Two aging playboys are both after the same attractive young woman, but she fends them off by claiming that she plans to remain a virgin until her wedding night. Both men determine to find a way around her objections.
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 »
When Frankie returns to his apartment after his release, the top edge of the set and the studio lights are clearly visible as the camera pans across the room. See more »
You got any money, Molly?... I feel so sick. I hurt all over...
Jump off a roof if you're gonna kill yourself but don't ask me to help ya...
See more »
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.
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