Ocean's 11 and do their act at the Sands to help out Sinatra's pal Sam Giancana and the mob, since Vegas is no longer doing the business it once did. Of course, after the Rat Pack arrive, Vegas booms. Dino is able to wisemouth Giancana and the mobsters while no else can; only Dino, Sinatra reveals, could do this. Not even he could get away with it. Why? 'Cause he was Dino. Frank reunites Dino with Jerry Lewis during the telethon but here it's a gaping error; in reality, the reunion happened in 1976 or so. Here, it's like 1960! Jerry says earlier in the film "and we didn't speak for 25 years", yet it's only 5 years later in screen time the way the movie presents it! That blatant goof really irked me; how could Pileggi not catch that?!

P. 120-147 deals with the whole Sinatra-JFK-Giancana-Judith Campbell Exner affair that the HBO film dealt with. Again, it's really Sinatra's plot here with Dino just along for the ride to appease Frank. He knows that the Kennedys will ditch them when the time comes and that they're only a couple of "dagos" to them. They'll invite you to the White House but count the silverware before you leave. JFK and RFK are just talking heads; whoever plays them will just be playing the myth, which curses every actor portraying a Kennedy to turn in a bad performance. Unfortunately, the script gives the characters nothing else to play but that image. The party comes to an abrupt and tragic end when JFK goes to Dallas in 1963 and [MAJOR SPOLIER DELETED :) ] The script implies the mob was behind his death; they openly wish for gangbuster Bobby's death. Pileggi stops the objective viewpoint in his writing when he gives us a full paragraph about what JFK's death means for all involved! Christ, that kind of thing wouldn't get passed a freshman screenwriting class! There is a montage of JFK's motorcade and his funeral procession intercut with a recreation of the closing finale of Ocean's Eleven with Sammy singing the end song.

The last twenty pages brings us back to where we were at the beginning. Dean retiring from his TV show and divorcing Jean for a younger flame. His beloved son Dean Paul is now an adult, dating Dorothy Hamill and a captain the USAF reserves. Dean Paul wants to take his old man flying but Dean won't no matter how liberating his son says it is. Dean thinks his boy's crazy for wanting to serve his country; after all, to Dean, the world is crooked and you gotta fight it alone. Besides, why does his son want to fight to escape -- from Beverly Hills? Dean Paul responds "I can dream, can't I?" But Dino never gets a chance to bond further with his son. Dean Paul's fighter jet crashes into a mountain, ironically the same one Sinatra's mother died hitting. Dino's adherence to his cagey, immigrant-inspired world view has prevented him from growing close to his pride and joy and now it's too late. As I said before, however, this climax lacks the pathos needed because Dean Paul is so under develeoped and seen so little in the film. And when he is he is a symbol not a character. In the end, Dino has completely withdrawn from life. He even drops out of the Rat Pack reunion tour, much to Sinatra's chagrin. The film ends with Dino dining alone in the back room of La Famiglia restaurant in Beverly Hills and being introduced to a young boy named Dominic. Dino adjusts the kid's suit in the mirror, showing up to dress just right, passing on the tips of having a cool image to a new generation. Dino, alone at the table, has a spotlight pointed at him in a surreal moment, as if God is calling him. The script ends with the young cool Dino we all remember and love crooning "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" as the end credits roll.

In closing (yay!!), the script to DINO presents an at times exciting and poignant study of an elusive and entertaining man and of a once-in-a lifetime moment in US pop culture history. It's problems lay with its underdeveloped characterizations and the over-all familiarity of the Rat Pack/JFK/Giancana sequences. Scorsese has said in print and TV interviews his intention with this film is to show how Dean Martin was born Dino Crocetti and stayed that way until he died. This project will allow him many visceral flourishes I'm sure, but I think the plotless-overlong-V.O. narration-wiseguy film this has been done to death by Marty. If Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski can craft poignant, funny, entertaining and enlightening portraits of such larger than life people as ed Wood, Larry Flynt, and Andy Kaufmann, then I don't accept that Scorsese and Pileggi can't do the same with DINO. Maybe those 2 writers can take a stab at rewriting this? Otherwise, DINO may make you enjoy some of the high life sequences but you may, like Dino did with everything in his life, walk away from it and not give a damn despite all the fun. I'm afraid I did against my best wishes. Let's hope that can be changed before this film finally gets made.


