In 1968, one year after his debut in the role, Frank Sinatra returned as Detective Tony Rome in LADY IN CEMENT, a time-capsule of sixties hard drinking, chain-smoking, Rat Pack-cool crime solving.
This time, Rome opens the film doing some scuba diving when he finds a beautiful blond nude at the bottom of the ocean, her feet encased in a block of cement.
As Rome's friend Lt. Santini (Richard Conte) starts his own investigation, Rome goes on the trail that takes him through a go-go club (VERY sixties), a very big bad guy played by Bonanza's Hoss, Dan Blocker and plenty of fist fights, booze and smokes.
Raquel Welch is on hand as a wealthy Florida woman caught in the middle of the investigation and Richard Deacon (Mel on The Dick Van Dyke Show!) is a mobbed up club owner.
Sinatra is effortlessly cool throughout, having fun without trying too hard to emote, but earning plenty of easy laughs with a highball or a .45 always in hand.
60's Miami Beach is another star of the movie, with Jilly's nightclub and the Fontenbleau Hotel shining brightly during action scenes.
Blocker shows a lot more humor and toughness than I ever remember as Hoss and has fun with the role.
At one point, Rome walks into the room where Waldo (Blocker) is sitting and the Bonanza theme song can be heard on the TV. That is a good indication of the subtlety of the writing, which always shoots for fun versus smart and is nostalgically on target.
The music by Hugo Montenegro is hilariously bad most of the time, with horns blaring "whaaa, whaaa!" as the camera zooms in on a bikini bottom or two. Montenegro also wrote the music for "The Partridge Family" and "I Dream of Jeannie" and certainly brings that same sense of drama here...LOL
It's all fast-moving, very un-PC and sexist in a harmless 60s sort of style and plenty of fun.
I have a specific memory of passing the Round-Up drive-in with my parents in 1968 and my brother and I nudging each other and getting very excited about the naked lady at the bottom of the ocean fully on screen as we drove down Thomas Rd.
While I didn't quite experience THAT level of excitement watching it nearly 50 years later, this LADY delivers plenty of sixties Sinatra gumshoe fun and gets a nostalgic B-.