Some Came Running

Some Came Running ★★★★

Part of my 5 Directors x 5 Unseen Films (20) challenge.

Based upon James Jones' 1957 novel, this drama directed by Vincente Minnelli stars three original members of "The Clan" -- Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Shirley MacLaine. Indeed, it was MacLaine's first film with the boys, who sort of adopted her as their mascot.

The film opens in 1948 with a Greyhound bus arriving early one morning in Parkman, Indiana. Army veteran Dave Hirsh (Sinatra) is awakened by the driver, who says this is his stop. Or at least that's what Dave's friends said when they poured him drunk into the bus seat in Chicago the night before. It seems Parkman was Dave's hometown, but a place he has no particular interest in revisiting.

As the driver unloads Dave's suitcase and duffel bag, a woman named Ginnie Moorehead (MacLaine) disembarks behind the soldier. Apparently when Dave was drunk, he invited her to come along. But now that he's sober, he gives her $50 to go back. Then he gets a room in the hotel across the street from the jewelry shop owned by his brother Frank Hirsh (Arthur Kennedy).

Dave has a check for $5,500 that he asks the hotel clerk to deposit in the bank for him. But even before the banks open at 10am, news of Dave's arrival spreads like wildfire. He's been away 16 years. He published a couple of novels before the War. It's only when Frank hears the news and hops over the hotel that we learn some of the deeper story.

It seems that the Hirsh's parents passed away when Dave was 10 years old. Frank was already an adult and had just married his girlfriend Agnes (Leora Dana) and wasn't able to take Dave in, so he arranged for him to stay an orphanage. Cynically, Dave gives Frank a check for $430.00 to reimburse him for the money it cost to send Dave away. Frank doesn't want it, of course, but Dave is insistent. Then, Frank is just as insistent about Dave coming to dinner in the evening at his home.

Easy as that seems, Frank has a major problem. Agnes hates Dave. She won't let him in the house. And if Frank insists, she'll leave and have dinner at their Club. Apparently, Agnes believes one of the characters in Dave's first novel was modeled on her, and not in a flattering way.

Being a heavy drinker, Dave heads over to Smitty's Tavern for a mid-day pick-me-up. Outside, he bumps into Jane Barclay (Connie Gilchrist), who used to own the Chester Street Candy Store where Dave hung out as a kid. Now Jane works for Frank as a housekeeper and her daughter Edith (Nancy Gates) is Frank's private secretary.

Inside the bar, Dave meets the owner Smitty (Ned Wever) and a patron named Bama Dillert (Martin), who buys him a shot of whisky. Bama has heard of Dave's recent deposit (news travels fast in a small town) and he invites the soldier to a friendly evening poker game in Smitty's backroom. Dave gives him a firm maybe.

Then at 5pm, Dave meets Frank at the jewelry store and gets introduced to Miss Barclay before the brothers drive out to Frank's place -- the old Carmichael estate. Surprising both of them, Agnes is on hand to greet Frank, and she introduces Dave to their daughter Dawn (Betty Lou Keim). Dawn has a date with boyfriend Wally Dennis (John Brennan) and can't stay for dinner, but Agnes has arranged for everyone to dine at the Club with another couple, Professor Robert 'Bob" Haven French (Larry Gates) and his daughter Gwen (Martha Hyer).

Gwen teaches creative writing and has long had an interest in Parkman's hometown author. She followed his career from working on freighters to jobs in oil fields till he entered the service and stopped writing. His tells her his two books earned only $48, and he no longer considers himself a writer. Nevertheless, Dave gets Gwen to drive him to Smitty's, hitting on her without success.

At the bar, who's there but Ginnie, sitting next to Raymond Lanchak (Steve Peck), who followed her from Chicago. Raymond says she was his girl and although Dave beat him in a fight, he's there to take her back. It makes no matter to Dave. He heads into the backroom for poker and soon has a showdown with Bama over a big pot. Dave wins, but showing no hard feelings, Bama introduces him to his girl Rosalie (Carmen Phillips), who works the night shift at the brassiere factory. Dave grabs Ginnie and makes it a double date.

But Raymond is still in the picture. He jumps Dave outside Smitty's and the ensuing street brawl gets them both arrested for disturbing the peace, along with Ginnie. Bama bails Dave out and gives him a room in the house he rents. Frank shows up to confront Dave with his bad behavior, but Dave knows it's not Frank's problem, but big brother takes it personally -- a smear on his reputation.


**** CAUTION - POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD ****

Dave falls for Gwen. She reads his unfinished manuscript and likes it. He seduces her. Frank has a row with Agnes. He goes out and stops by the store where Edith is working late. They go for a drive together. They get spotted by Dawn. Meanwhile, Gwen rejects Dave's offer of marriage. Hurt, he decides to go with Bama to Terra Haute for a card game, and they take Rosalie and Ginnie along. Dawn disappears. Edith starts bugging Frank for more attention. The Terra Haute dance club sequence is totally LOL.

Dawn showing up at the Terra Haute nightclub on the arm of Teddy Harperspoon (Don Haggerty). Uncle Dave to the rescue. Dawn returns home. Dave and Bama playing poker in Indianapolis. Dave's story to be published in The Atlantic for $500. Gwen reversing her decision on Dave. A fight over poker. Bama stabbed. Sister Mary Joseph (Marion Ross) tends to Bama. The diagnosis of diabetes. Ginnie confronting Gwen about Dave. Dawn getting a job in New York. Gwen rejecting Dave in person. Dave's story published. Dave rejecting Ginnie, but reconsidering.

Dave going to marry Ginnie. Bama against the union, rejecting Dave. The marriage. Rice tossing planned at Smitty's. Raymond back in town with a gun. Dave and Ginnie strolling the Parkman Festival en route to the reception. Bama looking for Raymond and to warn Dave. The shooting. Dave taking a bullet in the arm. Ginnie killed. The funeral.

MacLaine here is the sweetest nuisance you've ever seen, simply splendid, and the role got her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Kennedy and Hyer also got Academy Award nominations for their supporting roles. Walter Plunkett was nominated for Best Costume Design, while "To Love and Be Loved" got an Oscar nomination for Best Music, Original Song.

I admit, I wasn't really ready to love this. Sinatra is only so-so with me. But the rest of the cast, MacLaine and Martin in particular, really pulled this up a notch. Well done. Mr. Minnelli. See this, by all means.

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