Readers Talkback
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  • April 27, 1999, 4:56 a.m. CST

    Benicio Del Toro

    by clark thorne

    Or Peter Gallagher (Hudsucker Proxy cameo)as Martin. Alec Baldwin as Sinatra.

  • April 27, 1999, 5:14 a.m. CST

    Dean Martin's celebrity roast

    by spike lee

    I got lung cancer just by watching it. Does anybody know what happened to that Richard Pryor bio picture that Scorsese was working on, with Damon Wayans as Pryor? That would of been great!

  • April 27, 1999, 6:43 a.m. CST

    Why isn't this a Sinatra epic?

    by Mike D

    When the very idea of this project had first surfaced, I couldn't understand why Scorsese hadn't chose to do a picture on Sinatra. Sure, many projects have been done on him before, by television and so forth, and we already know his story. But you gotta admit, he had one heck of a life story. And now I'm very disappointed to hear that this draft of the DINO script is less than par for a Scorsese film, as we all know that CASINO did in fact suffer greatly because of IT'S 'played-out' script. I DO believe that Tom Hanks CAN pull the role off, and I always enjoy watching Scorsese work his magic with the camera. But other than these couple elements, this film might be a disaster waiting to happen.

  • April 27, 1999, 7:15 a.m. CST


    by Mongoose

    I quite agree, I can't see Hanks as Dino. I think Travolta would be infinitely better cast in this role. Which would be great because, physically, he is far to big to play Sinatra.

  • April 27, 1999, 8:14 a.m. CST


    by ardeth

    Sad to think that after all the career momentum Chaz Palminteri had built up due to A Bronx Tale, and how he originally was supposed to write and star in Dino, with Scorsese as director, he was set back by Cancer (I believe)a few years ago. He's at least credible. I've had it up to my neck with every role supposedly for Hanks, Carrey, Travolta or Cage. Save Hanks, the other three are a little above par as actors, at best.

  • April 27, 1999, 9:45 a.m. CST

    Bringing out the Dead?

    by L'Auteur says that Scorsese's next film is BRINGING OUT THE DEAD with Nic Cage. What's the story? Which is it? I agree with the one who said that it'd be nice if Scorsese would do more off-the-wall movies like AFTER HOURS rather than GOODFELLAS sequels like CASINO and DINO. BTW, Nic Cage is a total fucking sell-out (win one measly Oscar, and that gives you the right to make nothing but dumb action movies?) and I'd be pissed at Scorsese if he gave him a job.

  • April 27, 1999, 9:52 a.m. CST


    by W. Leach

    I've heard about this project for a long time, and am very glad that Martin Scorsese will direct it. The 1992 biography, DINO, seems very Scorsese-esque, what with the profane language and violence which runs throughout the book. Nicholas Pileggi is a great writer, and I'm sure the above review was only the skeleton of what the final draft will be. As far as I'm concerned, Scorsese and Pileggi are the Billy Wilder/I.A.L. Diamond director/writer combo of the 1990s. GOODFELLAS? A masterpiece. One of my top ten favorite films of all time. CASINO? Horribly underrated movie. I LOVE CASINO!! CASINO IS A BRILLIANT MOTION PICTURE! CASINO is eons ahead of the same-time-released HEAT, which played like an overextended TV cop show (hey, it was directed by Michael Mann). No doubt DINO will be equally brilliant, what with Scorsese's directorial style, Pileggi's screenplay, and a killer soundtrack of cool tunes. In my opinion, Dean Martin is the coolest of the cool. Martin had more coolness in his pinky finger than Sinatra had in his whole overbloated ego. Dino WAS the man, and don't you forget it. No doubt this project will be a lot more interesting and entertaining than that God-awful RAT PACK movie which aired on HBO last summer. The film was like a Saturday Night Live skit from the mid-1980s, with such notable "comedians" as Anthony Michael Hall, Randy Quaid, and Robert Downey, Jr. Now don't get me wrong here. Ray Liotta, Joe Mantegna, and Don Cheadle are excellent actors. Not "Movie Stars," but "Actors," and there's a hell of a big difference. These three guys are the ones who should be pulling the fifteen-twenty million dollar salaries, not ... never mind. As for the casting in DINO: I agree that Tom Hanks would be miscast. Hanks is a fine actor (I can't wait for THE GREEN MILE -- I actually pictured him in the role of Paul Edgecombe when I first read the book three years ago), but he doesn't cut the mustard as the swinging Dino. Ditto Travolta as Sinatra ... except for the blue eyes, I don't see a resemblance. I had actually heard (although it's just a rumor) that Hugh Grant might play Peter Lawford, JFK's brother-in-law, and Sinatra whipping-boy, but that would be interesting casting. I heard that Adam Sandler might play Joey Bishop (I don't know about the Bishop role in DINO, but in THE RAT PACK, the only surviving member of the clan had a few fleeting appearances). Jim Carrey as Jerry Lewis? Could work. Remember his Lewis impression on IN LIVING COLOR? As for Sam Giancana ... how about Robert De Niro? I know it would seem like another "gangster" role, but the actor and Scorsese have made eight films together. Giancana seems tailor-made for De Niro. Just a thought, anyway.

