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The Man With the Golden Arm

Released Dec 14, 1955 1h 59m Drama List
81% Tomatometer 59 Reviews 83% Audience Score 2,500+ Ratings
When illegal card dealer and recovering heroin addict Frankie Machine (Frank Sinatra) gets out of prison, he decides to straighten up. Armed with nothing but an old drum set, Frankie tries to get honest work as a drummer. But when his former employer, small-time con man Schwiefka (Robert Strauss), and Frankie's old drug dealer, Louis (Darren McGavin), re-enter his life, Frankie finds it hard to stay clean and eventually finds himself succumbing to his old habits. Read More Read Less
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The Man With the Golden Arm

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The Man With the Golden Arm

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Critics Consensus

The Man with the Golden Arm is a difficult watch, but it's held together by Frank Sinatra's impressively committed work in the title role.

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Critics Reviews

View All (59) Critics Reviews
Marjory Adams Boston Globe The scene in which Sinatra writhes and screams in pain and delirium is one of the most shocking I have ever seen on the screen. But it is strong and effective, and, I believe, justifiable. Dec 23, 2020 Full Review Mildred Martin Philadelphia Inquirer This dramatization of Nelson Algren's novel provides a sometimes revolting, sometimes dreary excursion into the lives of a full set of American lower-depths characters. Dec 23, 2020 Full Review James Morgan Sight & Sound Saul Bass's credit titles are as brilliant as one might expect after Carmen Jones but this is an unattractive film: not because the subject is painful, but because [Preminger], with his thorough skill, shows himself so profoundly insensitive to its pain. Dec 23, 2020 Full Review André Bazin L'Éducation Nationale These weaknesses can be ignored thanks to the admirable verisimilitude and powerful originality of the main character, wonderfully interpreted by Frank Sinatra. Dec 7, 2021 Full Review Hortense Morton (Screen Scout) San Francisco Examiner Producer-director Premlnger is one of Holly wood's most intelligent film makers. It is to be regretted that his artistic gifts were not channeled into a more uplifting drama. Dec 23, 2020 Full Review Robert Hatch The Nation Forgetting for a moment the contempt Otto Preminger has shown for the spirit of Algren's novel, he has committed the commercial sin of producing and directing a dull movie. Dec 23, 2020 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

View All (237) audience reviews
r96 s Bit of a slow-moving picture, one that might've ended sooner, though I do class 'The Man with the Golden Arm' as something rather quite good. Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak keep events moving along with strong showings, Sinatra especially. Eleanor Parker is, though, the person onscreen that I appreciated most whilst watching, there's just something about her performance that puts her ahead of her co-stars; I'd even say she overacts in parts, yet it absolutely still worked for me. The story does go round the houses a little, but even with that being the case it didn't actually affect my personal enjoyment all that much - it just totally could've been trimmed and we probably wouldn't have missed anything. Elsewhere, the score is excellent - especially the theme for when Frankie desires his habbits. I'd have to be in the right mood to revisit this. Nonetheless, it do be a very good film from 1955 - ahead of its time, that's for sure. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 05/29/24 Full Review Joshua V Another one of my favorites, first time I saw this was with my grandmother as a teenager on a Saturday night. PBS used to run a Classic Film Night. Frank Sinatra's over acting is chefs kiss. Highly recommend! Rated 4 out of 5 stars 03/23/23 Full Review Leaburn This film was average 🤏 Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 01/08/23 Full Review SICKS6SIX This must be Frank Sinatras best film ever, easily, He plays the junkie scenes like he knows all about it, he did know junkies and must have seen them go through withdrawals (cold turkey) the script is good with sub-plots from many fine actors, I've just watched the colourized version and if was dated 1965 I would not be surprised, for the time it was made 1955 it was ahead of its time in the way it portrayed his addiction, if you have not seen this film and are going to watch it be ready for a surprise, no singing or dancing from Frank, its gritty and dirty, New York of the 1950s was a dirty stinking hole, and it's well shown in this film, no glitzy nightclubs, just blues bars and card schools in run down tenement buildings, Tough cops and tough hoods, it has twist at the end that you don't see coming, there are no happy endings for anyone, It's as near to real life as Hollywood could film it at the time, There is a scene when Frank has drugs but no way of taking them, like having a cigarette but no light for it, desperation and despair, I don't know if anyone won any Academy Awards for this film, but they should have. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 07/15/22 Full Review Ed M Great acting. Sinatra. Darren McGavin! Rated 3 out of 5 stars 03/30/22 Full Review William L Oh, a CARD dealer. I thought we were talking about something else there for a while. One of the earliest films to tackle hard drug addiction (and not your more socially conventional Lost Weekend-type alcoholism), with so many years' worth of film tackling the subject more sincerely from hard drama to comedy, Preminger's film feels closer to Reefer Madness than Requiem for a Dream. What masquerades as noir is mostly melodrama, with Sintara's supposedly reformed addict full of good intentions predictably slipping back into old habits due to outside influences, bad hombres, and a few poor decisions that spiral out of control. There's a whole bit where Sinatra's wife fakes being paralyzed from the waist down in an effort to guilt him into keeping their marriage afloat that seems more like a daytime soap opera revelation than a component of a supposedly serious drama. The sets are solid and really hit on the target atmosphere, while Sinatra displays a range that you wouldn't expect of the crooner, but the good intentions don't really help the film in hiding its age; still not a bad film, and important in the depiction of addiction and substance abuse in film, particularly in the depiction of a cyclical justice system that punishes rather than reforms. (3/5) Rated 3 out of 5 stars 03/18/21 Full Review Read all reviews
The Man With the Golden Arm

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Cast & Crew

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Movie Info

Synopsis When illegal card dealer and recovering heroin addict Frankie Machine (Frank Sinatra) gets out of prison, he decides to straighten up. Armed with nothing but an old drum set, Frankie tries to get honest work as a drummer. But when his former employer, small-time con man Schwiefka (Robert Strauss), and Frankie's old drug dealer, Louis (Darren McGavin), re-enter his life, Frankie finds it hard to stay clean and eventually finds himself succumbing to his old habits.
Director
Otto Preminger
Producer
Otto Preminger
Screenwriter
Nelson Algren, Walter Newman, Lewis Meltzer, Ben Hecht
Distributor
United Artists, Reel Media International [us]
Production Co
Carlyle Productions
Genre
Drama
Original Language
English
Release Date (Theaters)
Dec 14, 1955, Original
Release Date (Streaming)
May 1, 2008
Runtime
1h 59m
Sound Mix
Mono
Aspect Ratio
35mm
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