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Danny Wilson and partner Mike make a meager living singing in dives and hustling pool. One night they meet entertainer Joy Carroll, who gets them a job at racketeer Nick Driscoll's posh nightclub. But Nick wants a high price: half of Danny's future income. Danny's career skyrockets, but his position at the top of the heap, and his one-sided romance with Joy, prove extremely unstable. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Burr, Sinatra shine in obscure, thinly veiled biopic
Not at all bad. Meet Danny Wilson, a show-business melodrama with a lot of songs thrown in, betrays a distinct noirish tinge which darkens as the movie progresses. It's a thinly-veiled knockoff of the stories about Frank Sinatra's early days in show business from the shrieking bobby-soxers to the extortionist contract that almost held him back. Obviously, it stars Sinatra, at a low ebb in his career before he had gained the imperial control of his later days as Chairman of the Board, and before he had assembled the legendary `cool' that, as much as his voice, was to become his hallmark.
Crooner Danny Wilson and his pianist/manager/buddy (Alex Nichol) are a couple of rough-and-ready slum-bred boys having trouble breaking into the big time. Through the help of a lounge singer they meet up with (Shelly Winters), they get a gig in a posh nightclub run by a mobbed-up entrepreneur (Raymond Burr). The catch is, Burr spots Sinatra's potential and demands half of his future take. A messy love triangle emerges, too, with Sinatra falling head over heels for Winters, who's smitten with the loyal square rigger Nichols. The plot points get connected with the arrival of Success, in the form of recording contracts, attendant royalties and even the movies.
Most arresting is Burr as gangster Nick Driscoll. An indispensable fixture of the noir cycle, where so often he played the Heavy Menace, here he takes on a better-written, more shaded role. In addition, he's slimmed down drastically, and the slimming brings out his huge and expressive even seductive eyes. But he still doles out the menace, even if it's cushioned in unaccustomed suavity. Apart from Sinatra, he's the most memorable actor in the film (certainly more memorable than the generic Nichol).
Sinatra performs several of the hits which were to enter his standard repertory; he also duets with Winters in a patter-song. Meet Danny Wilson remains strangely obscure, but, despite a warm and perfunctory wrap-up, it's a better crafted and more solid outing than many of the movies he made in his pigs-in-clover Rat Pack days.
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