For years, I’ve wanted to see The Man with the Golden Arm. I had heard it was one of Frank Sinatra’s greatest performances and the film was ahead of its time in its gritty depiction of addiction.
I would say the film scores on both counts. Sinatra is brilliant and his portrayal of an addict’s hope, good heart, insecurities and easily influenced temperament is timeless. The push and pulls of society on an addict who returns to his old environment reveals how hard it is to put behind a seedy past. Frankie Machine had talent and hope, but keeps laying down with the wrong dogs. Kim Novak and Eleanor Parker also turn in landmark performances. The entire cast is effective, including Arnold Stang, Robert Strauss and Darren McGavin.
The script is tight and filled with colorful language.
Overall, great film that was probably under appreciated in the 1950s because of its controversial subject matter, but it stands with the best work of the period.