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Frank Sinatra plays Joe E. Lewis, a famous comedian of the 1930s-50s. When the movie opens, Lewis is a young, talented singer who performs in speakeasies. When he bolts one job for another, the mob boss who owns the first speakeasy has his thugs try to kill Lewis. Lewis survives, but his vocal cords are cut and he cannot sing. Several years later, his buddy tracks him down and tries to help him with little success. That attempt, though, leads to Lewis meeting Letty Page (Jeanne Crain). They fall in love and she inspires him to follow up on an offer to become a comedian (a result of his buddy's failed attempt to rejuvenate his singing career). Lewis has problems, though. The assault that nearly cost him his life also helped turn him into an alcoholic and an inveterate gambler. These two character defects become the basis for his act and help to make him a smash success. Unfortunately, they also work to wreak havoc in his personal life. Written by
Tremendous 1957 film showcasing the life of Joe E. Lewis. After a brief singing career ended, due to Chicago gangsters, Lewis finds another voice in comedy. Nevertheless, he was left an embittered person unable to even be happy around those who loved him dearly.
After playing a junkie in 1955's "The Man With the Golden Arm," Sinatra again gives a wonderful performance as the alcoholic Lewis. He belts out "All the Way" the way that song was supposed to be sung.
Jeanne Crain is in fine form as the wealthy woman who loved him dearly but did not marry him due to his behavior and the advent of World War 11.
The real surprise here is the wonderful supporting performance of Mitzi Gaynor as the chorus girl that Lewis wed on the rebound. Gaynor proved that she could really act as well as sing and dance here. Her drunken scene where she told Lewis off was great.
Eddie Albert got plenty of practice being around alcoholics when he appeared with Susan Hayward twice in "Smash-Up The Story of a Woman," as well as "I'll Cry Tomorrow." Albert plays the part of Lewis' understanding pianist with conviction.
The ending may be a downer but is true to life. At least, Lewis was ready to stand on his feet despite being alone.
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