Monday, August 3, 2020

1109. The Man with the Golden Arm

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.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

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.


  1. I think I liked it better than you did, but I also like even the poorest of Sinatra's movies.
    There really were not many drug addiction movies at that time.

  2. I don't think it was that bad...

    I've not seen it for several years, so recollections may be a bit blurred... But I'm sure I though it was decidedly ...... OK.

  3. But was he really relatable as a drug addict to you two? I don't know, to me, he felt so put together, even when he was going through withdrawal.

    But agreed that's it cool they tackled such a heavy topic. I think Lost Weekend was better.

  4. No argument that 'Lost weekend' is better...