Whoever coined this apothegm about classic movie stars was right on the nose - their faces were relatively unique for Hollywood leading performers. Deanna Durbin had that arched eyebrow, June Allyson's eyes would shut when she smiled, Peter Lawford had the deepest dimples and Gene Tierney had the most sensuous overbite of the 1940s.
Frank Sinatra can be thrown in among them. This star is a joy to watch not only for his legendary talents, his swinging style or his ability to make the most public performance seem like an intimate affair, but also for a tiny tic on that celebrated visage.
Some years ago, during a close-up of Sinatra singing the ballad “I Fall In Love Too Easily” from Anchors Aweigh (1945), I noticed that he had a twitch. His lower lip on the left side briefly draws down involuntarily (see video below). I began to notice that this tic occurs from time to time when Sinatra holds a note in other songs or when, during dialogue, his character pauses to think [see his last close-up in That‘s Entertainment!(1974)].
Sinatra is remembered for his cool and surefootedness in a performance. This little mouth quirk may have no correlation whatever to what the man is actually thinking at any given time, but it gives him the appearance of vulnerability. The “imperfection” works especially well with his earlier films, when he plays characters who are just a little unsure and whom you want to “mother” - you know, bobby-soxer bait.
I began to look for Sinatra’s twitch whenever he was onscreen, and . . . yep, there it is again. I had never heard anyone mention it or talk about it, so this was my little “secret,” an almost imperceptible piece of the megastar that's all mine . . . until now.
It's difficult to see in this copy, but look for Sinatra's tic at 14sec