Dave Hirsch, a writer and army veteran winds up in his small Indiana hometown, to the dismay of his respectable older brother. He meets and befriends various different characters and tries to figure out what to do with his life.
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In the post-war, the alcoholic and bitter veteran military and former writer Dave Hirsch returns from Chicago to his hometown Parkman, Indiana. He is followed by Ginnie Moorehead, a vulgar and easy woman with whom he spent his last night in Chicago that has fallen in love with him. The resentful Dave meets his older brother Frank Hirsh, who owns a jewelry store and is a prominent citizen of Parkman that invites him to have dinner with his family. Dave meets his sister-in-law Agnes that hates him since one character of his novel had been visibly inspired on her, and his teenage niece Dawn. Frank introduces the school teacher Gwen French to him and Dave feels attracted by the beautiful woman that is daughter of his former Professor Robert Haven French and idolizes his work as writer. However, his unrequited love with Gwen drives Dave back to the local bar where he befriends the professional gambler Bama Dillert and meets Ginnie again with the Chicago's mobster Raymond Lanchak that was ... Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
"Rat-Pack" Classic with MacLaine in Stand-Out Performance!
Frank Sinatra and Shirley MacLaine are perfectly cast as the embittered, street-wise/intellectual "black sheep" and the floozie with a heart of gold. As the 2 1/2 hour drama unfolds, the viewer learns that the "respectable people" are often hypocrites, shielding their shame behind money and power. More concerned about "what the papers will print" than about how human beings are affected by misfortunes and embarrassing incidents.
The tragic ending hints at a re-birth of human compassion in a Payton Place-like town where the haves and the have-nots are in contrast of each other. The Frank Sinatra character evolves from embittered teenager who is shipped off to boarding school by a newlywed adult brother, to respected author (exposing the hypocrisies of his hometown with his thinly disguised autobiographical novels), to revenge seeking released military man/gambler. The street girl who falls in unanswered love with him, sticks by him to the end. Unanswered questions are left to the viewer's interpretation.
This film, though quite lengthy, is captivating and entertaining. Vincent Minnelli's first stab at directing a drama is certainly remarkable. The emphasis on Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra as hard drinking and brawling gamblers can be off-putting. Viewed in the dated context (the story is set in the late 1940s, although the film was produced in 1959), viewers may consider the times, where similar situations were commonplace. Shirley MacLaine's performance is among her very best. This is an engaging character study that held my attention throughout.
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