The Man With the Golden Arm - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Man With the Golden Arm Reviews

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May 1, 2019
7.5/10. 4-30-2019
February 1, 2019
The best movie score ever composed!
May 20, 2018
This film has a lot of good things going on. Let's have a rundown:
Frank Sinatra playing the lead character - good.
Art direction - good.
Music score - good.
Characters and character interactions - good.
It's so disappointing that the film starts on such a promising high only for it to spiral downward into slow derivative melodrama by the end.
Overall, the film's good qualities are enough to make it a passable experience, but man is it a disappointment.
July 16, 2017
Maybe the best movie over addiction ever shot.
April 25, 2017
Excellently acted movie, well-directed by Otto Preminger, but very dark, about a good musician who is trying to get off of heroin, but whose environment keeps tempting him back to it. The jazzy music throughout, by Shorty Rogers, is outstanding in its own right, and listening to it now evokes the ups and downs of the main character. If I had to live on a desert island, etc., this would be one I'd want to have with me.
February 4, 2017
A signature performance from Frank Sinatra as a drug addict musician trying to make good.
December 30, 2016
Edgy as hell for 1955, about an ex-junkie relapsing, murder, and suicide. I never thought Sinatra could act until I saw his complex performance in this,
November 15, 2016
A somewhat off-putting but disturbingly riveting film. Preminger and Sinatra's only film together. A shame since it was so good.
April 8, 2016
Otto Preminger's drama is the first film to tackle the harsh topic of drug addiction. Frank Sinatra is a tragic character, who has demons of his own and outside in the form of his enablers when he returns to town clean after a stint in prison. The film has lots of tension, with a booming drum based musical score and great performances from shifty and shady types. The ending is a bit on the soft side but its good all around.
March 13, 2016
Blatant drug usage mixed with a sympathetic view of it's addicts makes for an interesting '55 film. I love young Sinatra in films where he plays a kind of weak guy- he's so much more believable as the weak drug slave than as a man-about-town type of rolls he takes later on. An interesting film with some interesting characters, though it never really lives up to the stylized opening/title.
February 13, 2016
Intenso Frank Sinatra en el papel de un musico drogadicto que debe batallar contra sus demonios. El score de jazz es genial.
December 21, 2015
This film is a bad joke. John Garfield was due to play the role and he died. The film is such a superficial attempt to look at drug addiction that only simple-minded critics could possibly think this film is good. Morphine addicts do not act like Sinatra did. The book is a poetic look at mid-century America told from the viewpoint of the forgotten. The film is a worthless piece of trash that exploits Algren's great novel.
March 17, 2015
The film is daring in its subject matter, and Otto Preminger is well known for tackling controversial plots well ahead of the rest of the industry. While Sinatra is fantastic in his portrayal of a loving person with a dark habit, the film is full of random characters that are all over the place and don't necessarily do the plot any justice. Perhaps it was needed to lighten the tone of the film and distract censors from the real subject matter. At this time, the film almost veers into kitsch, which isn't always bad, but probably not what Preminger hoped for.
½ December 5, 2014
This film is like a drum beat played by a drummer with a monkey on his back.
½ September 17, 2014
Said by many to be the greatest performance of Frank Sinatra's career, The Man with the Golden Arm sounded like a great chance to see the actor in top form.

