The Man with the Golden Arm
Directed by Otto Preminger
I had recently had a friend tell me he didn't understand all the hype surrounding Frank Sinatra. Naturally I forced him to watch High Society with me. That will teach him to tell me things. I was actually excited to see another Sinatra movie on the List, but this wasn't really his best work.
Frankie is released from a federal Narcotic Farm and returns to his wife, who has been in a wheelchair since Frankie's drunk driving accident. Frankie does his best to stay clean and become a drummer but the unsavory characters in his life have other plans.
So I knew going into this that we weren't going to get the gritty realism of drug addiction that is portrayed in Trainspotting or Requiem for a Dream. But man, they couldn't even name the drug that Frankie was hooked on (I thought it was heroine, but I guess in the original novel it was morphine). Sinatra just wasn't believable as a drug addict to me and I wonder what kind of research went into that role.
I actually didn't find any of the characters particularly believable or compelling. Frankie's wife Zosh, for example, was the typical unsupportive shrew, while Kim Novak's character didn't really have a personality of her own. And that ending was just silly.
I guess this film deserves praise for tackling such a controversial subject at the time of its release, but it is so sanded down that it is hard to enjoy now.
Marlon Brando was originally offered the role, but Frank Sinatra jumped on the opportunity before he could accept.
Ray Bradbury turned down the offer to collaborate on the screenplay.