The Man with the Golden Arm (1955)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  16 January 1956 (Brazil)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 6,413 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
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Did You Know?


Marlon Brando was offered the role of Frankie Machine, but Frank Sinatra jumped at the opportunity and was signed before Brando could accept. 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 »


Frankie Machine: Guy teaches me drumming down there, says I'm a natural, arms made of pure gold.
See more »


Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Stranded in Space (1991) See more »


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

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User Reviews

Gripping study of addiction
12 December 2005 | by (UK) – See all my reviews

Otto Preminger's "The Man with the Golden Arm" is a reference to heroin addiction - something that must have been rather risky to film back in 1955, fifty years ago (the censors today STILL have a problem with drug content in films!).

The lead role was originally offered to Marlon Brando, then snatched by Frank Sinatra before Brando could respond. Sinatra convincingly portrays a pro card dealer and ex-heroin addict who returns home to the city only to find himself battling the demons of temptation.

Preminger is one of my favorite directors (his "Anatomy of a Murder" starring James Stewart is a brilliant and revolutionary courtroom drama). Preminger pretty much helped change the face of cinema back in the '50s - "Anatomy of a Murder" was extremely controversial when it came out due to both its plot and content (references to rape, women's "panties," seduction, etc.) and "The Man with the Golden Arm" deals with a topic that is equally volatile.

However, Preminger pulls it off without becoming exploitative. This is like a forerunner to "The Panic in Needle Park" (1971) and bears more than a few similarities in terms of general motifs to the classic Billy Wilder movie "Lost Weekend," starring Ray Milland. These three films in particular are probably the best movies about alcoholism predating the 1980s and still remain relevant today.

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

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