An 'untouchable' theme…an unusual motion picture!
A junkie must face his true self to kick his drug addiction.
A junkie must face his true self to kick his drug addiction.
El hombre del brazo de oro, O Homem do Braço de Ouro, Kultainen käsivarsi
Adapted from the 1948 novel by Nelson Algren, The Man with the Golden Arm distinctly displays a memorable opening animated title sequence courtesy of graphic designer and Oscar-winning filmmaker Saul Bass. It embodies a provocativeness from its director Otto Preminger who continues to increase the dramatic anxieties throughout; which serves this intensely grimy and distinctive noir about the moral degradations of drug addiction admirably. It’s strengthened by a terrific cast which includes Frank Sinatra, Eleanor Parker and Kim Novak and is further accentuated by an outstanding jazz score by Elmer Bernstein. This was a highly controversial movie in its day and continues to be a significant big-budget cautioning story about the ugliness of drug misuse.
Hmmm, okay this isn’t how I remembered it. First off, I don’t remember it being black and white but more of a lovely sepia-like monochrome. Oh well. This version I just watched looked like complete shit.
So the real reason I chose this was for Old Blue Eyes. I think everyone could admit Sinatra’s the best thing about it. As a matter of fact, he outacts all of the actual actors in this. That Sparrow character was obnoxious and annoying am I right? Sinatra is one of those guys that thinks he’s so damned cool and good at everything that I just want to hate him. The problem is he was that fucking cool and good at everything. Dammit. Some…
Watching Sinatra act is kinda like watching Michael Jordan play baseball, he’s not bad but his talents are best suited for other things. He’s quite charismatic, though Brando who was up for this part would have taken this film to a new level.
Still, the script and the themes of addiction and recidivism that the film tackles are quite ahead of its time. Drugs are seen as the antagonist and the drug users the victims which I appreciated.
I’m not sure what it is with the 50’s as of late and why I’m having such a hard time enjoying a classic 50’s motion picture. It seems these past reviews has been filled with negativity and complaining. I apologize for that and again, I love trying new things and I’ll keep this 50’s marathon going. With that said, it’s obvious by my rating how disappointed I was with this film. I’ll keep it short because I’m honestly sick of hearing myself nitpicking.
This film just sucked the life out of me. There’s many generic subplots and lots of one dimensional characters that all seemed unrealistically portrayed. A comedic sidekick that isn’t funny. Sly bad guys being bad sly guys…
A Year of Film History Challenge
(watching a little bit of film history month by month, decade by decade)
There's a very clever manipulation of perspective in The Man with the Golden Arm that I keep thinking about: when first we meet clandestine backroom card dealer Frankie Machine (played by Frank Sinatra) he's walking around his home neighborhood in Chicago, fresh out of the joint but in recovery for an unnamed addiction that looks and smells an awful lot like heroin, and as we watch him walk it's usually from a distance, as it we're spying on him. When Frank talks of his addiction he frequently refers to it as the monkey that was on his back… but his…
i don’t know, man. something about sinatra playing a guy named frankie who talks about how great he is while everyone around him humors it just seems so phony to me.
There are parts of this that seem a little silly or a little pat now, and I'm not naive enough to think that they didn't seem so in 1955, but one thing that doesn't is Sinatra's lead performance, you see his every doubt and waver in his eyes and face, like blood in the water for all the selfish predators circling him from the moment he steps off the bus.
There was a q&a by an addiction expert after the screening, and she talked about how modern science sometimes characterizes addiction as a brain disease rather than a weakness in the will or a character flaw, and how this movie (and I would argue, Sinatra's performance specifically) possesses an implicit empathy for addicts that science is still catching up to. She also talked about how, sad as it is, the worst place for a person in recovery to go to is often their home.
“Man with the Golden Arm” is a Casio watch made out of the parts of a Rolex.
“Golden Arm” is what would, in modern parlance, be deemed ‘Oscar bait.’ A roster of legends is is on its credit lines. Sinatra did thorough research with actual drug addicts to justly portray the part of a suffering junkie. But Preminger’s usual line-treading between gravity and camp is almost totally lost, given the grim subject matter.
“Golden Arm” is important not as an anti-drug morality tale, but an example of how filmmakers can create change together. United Artists blew past the stodgy production code to release “Golden Arm,” putting it into cinemas without a ‘pass’ seal, and, to massive box office success. It’s a daring fest even by today’s standards, and one that begs to be channeled to escape major studio box office monopolies.
