Otto Preminger’s The Man with the Golden Arm is a feature that focuses on addiction to narcotics. Clinical in its probing of the agonies, this is a gripping, fascinating film, expertly produced and directed and performed with marked conviction by Frank Sinatra as the drug slave.
Sinatra returns to squalid Chicago haunts after six months in hospital where he was ‘cured’ of his addiction. Thwarted in his attempt to land a job as a musician, he resumes as the dealer in a smalltime professional poker game.
Eleanor Parker is a pathetic figure as his wife, pretending to be chair-ridden for the sole purpose of making Sinatra stay by her side. A downstairs neighbor is Kim Novak, and the s.a. angles are not overlooked by the camera. Arnold Stang is Sparrow, Sinatra’s subservient sidekick with the larcenous inclinations.
It’s the story that counts most, however. Screenplay from the Nelson Algren novel, analyzes the drug addict with strong conviction. What goes on looks for real.
Novel titles are by Saul Bass, and the music by Elmer Bernstein deftly sets the mood.
1955: Nominations: Best Actor (Frank Sinatra), B&W Art Direction, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture