We gave it a B+
The normally ring-a-ding-ding Sinatra took his role as Frankie Machine — a junkie who returns from rehab to his grim Chicago hood with dreams of being a drummer — so seriously that he visited clinics and observed an addict going cold turkey (in a late-’80s clip he’s still shaken by the experience). The research paid off — his Oscar-nominated performance in The Man With the Golden Arm simmers with desperation and weariness. And though director Otto Preminger’s decision to use an RKO set instead of Chicago locations initially jars, he makes it work, amping up the claustrophobic tension in beautifully choreographed long takes. EXTRAS Highlights include an informed commentary from historian Ken Barnes and a meaty interview with composer Elmer Bernstein, whose Man score was the first full-fledged use of jazz in a Hollywood film. Best of all: Sinatra’s vocal of an inappropriately dreamy, not very good title tune that fortunately didn’t make the final cut.