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The Man with the Golden Arm is a difficult watch, but it's held together by Frank Sinatra's impressively committed work in the title role. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

When illegal card dealer and recovering heroin addict Frankie Machine (Frank Sinatra) gets out of prison, he decides to straighten up. Armed with nothing but an old drum set, Frankie tries to get honest work as a drummer. But when his former employer, small-time con man Schwiefka (Robert Strauss), and Frankie's old drug dealer, Louis (Darren McGavin), re-enter his life, Frankie finds it hard to stay clean and eventually finds himself succumbing to his old habits.

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Critic Reviews for The Man With the Golden Arm

All Critics (58) | Top Critics (23) | Fresh (47) | Rotten (11)

  • The scene in which Sinatra writhes and screams in pain and delirium is one of the most shocking I have ever seen on the screen. But it is strong and effective, and, I believe, justifiable.

    December 23, 2020 | Full Review…
  • This dramatization of Nelson Algren's novel provides a sometimes revolting, sometimes dreary excursion into the lives of a full set of American lower-depths characters.

    December 23, 2020 | Full Review…
  • Saul Bass's credit titles are as brilliant as one might expect after Carmen Jones but this is an unattractive film: not because the subject is painful, but because [Preminger], with his thorough skill, shows himself so profoundly insensitive to its pain.

    December 23, 2020 | Full Review…
  • Sinatra gives a perfect portrayal of a man pulled out of line by forces stronger than he. Torn between his dream of a new life and the insidious circumstances of the old, Frankie is caught like a rat in a maze.

    December 23, 2020 | Full Review…
  • It's not a pretty picture, but it packs a lot of punch.

    December 23, 2020 | Full Review…
  • Preminger gives you the feeling of claustrophobia, to be sure, but that's not the only reason you'd like to get out. Along with in there is a growing sense of monotony and, in my case at least, an increasing disassociation with the whole shabby affair.

    December 23, 2020 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Man With the Golden Arm

  • Dec 12, 2013
    Likely Sinatra's finest work..even compared to From Here to Eternity. The story of a man returning from prison and wanting to lead a normal life has been explored a number of times but Sinatra shows his non singing chops here and is aided by the scheming Eleanor Parker.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Mar 03, 2013
    the film that changed the production code; it's hard to imagine the impact this must have had on movie audiences in 1955. the novel's super bleak ending was changed to be somewhat moralistic but hipster cool, the driving jazz score, plus sinatra's knock out performance make up for that imo. even novak is great and she's never really impressed me
    Stella D Super Reviewer
  • Sep 06, 2010
    Decent but not great movie about a ex-junkie and how he got sucked back into his habit. I'm not a Sinatra fan, but he did OK as heroin addict Frankie Machine. The title refers to Johnny's job, which is a card dealer for illegal card games. Eleanor Powell plays Johnny's wife, who is in a wheelchair because of an accident that was Johnny's fault. Kim Novak plays Johnny's mistress with her usual stiff as a board portrayal (I'm not a Novak fan either) . I'm so used to Eleanor Powell playing strong women, that seeing her playing a weakling (although not as weak as she first appears...heheh) was interesting. Her performance reminded me a great deal of Joan Crawford in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, which wouldn't be for another seven years. Could Joan have based her protrayal on Powell's? My main complaint about this film is that it seems to be two films edited together. We have the carddealer/heroin addict story, and then we have the love triangle between Johnny, his crippled wife and Molly. They only slightly seem to be connected. I can't say that this film made me any more of a fan of either Sinatra or Novak, but I don't consider it a waste of time either.
    Cindy I Super Reviewer
  • Jan 29, 2010
    Not as good as everyone says it is
    Brody M Super Reviewer

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