The Man With the Golden Arm | Chicago Reader

The Man With the Golden Arm

Otto Preminger's 1955 adaptation of Nelson Algren's novel is something of a crossroads movie, suspended between the swirling expressionism of Preminger's early career and the balanced realism that would later become his forte. Frank Sinatra, as the drug-addicted poker dealer, plays a reasonably naturalistic character, but he's surrounded by a collection of bizarre archetypes (Eleanor Parker as his demanding, crippled girlfriend; Kim Novak as an “entertainer” with a heart of gold) and trapped in one of the most audaciously unreal studio sets ever designed for a Hollywood film. The tension is intriguing and expressive (perhaps this is what Beineix had in mind for The Moon in the Gutter), though the unstable mixture is clearly limited as a sustainable style. With Darren McGavin and Arnold Stang. 119 min.

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