peteg's blog

The Man With The Golden Arm

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Otto Preminger adapts Nelson Algren's famous Chicago novel, which I never got around to reading. In black-and-white. Sinatra plays the lead and got a theme song and Oscar nomination. Barry Adamson later futzed with the former. Kim Novak is the bargirl with a heart of gold / irrepressible crush on Frank, and Eleanor Parker the I'll-never-capture-better desperado who he is responsible for. Darren McGavin is perfect as the drug pusher and general streetwise hustler. The sets are a bit crap, which is a shame as it would've been awesome to see the Chicago of the day. I think the stretch of Clark St they infest is close to where I live, i.e. in River North. The scene where Frank relinquishes junk is a pro forma for Trainspotting: one final fix, etc. but no bucket or tins of soup. He is less adept at trashing rooms than you'd expect. The conclusion is a cheap resolution of many contrivances: Novak's arched eyebrow heading out-of-frame, hand on choose-life Sinatra's arm, as the body of her rival is whisked away in an ambulance.