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The Man With the Golden Arm

HD   NR Closed Captioning

Otto Preminger

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About the Movie

When Otto Preminger was willing to release his drug-addiction drama Man With the Golden Arm without the sanction of a Production Code seal, it proved to be yet another nail in the coffin of that censorial dinosaur. Based on the novel by Nelson Algren, the film stars Frank Sinatra as Frankie Machine, expert card dealer (hence the title). Recently released from prison, Frankie is determined to set his life in order — and that means divesting himself of his drug habit. He dreams of becoming a jazz drummer, but his greedy wife Eleanor Parker wants him to continue his lucrative gambling activities. Since Parker is confined to a wheelchair as a result of a car accident caused by Frankie, he's in no position to refuse. Only the audience knows that Parker is not crippled, but is faking her invalid status to keep Frankie under her thumb. Gambling boss Robert Strauss wants Frankie to deal at a high-stakes poker game; terrified that he's lost his touch, Frankie asks dope pusher Darren McGavin to supply him with narcotics. When McGavin discovers that Parker is not an invalid, she kills him, and Frankie (who is elsewhere at the time) is accused of the murder. He is willing to go to the cops, but he doesn't want to show up with drugs in his system. So with the help of sympathetic B-girl Kim Novak, Sinatra locks himself up and goes "cold turkey"-a still-harrowing sequence, despite the glut of "doper" films that followed in the wake of this picture. After Parker herself is killed in a suicidal fall, the path is cleared for Frankie to pursue a clean new life with Novak.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 21
  • Fresh: 18
  • Rotten: 3
  • Average Rating: 7.1/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: A gripping, fascinating film, expertly produced and directed and performed with marked conviction by Frank Sinatra as the drug slave. – Variety Staff, Variety, Jul 7, 2010

Fresh: The film is a pretty good picture show, as we used to say, but anyone who has read Nelson Algren's wonderfully poetic novel is likely to make invidious comparisons and be otherwise distracted. – Delmore Schwartz, The New Republic, Jan 23, 2013

Fresh: More Damon Runyan than Irvine Welsh, but as entertaining as it is important. – Kim Newman, Empire Magazine, Jun 24, 2010

Fresh: Some of the scenes of cold turkey are still very effective, and Sinatra's performance is flawless. – Film4, Jun 24, 2010

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

great movie....actors good but could be better

I thought the movie itself was amazing. The plot etc. But the actors?! Frank Sinatra is probably one of the greatest singer/entertainers of all time, but not so much an actor... but that just my opinon.

Best performance, and Frankie's favorite

I once read somewhere this was Sinatra's favorite role. I can see why. Of all his films, probably the best job he's ever done is the withdrawl scene in Kim Novak's apartment. Not to mention how well Preminger captured the seemier side of Clark Street in Chicago.

The best! So real, so fantastic, so vivid!

I watch this with my mom and I thought that it was soo well done! Frankie did the best of his abillitys! They said at the end of the movie, that Frankie went and looked at the beavior of junkies, and he copied that beavior very well! Kim novak was verry great in it too! She's a verry good actress, and a perfect acting partner that frank could have! I give this movie my complements and thanks for such a well done job!!