Monday, June 2, 2008

The Man With the Golden Arm (Otto Preminger, 1955) B

The Man With the Golden Arm is an interesting film for 1955 in that it deals entirely with the post-recovery portion of drug addiction. That it deals with heroin addiction is probably the reason for its enthusiastic reaction by critics in its day, because, except for that, it's just like every other above-average addiction movie in the vein of Billy Wilder's The Lost Weekend. The film is realistic and honest, but only in that faux-50's style where people are "poor" and wear low-class clothes, but look as if they had just gotten out of hair and makeup. I thought that Frank Sinatra was pretty good, especially during his withdrawal scene, but a tad overrated. Maybe it's just his acting style, but it seems like every line is said with the same deadpan emotion. His voice goes up and down appropriately, but there's nothing really behind it to make it seem real. The real standout is Eleanor Parker as Sinatra's crippled wife. She's written as a one-dimensional guilting nag, but she wisely stays clear of that and almost becomes sort of a femme fatale, doing anything and everything to keep her man.

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