Run time: 119 mins
In Theaters: Monday 16th January 1956
Distributed by: United Artists
Production compaines: Carlyle Production
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Fresh: 17 Rotten: 3
IMDB: 7.5 / 10
Director: Otto Preminger
Producer: Otto Preminger
Things don't turn out too well for Frankie Machine (Sinatra), as the sauce is constantly calling (and causing his drummin' arms to jitter), he has to resort to cheating at card games, and then there's his wife (Eleanor Parker), who's bound to a wheelchair, not to mention her many neuroses.
Viewers watching Golden Arm today will probably find its treatment of drug addiction quaint and small -- to try to get clean, he has a friend (Kim Novak) lock him in a bedroom, in which his most shocking behavior is breaking a chair before attempting to crawl out the window (oh no!) -- compared to the horrorshows of films like Trainspotting and Requiem for a Dream.
Elmer Bernstein's all-jazz score is unique but quite intrusive, and in the end it can't salvage the plodding, 2-hour-long plot from developing slower than a Polaroid. As a film, Golden Arm is often fascinating when Sinatra's on top of his game. But the film works best as a historical time capsule sealing away the state of the art of the drug movie as it existed in the 1950s.
The two-disc DVD includes a critical commentary, interviews with Sinatra and Bernstein, and an excised alternate title song, recorded by Sinatra.