Works surprisingly well, all things considered. The first act is pretty mediocre and set me up for a different, more after-school-special kind of movie, and I was pretty satisfied when it turned and decided to become a more interesting, complicated crime drama about addiction. I've seen a couple Preminger movies now, and based on my limited sample size there is something just a bit wrong when he tries to portray normalcy or life at rest. That's why Anatomy of a Murder works so well, practically inventing the modern courtroom drama and Bonjour Tristesse doesn't because the relationships all feel a bit confused and uneven. That's a funny distinction, given the fact that his movies do feel lived in because of…
What a hell of a part from Frank Sinatra. Kim Novak as well, and Otto Preminger's direction on this one is top notch. I just love the soundtrack with the constant drumming creating something filled with instability and when there is no music, it feels like something is missing or something terrible will happen. Great cinema.
"The monkey never dies. When you kick him off, he just hides in a corner, waiting his turn." ~ Louie
Director Otto Preminger was no stranger to controversy. His 1953 "The Moon Is Blue" was banned in Boston for its post-Hayes use of terms like "virgin," "seduce" and "mistress." Here, he took on the Motion Picture Association of America, who initially refused to issue a seal for this movie because it shows drug addiction.
Set in Chicago's North Side, the story is based on the 1949 Nelson Algren novel of the same name. It stars Frank Sinatra as the main character Frankie Machine, a junkie card dealer recently released from prison and aiming to go straight as a professional drummer.…
Don't do drugs kids...
A drug addict gets back home after someone rehab, just to find himself deep into the world of betting and drugs.
Easily the best role from Sinatra, his inherent suave persona is just magnetic and helps you lash onto his character, especially when he's going through some harsh times.
The story plays very well with the conventions of other films that share the same themes, though it nevertheless reaches the same highs as a Requiem For A Dream. Thoughts there are still some nice twists and turn that makes it much engaging.
It takes a while for the film to actually pick up, and the whole final sequence with him battling with the abstinence seem…
Sinatra shooting heroin.
There’s nothing left to say.
Frankie Machine is one of the most ridiculous and cliche names I've ever heard.
A powerful depiction of addiction. The actors’ intensity clashes a bit with the old-fashioned studio-bound style of the piece. Sinatra and Novak still positively set the screen on fire. 🔥
The basic scenario of The Man With the Golden Arm- an ex-con looking to “go straight” but finding himself sliding back into a life of criminality- was not an especially original premise even in the 1950s: Fritz Lang arguably cornered this particular market as far back as 1937 with his excellent pre-noir You Only Live Once. And we would of course see this same type of story, with its parade of traitorous lovers, no-nonsense coppers and, of course, “one last job” tropes surface in many subsequent films; indeed Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing, which shares some similar plot points, came out only a year after The Man With the Golden Arm.
What makes Otto Preminger’s film stand out is…
Love you Sinatra <3 🥀
Mubi March II #5
The best thing about this film is Saul Bass’ poster. It’s more stylish and it gives a stronger emotional feeling than the movie.
The performances are fine, along with the direction, music, sets; pretty much everything in this film is meh. Hell, the title is more interesting the film. It does kicks up towards the end, but overall, it isn’t that impressive. It feels like New Hollywood trying to be Golden Age Hollywood.
Historically very significant, being the first Hollywood film about drug abuse at a time where you couldn't really show drug consumption at all. The ending was a bit weak though and the film can't really go to the darkest places of a junkie's life because of the Production code.
Sinatras performance is pretty convincing though and Elmer Bernsteins jazz score still slaps after 66 years.
Gets wicked preachy in the last act but the hour where this is zipping along like an old-timey Safdie Brothers joint is exhilirating. Sinatra is great and looks the part, I'm sure he will be relieved to hear this. Also: my new absolute favourite Dummy Falling From a Great Height shot.
he* bangs the drum. HAh!
I'd seen Saul Bass' radical Title Montage before (it was on the Psycho special features) but his design seems more vivid when the plot becomes apparent. Those rectangular white bars are extending outside from the screen. Maybe they're attempting to reach out (like an arm?), which is symbolized by that jagged transformation into an arm, further expressed when Sinatra drops in as a relapsed junkie who pulls his sleeve down for a fix. Along with Bernstein's propulsive jazz score, a great accompaniment to that initial momentum, is something that seemed to have fired on all cylinders.
That wasn't entirely the case. No doubt, Sinatra gives intense withdrawals as Frankie ("You mean just stop? Cold turkey? You don't understand!"), and Preminger's…
I gotta say, it's weird to see a movie about addiction that never address the protagonist drinking every day at like 2PM.
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