The Man with the Golden Arm is notable for being one of the first films to deal with the drug heroin as a serious topic with a legitimate approach to the material. As today's cinema has drugs and prostitution being exposed to people at seriously early ages, the effect of the film is likely to be very different to films of today's age, so it is surely a dated film. Also, the pace of the film is very slow for a film which runs at its extensive length, so it is unlikely to leave a massive impact on viewers anymore. But this does not necessarily mean that the film is bad. It just means that it is a dated one.
The depiction of the world of crime is a gritty one. It might not be as raw as you might hope, but considering the standard for movies back in the day it certainly had more edge than the average. Using an intense atmosphere as part of the driving force which is enhanced by the subtle but effective musical score of the film. While its visual cosntraints are limited, in terms of storytelling The Man with the Golden Arm is able to make a compelling case. It is strong because the script takes an insightful look into the harsh reality of being a heroin junkie. It combines the focus of this into the story about how protagonist Frankie "Dealer" Machine is actively fighting the addiction. While its focus on narrative is a lot lesser in quality than how it depicts him facing his addiction, The Man with the Golden Arm still remains an intense and well-crafted film with intense atmosphere and a strong script. It's a film not too much about narrative but more so about characters. And in that sense it certainly succeeds under direction from Otto Preminger who is able to harness the material in the script very well as well as giving the film as stylish touch. Otto Preminger incorporates all the traditional elements of a classical film style into The Man with the Golden Arm by giving the film a nice art design and capturing it along with the convincing scenery of the film through use of strong cinematography. Otto Preminger works to ensure that everything in The Man with the Golden Arm looks good, and it succeeds which means that the film is a fair treat on the eyes as well as on the ears. He handles the material very well all while maintaining the strength of Walter Newman and Lewis Meltzer's screenplay and giving it the appropriate edge. Otto Preminger's firm direction of the film allows it to develop on its own but ensures that it is consistently being steered in the right direction, and he manages to ensure that the atmosphere is effective and that each scene is dramatized appropriately without him having to force it at all. Admittedly, there are a lot of archetypes in the film and stereotypical story elements, but as a whole they are acceptable in terms of how they contribute to characterising protagonist Frankie "Dealer" Machine.
But anyone can tell you that it is what the cast delivers to The Man with the Golden Arm which determines precisely how good it is as a whole.
Frank Sinatra's leading performance is what makes The Man with the Golden Arm engaging. While the narrative is not always interesting, Frank Sinatra keeps it tied together at heart because his role as Frankie "Dealer" Machine demands that he be spot on in terms of both emotional tension and physical dedication. Without trouble, he gets the part right in both areas which has him making a compelling lead effort that leaves audiences easily sympathising for him. Frank Sinatra faces the job of carrying the entire film because it all really centres around his performance as a recovering heroin addict, and considering the overall quality of his performance it is thoroughly impressive in just how much it can do. He is thoroughly involved with the rough edged material and is not afraid to tell the truth in his performance, and so the kind of suffering he projects in the mindset of Frankie "Dealer" Machine is really grasping. Frank Sinatra takes on the leading role in The Man with the Golden Arm with dramatic passion and tenacity which really does turn it into one of his best performances to date. It is certainly one of his most challenging roles, and yet he takes it on so easily that it is difficult not to admire, so it is a definite fact that Frank Sinatra's leading performance in The Man with the Golden Arm is the finest asset of the film.
Eleanor Parker is also great. In one of her more notable performances, she shares a passionate chemistry with Frank Sinatra which makes the film more compelling due to the connection they share. Her charm is all there, and her dramatic passion is really firm since she deals with the material in a sophisticated and dedicated fashion. Her supporting role is pivotal, and she works really hard to justify her casting by really giving it her all. Eleanor Parker proves what her best dramatic talents are all about in The Man with the Golden Arm by creating a sympathetic and strong supporting character which makes the effect of the film all the more stronger.
Kim Novak also does a nice job in one of her much earlier screen appearances. She engages with Frank Sinatra very well and holds her own very well by proving early on in her career just what she is all about as an actress.

So despite being a dated film with a slow pace and a focus more on characters than on narrative, The Man with the Golden Arm is a gritty and powerful depiction of heroin addiction anchored by an exceptional leading performance from Frank Sinatra in one of the finest of his career.
July 18, 2014
Tense drama but not quite dark enough to make it noir.Sinatra made a good job of a difficult part.
May 30, 2014
Nothing too exciting happened during this film but as always, it's a pleasure to watch Frank!
½ May 16, 2014
A slow burn of a film. In an era of censorship, it pushed many boundaries, shedding light on the stark realities of drug addiction and jazz in the 50's. See it for Sinatra and the gritty, dark jazz soundtrack.
½ February 26, 2014
Blonde goddess, Kim Novak, saves mortal from two hells, one which he lives in and one that lives inside him. Great build up to surprising ending.
½ February 15, 2014
An interesting little tale about Heroin starring Frank Sinatra. It's nothing if not accurate. This movie does a surprisingly good job of telling a pretty true to life story about the H. Sinatra does a great job as a junky.
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