  • April 27, 1999, 9:57 a.m. CST

    It'd be (blip!)

    by bob g

    I have to say that the comment about the character not changing for three hours reminded me of that OTHER epic starring what's-his-name...oh, yeah, Tom Hanks - FORREST GUMP. See the similarity? I do also agree that Hanks, who can be superb, is in no way charismatic and sexual enough to play Dean Martin. Bravo, Adam Sanders as Jerry Lewis, however. And I have one casting suggestion of my own. I've met the wacky and talented Anne Magnuson, and she's be pretty wonderful as her look-alike, Shirley MacLaine.

  • April 27, 1999, 10:44 a.m. CST

    Scorsese's next

    by JaneDoe33

    BRINGING OUT THE DEAD is done with reshoots now. I think it's supposed to be out in the fall sometime.

  • April 27, 1999, 11:03 a.m. CST

    No Matt Helm?

    by Harri Seldon

    Sorry to hear there are no Matt Helm references in this version of the script... would love to see a scene with Dino stumbling drunkenly around one of those 60's quasi-futurist kitsch sets, hitting on various blondes in furry bikinis a-la Austin Powers. Could be a bit of needed ironic fun in what may turn out to be a rather overwrought film. Guess I can't see Hanks as Dino either, although he would make a great Jerry Lewis. Thanks for indulging me...

  • April 27, 1999, 12:39 p.m. CST

    Hanks will be fine as Dino

    by emorr

    He played him on SNL around 15 years ago. I still recall seeing the skit too, laughing like hell. Don't worry, he'll be fine. Oh, and I also predict Carrey will signon as Jerry Lewis. He idolizes the man. Guess we'll see....

  • April 27, 1999, 1:43 p.m. CST

    Hanks+Travolta+Sandler+Carrey+DeNiro=MASSIVE THROBBING HIT

    by Wesley Snipes

    With a cast that included Tom Hanks, Travolta, Sandler, Carrey, Hugh Grant, and perhaps Cage or De Niro,you would be guaranteed a massive box office. Even if you like none of them particularly, the combination of all of them in a film would be boxoffice gold! Personally none of those stars interests me much, but I would pay in an instant to see them all in a big Scorcese acting epic. The draw would be huge the world over. And with Scorcese at the helm plus somewhat limited screentime for many of them, it is very conceivable that they could actually get that cast and do it relatively cheap up front... well maybe.

  • April 27, 1999, 1:50 p.m. CST

    Thanks, Stax...

    by Angus

    ... for a detailed, thoughtful review of a project I've been very intrigued by. However, everyone should keep in mind that Scorsese has described his partnership with Pileggi as being EXTREMELY loose and organic. CASINO, for instance, didn't even start filming with a screenplay, but rather a treatment that was wide open for improvisation. (As opposed to Scorsese's work with Paul Schrader, which is all on the page.) Look at the script you read as a blueprint -- no matter what draft it is -- that will be radically different from the finished product. Also, those wondering why Scorsese would be drawn to Dino and not Frank should read the book that started it all: DINO by Nick Tosches. The point of that book is actually the very non-story of Dino's life that seems to be a problem with the script. Of course Scorsese would be drawn to this man who is described as an emotional blank; he's been telling that story since the beginning of his career.

  • April 27, 1999, 2:51 p.m. CST

    Tom Hanks

    by Whitey

    Yes, of course they'll be lots of improv by the actors but I'm not sure how much of an improvisational actor Hanks is. Any fans of his out there who know his working habits? I wonder how much improv you can do when you're playing such a recognizable character. Guess it depends on the point of the scene. I'm sure going for the joke will be easier this way. I read the draft of "Casino" before the film came out; the script and the final were actually quite similar, right down to the dialogue in parts (so it's not like it's all "show up on the set and make it up". That's not how Scorsese improvises. It's a structured and rehearsed thing with him, not ad libbing). So after seeing Casino I was disappointed because all the energy that was there in the page just wasn't there onscreen. I hope Dino works better.

