The Man with the Golden Arm (1955)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  16 January 1956 (Brazil)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 6,414 users  
Reviews: 73 user | 46 critic

Strung-out junkie deals with daily demoralizing drug addiction while crippled wife and card sharks continue to pull him down.



(screenplay), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Director: Lewis Allen
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Complete credited cast:
John Conte ...
Doro Merande ...
Sam Markette
George Mathews ...
Leonid Kinskey ...
Emile Meyer ...
Detective Bednar


Frankie Machine is a skilled card dealer and one-time heroin addict. When he returns home from jail, he struggles to find a new livelihood and to avoid slipping back into addiction. Written by Mike Campanelli <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

16 January 1956 (Brazil)  »

Also Known As:

Der Mann mit dem goldenen Arm  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Ray Bradbury turned down offers to collaborate on the screenplay, along with the screenplay for Anatomy of a Murder (1959), which Bradbury claimed was $200,000 worth of work. Bradbury said of the refusal "I don't give a goddamn about drugs; it bores the hell out of me. I don't understand the people who take them. So why would I write a screenplay? I'd get a writer's block immediately." See more »


In a scene very roughly twenty minutes in, as the camera exits the bar following Frankie, the jukebox can be seen to slide out of the way of the camera at the bottom of the screen. See more »


Frankie Machine: You got any money, Molly?... I feel so sick. I hurt all over...
Molly: Jump off a roof if you're gonna kill yourself but don't ask me to help ya...
See more »


Featured in Frank in the Fifties (2008) See more »


Jazz sequences
Played by Shorty Rogers and His Giants with Shelly Manne
See more »

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User Reviews

Only the subject matter of this film is dated.
28 February 2001 | by (Virginia) – See all my reviews

We have moved far beyond this tentative foray into a forbidden area-drug addiction-for the 1950s. As such, the film may seem dated. The Man with the Golden Arm served its function is peeling back a layer of the underside of society, an eye-opener to a Southern country boy in 1955 when I first viewed this film in the theater. After some serious consideration about being too young, I was allowed to go. It was powerful and affecting then and still maintains some sharp, painful moments of the soul stripped naked. As a movie depicting the loneliness at the core of being, it succeeds.

Filled with angst, Frank Sinatra, in his best role, creates a vulnerability that makes him sympathetic to the viewer. He conveys his helplessness and ineffectualness in a beautifully restrained performance. As a voice of common sense in the dead-end urban jungle, Kim Novak as Molly is quite good. She is compassionate and yet stands on solid ground. The interaction between Sinatra and Novak is really good. Darren McGavin plays a slimy character and does it very well. Eleanor Parker is superbly irritating and painfully insecure in her role of the pathetic Zosch, the crippled wife of Sinatra. Arnold Stang is another unlikely survivor of the street. Regarded as pitiful and despicable, his character Sparrow provides tart comedic moments.

The music is almost the star of this film-brooding, frenetic, moody, poignant. Elmer Bernstein's score perfectly accentuates the tensions of Frankie Machine's spiritual weakness and physical need for heroin. Molly's theme is bittersweet and captures aurally what the film depicts visually. I know of no other soundtrack that effectively complements the tension and defeat within a man as effectively as does this one.

52 of 57 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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