Friday, July 24, 2015
Sinatra gives an astonishing performance as Frankie Machine, a heroin-addicted drummer released from prison who returns to his neighborhood on Chicago’s North Side and resolves to pick up the pieces of his life. Friends in low places and a toxic relationship with his wheelchair-bound wife (Eleanor Parker) threaten his newfound sobriety. Featuring withdrawal scenes that perhaps represent the apex of Sinatra’s acting career (earning him a richly deserved Oscar nomination), the film was a feather in the caps of director Otto Preminger (who flouted Hollywood’s Production Code in tackling the forbidden subject of drug addiction), composer Elmer Bernstein (whose jazz score supplies much of the film’s tension), and legendary titles designer Saul Bass. Restored 35mm print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive.