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 <email@example.com>
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.
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