The Man With The Golden Arm: "There's a Wonderful Artificiality About It"

Out on DVD from Warner Brothers are a great many Frank Sinatra films (with tributes on TCM and even a commemorative stamp from the Post Office). But the one that excites me the most is The Man With the Golden Arm (1955), directed by Otto Preminger, with a strong performance by Sinatra. It was daring at the time in that it explored drug addiction. Based on a novel by Nelson Algren, in the film Sinatra plays a card shark and heroin addict, with Eleanor Parker as his unstable crippled wife, a sensational Kim Novak as the woman that helps Sinatra "kick" and Darren McGavin as the sleazy drug dealer. All filmed on obvious sets there's a wonderful artificiality about everything that makes me crazy when I watch it. It's like a production of Guys and Dolls that went very wrong and very dark. This movie has had a thorny life on home video -- it was one of those "public domain" titles that anyone could release and the quality was always crappy. This is from the negative and comes with a terrific feature about the groundbreaking nature of the film. And Sinatra really is great in it.

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