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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
A product of the Eisenhower fifties, Some Came Running, adapted from a James Jones novel, stars Frank Sinatra as a footloose writer returning to his Midwestern home town right after World War II. Directed by Vincente Minnelli, in a grand, florid manner, it is essentially a smart soap opera, with some very deep emotions, shot in garish color, that can at its best bear comparison with the films of Douglas Sirk, and is in some ways better, more imaginative. The story matters less than the characters, which aside from Sinatra's artist-in-uniform, include an alcoholic Southern gambler, played by Dean Martin, who's also his best friend; a pathetic floozie from Chicago who followed Sinatra home (Shirley MacLaine); Sinatra's brother, a frustrated if successful businessman (Arthur Kennedy); and a prim, somewhat stuffy school-teacher (Martha Hyer), who admires Sinatra as a writer but cares little for him as a man. Sinatra is torn between bad girl MacLaine and good girl Hyer; and though the former is easy to be with, if not much of a conversationalist, the latter is an ice princess, and proud of it. Understandably, Sinatra reverts to gambling, drinking and carousing with friend Dean Martin, but is clearly not happy with it. He would like to find a place in society, but how? Where?
This one could have been a classic, and the cast is for the most part excellent. MacLaine's Method-ish performance is the only jarring note, but it's a loud one. A number of things keep the film "down", or at any rate in second gear. First of all Minnelli was as man and director such an aesthete that he spends much of his time painting with his camera. Aided in no small measure by the excellent photography of William Daniels, his compositions and color create an often surreal effect, almost hallucinogenic, ultimately anti-realistic, though fascinating to watch, and this in the end detracts from the story. On the other hand Minnelli was good with people, and his more intimate scenes between people who really know each other,--Sinatra and Martin, Sinatra and MacLaine--show a genuine understanding of human behavior. Back and forth the movie goes. That its setting is Indiana make both the movie and the characters seem out of place in this most conservative of midwestern states. There is none of the wholeness here that one gets from, for instance, Kazan's On the Waterfront, where everything comes together beautifully and nothing is out of place. Here everyone seems to belong either elsewhere or nowhere, to be thinking or dreaming of other things, to not really care much for their surroundings. There is also a strong undercurrent of Tennessee Williams and William Inge-inspired textbook Freud, with the characters either sexually obsessed, sexually frustrated or sexually avoidant. I doubt the word sex is ever actually used in the movie, but it's everywhere. The Elmer Bernstein score, jazzy and doubtless influenced by Alex North's music for Streetcar Named Desire, tends to telegraph, often hilariously, how one ought to feel about what's going on, especially the raunchy, down-dirty greasy horns he deploys whenever the story moves to the wrong side of the tracks or to a card game, as if to say, "Okay Middle America, this is NOT the way to be".
For all its flaws, the movie has many grace notes, some of them even musical, as Bernstein occasionally redeems himself, especially in his lovely main theme. The compartmentalized, evasive lives most of the characters in the film live are, shorn of the melodrama, not unlike real life. Even when the plot becomes predictable the underlying emotions of the main characters remain authentic, and the result is in many ways a compartmentalized movie that at times seems to take its style from the dreams and fantasies of its various characters, becoming in effect their view of life rather than their actual lives. This feeling of fantasy versus reality becomes the movie's major issue when an old boyfriend of MacLaine's shows up, starts drinking, and begins to stalk her. The danger in the air is palpable, and as many of these later scenes take place literally in a carnival atmosphere, the film becomes simultaneously urgent and otherworldly, like someone coming off a mescaline trip who suddenly realizes that he's standing on the ledge of a twenty storey building. This was very daring of Minnelli, and I'm sure intentional, and the ending is truly heartbreaking, and yet aesthetic also, with the director refusing to give up his florid manner even in the last scene. I sense that the tragedy in the film had a very private meaning for Minnelli, and that he intended for it to have the same effect on the audience; to trigger personal issues in each viewer that he could take away from the movie which were independent of the movie. In this he succeeded magnificently.
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