The Man with the Golden Arm (1955)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  16 January 1956 (Brazil)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 6,428 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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Stars: Jackie Gleason, Carol Channing, Frankie Avalon


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?


Screenwriter Walter Newman was unhappy with Eleanor Parker as Zosh and related in a 1972 interview that he told Preminger that Shelley Winters should be cast in the role. The writer thought Joanne Woodward would be fine in the role, but she hadn't acted in a film as yet at that point and Preminger turned her down. See more »


Zasha's scrapbook is titled "My Scrapbook of Fatal Accidence" (instead of "accidents"). 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 »


Referenced in Tapang sa tapang (1997) See more »


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

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User Reviews

"C'mon, One Hustler To Another."
22 October 2005 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

The Man With a Golden Arm was one of a trio of great films around that same time that dealt with drug addiction. The other two were Monkey On My Back and A Hatful of Rain. But I think of the three this one is the best.

Maybe if Otto Preminger had shot the thing in the real Chicago instead of those obvious studio sets the film might have been better yet. Who knows, maybe Preminger couldn't get enough money to pay for the location. It's the only flaw I find in the film.

Frank Sinatra is a heroin addicted card dealer who was busted for covering for his boss Robert Strauss when the game was raided. He took the cure while in jail and wants a new life as a jazz drummer. But a whole lot of people are conspiring against him.

First Bob Strauss who wants him back dealing, especially because a couple of heavyweight gamblers are in town. He uses a few underhanded methods to get Sinatra's services back. Secondly Darren McGavin is the local dope dealer who wants Sinatra good and hooked as a customer again. And finally Eleanor Parker his clinging wife who's working a con game to beat all, just to keep him around.

Frank Sinatra got a nomination for Best Actor for this film, but lost to Ernest Borgnine in Marty. Sinatra might have won for this one if he hadn't won for From Here to Eternity in the Supporting Actor category a few years back and that Marty was such an acclaimed film in that year. His scenes going through withdrawal locked up in Kim Novak's apartment will leave you shaken.

Eleanor Parker does not get enough credit for her role. She's really something as the crazy scheming wife who wants Sinatra tied to her no matter what the cost. If she had not been nominated that same year for Interrupted Melody, she might have been nominated for this. 1955 marked the high point of her career.

Darren McGavin got his first real notice as the very serpentine drug peddler. His performance is guaranteed to make your flesh crawl.

Elmer Bernstein contributed a great jazz score to accentuate the general dinginess of the bleak Chicago neighborhood the characters live in. Not a place you'd want to bring up your family.

38 of 40 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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