Picks and Pans Review: Frank, Liza & Sammy: the Ultimate Event

updated 05/22/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/22/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Showtime (Sat., May 20, check local listings)


Despite the title, this is hardly the Second Coming. Filmed last September before a sold-out audience at Detroit's Fox Theater, this 90-minute concert—part of a U.S. tour—was originally offered to cable viewers on Feb. 14 for $14.95, which didn't even include a set of Ginsu knives. Last names aren't needed to know we're talking Sinatra, Minnelli and Davis, appearing together on the same stage, ring-a-ding-ding. First on (and we do mean on) is Mr. Candyman himself, who's in far better voice than his co-stars. Proof that Davis is one of our most underrated singers comes with his powerfully moving "The Music of the Night" from The Phantom of the Opera. Next up is Minnelli, that frazzled ball of energy who has difficulty singing in tune or making pretty sounds. One might wonder where her appeal lies until she sings and struts Charles Aznavour's "Sailor Boy," a bittersweet ballad about a hooker who entertains the fleet. What Minnelli does best is act out a song; she should be doing Brecht-Weill numbers. Last on is Sinatra, crooning such shopworn standards as "Where or When" and "My Way." Surely he could take a creative chance on something less familiar. He scores only on "One for My Baby," using his weakening voice to dramatic advantage. By almost talking the song he makes it an intimate confession. For the finale Sinatra, Minnelli and Davis appear together, each performing signature songs. The camaraderie seems forced. Sinatra looks especially uneasy at having Minnelli hug and kiss him a lot. You get the feeling none of them will be having dinner together after the show.

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