  • April 27, 1999, 4:19 p.m. CST

    Hank's is wrong!!!

    by Thunderball

    Don't get me wrong. Tom Hanks is a wonderful, talented actor but he isn't Dean Martin. He doesn't come across as a Romeo. And John Travolta, another wonderful actor, is also wrong for Frank Sinatra. What do you do with two gifted actors in the wrong parts? The answer to this problem is simple...they (Hanks and Travolta) change roles. I can see Travolta as Dean Martin and I think Hanks has got the balls to pull off a believeable Sinatra.

  • April 27, 1999, 4:28 p.m. CST

    Will Travolta really be in this ...

    by Whitey

    ... when he's supposed to play Italian crooner Jimmy Roselli in Gus Van Sant's "Standing Room Only", shooting this fall after he does "Battlefield: Earth"? I don't see a major star like him doing two roles so similar to each other so close together, especially when Sinatra's only a supporting role?

  • April 27, 1999, 5:43 p.m. CST

    Jerry Lewis casting...

    by Retina54

    I have heard from various sources that comedic actor Lee Evans ("Funny Bones", "Something About Mary") has been approached for the role of Jerry Lewis.

  • April 27, 1999, 10:25 p.m. CST

    Andy Garcia

    by idb

    When I was an undergrad at Northwestern, I took a class on Scrosese taught by Gary Wills. Needless to say, I have a good feel for Marty's style. I am also a huge fan of Dino, not just the movies, but the music. Andy Garcia would be PERFECT for the part. Not that candy-ass hanks.

  • April 28, 1999, 2:46 a.m. CST

    Big <SIGH>

    by awkwardboyhero

    I mentioned this before when Harry first talked about "Dino"...... all the great potential biopics that could have been made but weren't...Spike Lee once expressed interest in doing the Jackie Robinson story, Oliver Stone was going to cover the life and times of Harvey Milk. Robin Williams expressed interest in that and then Daniel Day-Lewis. Anyone know anymore? It seems that this might be a big mistake, I agree. Especially the casting of Tom "Am I An American Legend Yet?" Hanks.

  • April 28, 1999, 7:02 a.m. CST

    same actors over and over and over.

    by gsolo

    Hanks+Travolta+Sandler+Carrey+DeNiro. They might as well fire the rest of the worlds actors. Nobody else gets anywork anyhow. Why I think Hanks and Travolta should be the leads in every feature from here on out. In this day and an age I think Carrey may be the most refreshing now that he is moving onto drama. That last sentence wasn't sarcasm.

  • April 28, 1999, 7:36 a.m. CST

    "Hand me the keys you cocksucker"

    by Mr Orange

    Benicio Del Toro would be perfectly cast as Martin in this movie. Not only is he way younger than Hanks he's a severely underrated actor and I think he could do wonders with this role

  • April 28, 1999, 7:48 a.m. CST

    "Gangs of New York"

    by PoldenHike

    "Dino", if it ever comes to be, will most likely be Scorsese's NEXT next project. "Bringing Out the Dead" is indeed coming out in the fall, and as was reported many places BACK IN FEBRUARY, Scorsese is lining up to shoot "Gangs of New York" in the fall sometime, with (so far) Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert DeNiro. It is a story of the Irish (and other) gangs in NYC at the turn of the century. Jay Cocks ("The Age of Innocence") is writing the script based on Herbert Asbury's novel. So it would be, at earliest, two falls from now before "Dino" would be able to go, and if even half of the rumored stars are cast, the scheduling is going to be a other words, don't hold your breath. It's still all a long ways off.

  • April 28, 1999, 12:30 p.m. CST

    BAN SCORSESE!!!!!!!!

    by bombay

    SCORSESE must be stopprd from making anymore movies!DINO will be 4hours of voiceovers!!!!!!!SCORSESE MUST BE STOPPED!!!!!!!!

