Extremely controversial in its time, The Man with the Golden Arm is also one of the first films to deal honestly and directly with drug addiction. Sinatra plays an addict recently released from rehab who returns to Chicago with big plans of becoming a jazz drummer. His disabled wife wants him to return to poker playing and the local drug dealer wants him for a customer. When he hits the night clubs, Sinatra falls for a professional bar hostess (played by a pre-Vertigo Kim Novak) while sliding further and further back into his addiction until he feels that something has to give.
Widely considered Sinatra’s greatest acting performance, the 1955 film noir hit was directed and written by Otto Preminger, based on a novel by the same name. Its gritty and realistic depiction of the tragedy of heroin addiction was rejected by the MPAA under its Production Code, but was released anyway to great fanfare, which led to a dissolution of the restrictive Code.
Watch it on TUTV this Sunday, August 5 at 1 and 9 p.m. as a part of our Film Noir Theater series.