The Man with the Golden Arm

1955 drug movie

Rating: 16/20 (Mark: 12/20; Amy 11/20)

Plot: Frankie Machine, a poker dealer just released from prison, dreams of drumming in jazzy night clubs to make ends meet and take care of his injured and whiny wife. He's got a friend who is half-man/half-turtle, a new suit, and his own brushes. He's also got the scrumptious Kim Novak. And pretty eyes. Oh, and a heroin addiction. I almost forgot about that one. When things don't work out with his drumming aspirations, mostly because he's not very good, he decides to become a James Bond villain and forges a gold cast around his left arm to use as a bludgeon.

I liked the way the camera moved in this one, a sneaky bit of style that never got in the way of the storytelling but added a little cool to the proceedings. Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak are fine; Eleanor Parker ain't; and there's an odd assortment of supporting characters who give this a quirky flavor, including a sluggishly-sauntering pedestrian extra with a hat who I swear I saw in nine different scenes. As a drug movie, this is understandably a little dated, but I still like it twice as much as most modern drug movies. Yeah, Requiem for a Dream, I'm looking at you. I thought the scene with Frankie Machine fighting through withdrawal rang true and liked the amount of edginess that they were allowed to have in this mid-50s production. This movie might also wind up winning the 2010 shane-movies award for "Best Use of a Dummy" which I'm sure would make Otto Preminger pee on himself in his grave. This movie goes on a little longer than it should, and I'm not sure I bought it all, but I definitely liked it a little more than I expected. Bonus point for some nice poker scenes.

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