The Man With The Golden Arm (1955)

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Once again Otto Preminger prodded at the boundaries of what was considered “mainstream” cinema in this dramatisation of drug addiction starring Frank Sinatra as a would be ex-junkie trying to rebuild his life.

Although a little tame by today’s standards, The Man With The Golden Arm was ground-breaking at the time and it contains some intelligent insights into the psychology of addiction. Darren McGavin is great as the seductively smooth-talking pusher and Kim Novak is very appealing as the true object of his affections; the only weak link is the subplot involving Frankie’s “crippled” wife which would feel overcooked even if you could ignore Eleanor Parker’s often painful over-acting.

The happy ending also fails to ring true to the rest of the story, but the film belongs to Sinatra who really gets to prove his mettle as a serious actor.

6/10

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