The Man with the Golden Arm (1955)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  16 January 1956 (Brazil)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 6,417 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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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?


The Motion Picture Association of America originally refused to issue a seal for this movie because it shows drug addiction. The next year the production code was changed to allow movies to deal with drugs, kidnapping, abortion and prostitution. The film was eventually assigned certificate no. 17011. See more »


In the first scene between Frankie and Zosch the shadow of the camera is frequently visible as it moves around the set. See more »


Louie: The monkey is never dead, Dealer. The monkey never dies. When you kick him off, he just hides in a corner, waiting his turn.
See more »


Featured in American Grindhouse (2010) See more »


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

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User Reviews

Solid Drama, & An Acting Triumph For Sinatra
17 December 2004 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

A solid drama to begin with, "The Man With the Golden Arm" is particularly worthwhile for Frank Sinatra's performance as Frankie Machine. The movie was well-conceived, and it would probably have been worth seeing with any decent lead, but Sinatra makes it even better. The story is interesting and at times compelling, as Frankie struggles against himself and his circumstances.

The story is told from the viewpoint of its era, yet the basic elements are timeless enough that the story still holds up very well. The details of Frankie's situation are less important than the general themes of him battling his own desires while also contending against "friends" who simply want to use him for their own purposes.

Sinatra was good at this kind of role, as a character with his own inner demons who must also face hostile surroundings. He channels his nervous energy into expressions and gestures that convey well what is going on inside him. The actor Sinatra deserves to be remembered for roles like this one and his roles in "The Manchurian Candidate" and "From Here to Eternity", rather than for the insubstantial 'Rat Pack' features.

The supporting cast have simpler roles, but they do their jobs satisfactorily. The story moves at a good pace, and it is complemented by an Elmer Bernstein score which, though sometimes jarring, is appropriate. The combination works well as a whole.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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