In the late 1940s, Frankie Majcinek, who is known as Frankie Machine, returns to Chicago’s South Side, which is mostly inhabited by Polish Americans, after serving a six-month sentence at a federal narcotics hospital. The denizens of Antek’s Tug ‘n’ Maul Tavern, Frankie’s favorite bar, are pleased to see Frankie, especially his best friend, “lost dog finder” Sparrow. Although Frankie’s former drug supplier, Nifty Louie Fomorowski, offers Frankie a free “fix,” Frankie refuses and vows to Sparrow that he has kicked narcotics for good and intends to become a drummer for a big-name band. Frankie proudly shows off the drums he was given at the hospital, and after sending Sparrow to find him some new clothes, goes to the roominghouse where he lives with his wheelchair-bound wife Zosh. The neurotic Zosh, determined to keep Frankie with her by whatever means necessary, has manipulated him for three years by playing on his guilt over causing the accident that injured her while he was driving drunk.
Zosh is dubious about his plans to become a musician and urges him to return to dealing poker for Zero Schwiefka. Frankie’s consistent method of dealing has earned him a city-wide reputation as “the man with the golden arm,” but Frankie is determined to improve his life so that he is not tempted to return to drugs. Frankie calls Harry Lane, a musical agent referred to him by his doctor at the narcotics hospital, and makes an appointment to see him. After Sparrow returns with a “borrowed” suit for Frankie to wear, they stop at Antek’s for a drink and there run into Schwiefka. Frankie announces his intention to quit dealing, and the angry Schwiefka notifies “Cousin” Kvorka, a local beat policeman, that Frankie and Sparrow shoplifted a suit. Kvorka takes the pair to police captain “Record Head” Bednar, who wearily ignores Frankie’s protests that he has a job interview and insists that he be locked up. Schwiefka then offers to bail out Frankie and Sparrow if Frankie returns to deal for him, and Frankie is forced to accept. Disturbed by a jailed junkie’s tormented plea for a fix, Frankie returns home, where Zosh is pleased that he is going back to dealing cards. That night, Louie’s taunts about Frankie’s shaking hand unnerve the dealer and he leaves to visit the Safari Club, a nearby strip bar where Frankie’s former sweetheart, Molly Novotny, works as a b-girl. Although Molly and Frankie are still in love, Frankie’s guilt over causing Zosh’s paralysis have kept them apart. –AFI
Otto Ludwig Preminger (December 5, 1905 – April 23, 1986) was an Austrian-born Jewish American film director who moved from the theatre to Hollywood, directing over 35 feature films in a five-decade career. He rose to prominence for stylish film noir mysteries such as Laura (1944) and Fallen Angel (1945). In the 1950s and 1960s, he directed a number of high-profile adaptations of popular novels and stage works. Several of these pushed the boundaries of censorship by dealing with topics which were then taboo in Hollywood, such as drug addiction (The Man with the Golden Arm, 1955), rape (Anatomy of a Murder, 1959), and homosexuality (Advise and Consent, 1962). He was twice nominated for the Best Director Academy Award. He also had a few acting roles.
Preminger was born in Wiznitz, a town west of Czernowitz, Northern Bukovyna, in today’s Ukraine, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, to Markus and Josefa Preminger. Preminger’s father was born in 1877 in Galicia, at a time when… read more
Kim Novak looks like Rutger Hauer in drag when she tosses Sinatra's wraith-like, heroin-fiending self around the hotel room. The only thing that I've taken away from this movie is that horn sections were once used with alarming regularity to highlight action in 1950s cinema. *Toot!*
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 ending was changed to be somewhat moralistic but hipster cool, the driving jazz score, plus sinatra's knock out performance make up for that imo. even novak is great and she's never really impressed me
Reconsidering two icons of mid-20th-century American cinema.