The Man With the Golden Arm
The Man With the Golden Arm (1955)

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… More

Directed By:
Rated: Unrated
Running Time:
Genre: Drama
Release Date: December 15, 1955
DVD Release Date: May 16, 2000
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Critic Score: 86% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews
Delmore Schwartz
The New Republic

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.

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Time Out

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.

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Christopher Lloyd
Sarasota Herald-Tribune

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.

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Variety Staff

A gripping, fascinating film, expertly produced and directed and performed with marked conviction by Frank Sinatra as the drug slave.

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Bosley Crowther
New York Times

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.

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Emanuel Levy

As one Hollywood's first movies about drug addiction, Otto Preminger's drama starring Frank Sinatra, may be more significant historically than artistically.

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Dave Kehr
Chicago Reader

Frank Sinatra, as the drug-addicted poker dealer, plays a reasonably naturalistic character, but he's surrounded by a collection of bizarre archetypes.

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Lewis Porteous
The Skinny

An unflinchingly humane work of enormous importance.

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Josh Larsen

Director Otto Preminger emphasizes the lurid whenever he can ... so that the movie plays like a blurry, bleary night-on-its-way-to-morning.

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More reviews for The Man With the Golden Arm

Flixster Audience Score: 83% Flixster User Reviews
Stella Dallas
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… More
jay nixon
Overwrought 50's drama with some good acting and some that is over the top, once shocking subject matter has lost some of its punch.
Cindy I
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… More
xGary Xx
Once again Otto Preminger prodded at the boundaries of cinema in this dramatization of drug addiction starring Frank Sinatra as an "ex" junkie trying… More
Chris Weber
This is basically an overwrought melodramatic depiction of hard drug abuse (one of the first in cinema, I believe). It's a little tame by today's… More
Antony Stubbs
Otto Preminger, ever the boundary-pusher, turns his hand towards the perils of drug addiction in this ace tale of urban squalor and degradation. Frank Sinatra… More