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Friday, 31 August 2012

The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) - Spotlight on... On the Edge!

'The Man with the Golden Arm' is a 1955 drama film directed by Otto Preminger and starring Frank Sinatra, Eleanor Parker, Kim Novak, Arnold Stang and Darren McGavin.

Based on the novel of the same name by Nelson Algren, the film tells of a heroin addict who becomes clean in prison, but then struggles with temptation after his release.

Former heroin addict Frankie Machine (played by Sinatra) is released from prison (where he has become clean) with a drum kit and a new lease on life. He returns to his wheelchair bound wife Zosh (played by Parker), and also runs into a former flame, Molly (played by Novak). Whilst out of jail, Frankie struggles to keep away from drugs, but later finds himself forced to deal in order to repay a debt.

Watch the trailer:

The title sequence

The film's controversial title sequence, designed by Saul Bass features the an animated paper cut out of a heroin addict's arms. The purpose of the cut out was to tap into the viewers emotions, and get them ready for the mood of the film.  Bass would later use a similar technique for Alfred Hitchcock films, 'Psycho' (1960), 'North by Northwest' (1959) and 'Vertigo' (1958).

Watch the title sequence:

Did you know...

  • The Motion Picture Association of America refused to certify the film because it was about a heroin addict - the film was released without the seal of approval
  • Marlon Brando was also considered for the role of Frankie Machine
  • In preparation for the film, Frank Sinatra spent time at drug rehabilitation centres to observe heroin addicts
  • According to Frank Sinatra Jr., the receiving hands of the second drug dealing belong to funny man Milton Berle

Award nominations

  • Academy Award nomination for Best Actor (Frank Sinatra)
  • Academy Award nomination for Best Art Direction/Set Decoration - Black & White
  • Academy Award nomination for Best Music Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture
  • BAFTA Award nomination for Best Film from any Source
  • BAFTA Award nomination for Best Foreign Actor (Frank Sinatra)
  • Satellite Award nomination for Outstanding Classic DVD (50th Anniversary Edition)

Closing remarks

'The Man with the Golden Gun' features one of Frank Sinatra's best dramatic roles. Otto Preminger broke ground by focusing on a taboo theme, such as heroin addiction, and persisting to release the film, even after it was refused classification. It helped shape censorship laws as a year later, films were permitted to depict drug use, kidnapping, prostitution and abortion.

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