Tag Archives: lady in cement

>Frank Sinatra as Tony Rome< (1967, 1968)

After being passed over for the lead role in the gumshoe film Harper (1966), Frank Sinatra made a handful of similar films in the late 60s, in two of which he played the same character: Tony Rome, Miami private eye. Rome, the opening song for the eponymously titled first film helpfully informs us (“mothers lock your daughters in”), is a ladies’ man. His attraction for the female form is made obvious by two close-up shots of ladies’ behinds that essentially bookend the first film and are echoed in the second. His own irresistibility to women is portrayed as mixed in the first film (a young heiress suggests she’d “do anything” for him to take her case, but Rome doesn’t actually score in the entire movie), but sheds all hints of irony in Lady in Cement (1968), the one-year-later sequel which sees Rome hit on by not one, but two exotic dancers as well as a wealthy socialite. A minor character in the second film reduces a dead girl to her potential for motherhood without pushback. Females in general have very little non-sexual agency, being pushed around by pimps, crime bosses and other men.

Beyond being a bit of an ego booster for a Frank Sinatra who was, by then, in his 50s, the films’ casual sexism as well as the more than casual homophobia seem to be part of an attempt by an older generation to adapt to the cultural changes brought by the 1960s. Tony Rome especially has a lot of dialogue that was probably deemed risqué for that time, but comes across as mightily forced (for instance, a female character freely admits that she’s used to and okay with being called a slut, there’s an extended bit with an old lady wanting Rome to pay attention to her pussycat, and a small subplot concerns the insatiability of a newlywed woman). Continue reading