The Man with the Golden Arm
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The Man with the Golden Arm
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… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"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
"There are some great scenes, though, notably Sinatra's audition for a make-or-break drumming job, and the later scene where he suffers cold turkey in Novak's apartment."
‑ , Time Out
"As one Hollywood's first movies about drug addiction, Otto Preminger's drama starring Frank Sinatra, may be more significant historically than artistically."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"Sinatra, by contrast, is superb, especially in a harrowing withdrawal scene. It's his movie...all the way."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"A brave and well-constructed piece of old-time movie-making, and the thing more than holds up today."
‑ Scott Weinberg,
"A gripping, fascinating film, expertly produced and directed and performed with marked conviction by Frank Sinatra as the drug slave."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"In short, for all the delicacy of the subject and for all the pathological shivers in a couple of scenes, there is nothing very surprising or exciting about The Man With the Golden Arm."
‑ Bosley Crowther, New York Times
"Director Otto Preminger emphasizes the lurid whenever he can ... so that the movie plays like a blurry, bleary night-on-its-way-to-morning."
‑ Josh Larsen, LarsenOnFilm
"More Damon Runyan than Irvine Welsh, but as entertaining as it is important."
‑ Kim Newman, Empire Magazine
"A terrific exposition of the perils of drug addiction"
‑ Tony Medley, Tolucan Times
"Frank Sinatra, as the drug-addicted poker dealer, plays a reasonably naturalistic character, but he's surrounded by a collection of bizarre archetypes."
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"The film's reputation hasn't endured like some other mid-century depictions of addiction, like The Lost Weekend. But it's a terrific look at descent and despair, the sort of movie that can end on a sour note but still seem hopeful."
‑ Christopher Lloyd, Sarasota Herald-Tribune
"It's a film that had a monkey on its back."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"Some of the scenes of cold turkey are still very effective, and Sinatra's performance is flawless."
‑ , Film4
"Proves that drug stories aren't exclusively the territory of hip, nihilistic '90s film-school wunderkinder."
‑ Phil Freeman,
More reviews for The Man with the Golden Arm on Rotten Tomatoes