"Breezy" isn't the first word that always comes to mind when dealing with gangster films, but it's applicable to Robin and the Seven Hoods, a decidedly lighthearted little excursion into gang territory. "Bizarre" also applies, but the film is so innocuous that the oddness doesn't get in the way. Rat Pack fans will be the most delighted by Robin, but while it certainly helps to like the kind of in-jokes that permeate the film, even those "not in the know" will find it enjoyable, if awkwardly structured and a bit long. The Sammy Cahn/Jimmy Van Heusen score has some truly atrocious lyrics, but composer Van Heusen knew how to write for this cast, and the songs fit very well with their voices and styles. Frank Sinatra is in his full mid-'60s mode, tossing off lines carelessly and giving an effortless, relaxed performance -- as do Bing Crosby and Dean Martin, leaving the field clear for Sammy Davis Jr. to supply pep and vitality. Fortunately, the relaxed nature of so much of the cast comes across as sheer ease, and the leads all seem to just be having fun. All of this allows Peter Falk to practically walk away with the film with his wonderful Gisborne, and walk he does. Robin runs out of steam before its finish and could easily have stood to lose 15 minutes, but it's a genial and amusing little time capsule.
by Craig Butler review