  • Hi - GREAT article. I was hoping for better from Scorsese, but I guess I shouldn't have. I am a lifelong fan (34 years & counting) & student of Dean's - and i don't understand why every turn at his life ultimately ends up a mini-docudrama on Lewis & Sintra! I'm sick of both of them! We know all the stories - and like you said - Dean didn't care about most of that crap! He didn't even show up for JFK's inagural! Dean was a complex, warm, multi-talented man from every source I can find - not this cold, lonely, playboy. He is never given any credit for his talents (despite being a better singer than Frank, a funnier comic than Jerry - the only one of them to have a long running series on tv at all) in any field, despite his years of success. Instead e is glossed over as unknowable and the filmmakers zero in on Jerry & Frank! Obviously they are interviewing the wrong people . . . And I told people as soon as I heard about the project that Hanks was wrong - for your reasons. My first suggestion was George Clooney - that little-bad-bo sexiness is as cose to Dean as you can come. Shame they re too oldor I'd suggest Harrison Ford (he'd be a great Dino) or even a Ralph Waite (i could see it)!! Glad to seee i was on the right track!! Anyway -- I wish they would actually use a better source than the often wrong & overly callous Tosches (as someone who was very close to Dino persoally told me "The book says a lot more about Nick Tosches than it does about Dean Martin.") - and the usual interiews with all the wrong people (Jerry & Jeanne Camp). Why can't someone actually DO the legwork required to get a handle on Dean and give us some thoughtful insight instead of more tired RatPack crap - that was a very small part of a long, successful career!! Why can't someone recognize the enormous talents of this man -- why does the whole world seem to begrudge him the respect he is due!?!! It's time they stopped dismissing his blatant talent and just knuckle under and do the work and get to know a little abotu the MAN, not the myth.

  • April 30, 1999, 12:28 p.m. CST


    by Anton_Sirius

    Even with the exhaustive autopsy on the script (how much do you charge for an analysis, btw?) that's not the part of the movie that worries me. It's the stunt casting. Hanks would make me puke blood if he got that part. If I see that smug, insufferable finger-on-chin look staring out at me from one more magazine cover I will go Columbine I swear to God. Ditto Travolta. And why would Carrey, Sandler etc. take twenty minutes of screen time in a supporting role, even if they do get to work with a master? That's the kind of thing actors do on the downside of their careers, not when they're at the top. Hell, even the Rat Pack movies themselves weren't that top-heavy with stars. For a movie like this, with a writer/director team like this, I'm not convinced you'd need any A-list names at all. Scorsese makes stars; he doesn't need to lean on them.

  • May 8, 1999, 3:26 a.m. CST


    by noahsark

    Man, it sure is in with guys knowadays to knock Tom Hanks, isn't it? I hear it all the time from the boys, & I do mean BOYS, who consider themselves way cooler than any Hollywood hero. Could it simply be jealousy of a truly nice, talented man who seems to be on a golden path in life? Anyway, I ran your little analysis of Tommy's sex appeal by all my female friends, family & coworkers & guess what, boys (and I do mean BOYS)? We were unanimous in our sexual & emotional attraction to the endearing Mr. Hanks. Most sighted APOLLO 13 & SAVING PRIVATE RYAN as prime examples of his machismo appeal. Not to mention the lovely things he always has to say about his wife, the lovely Rita. You boys just gotta face the facts - women don't judge men the way men judge women! Not that we can't be moved by a pretty face or bod, but the true sex appeal comes from something much deeper than Pamela Lee's plastic boobs. And I fear you boys will never ever GET IT...So, just rest assured that the female population out here thinks Tom will be smashing as Dino (after all, it is called ACTING, guys) & we'll all be thinking of your little snipes & digs when Tommy is hopping up to the podium to accept his third Oscar! As for John Travolta, good actor, another nice guy & cute as the dickens, but possibly too cute to believably play a hard-nose like Sinatra. Felt the same way about Ray Liotta. They should just get an unknown. And for god's sake, bring back Don Cheadle as Sammy - after, THE RAT PACK, I can't see anyone else in that part! Can't comment on the script coz I haven't read it, but I'm sure by now it's been revised a few times & will be further during the shoot, so relax....Scorsese has yet to make a bad film & I don't think he's gonna start now. It's high time for his Oscar & who knows, this could be THE ONE!!

  • May 24, 2006, 9:34 a.m. CST

    And here was I thinking...

    by seppukudkurosawa

    AICN&#39;s Dino de Laurentiis was getting a movie made about his life-story. He is a gonna be a quite mad when he a sees this missed opportunity, eh paisson?

  • July 22, 2006, 5:32 p.m. CST

    The meteoric rise and fall of a plucky T-Rex

    by Wolfpack

  • July 27, 2010, 9:52 a.m. CST

    A Few Minor Script Changes Later . . .


    And this came out. It was called "The Aviator".