Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Man With the Golden Arm (1955)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Title Sequence - a Jagged or Crooked Forearm

The Man With the Golden Arm (1955)

In director Otto Preminger's code-defying, ground-breaking, powerful drama about heroin addiction - the first major Hollywood film about the subject:

  • the revolutionary, artistic opening Saul Bass Title Credits sequence (animated) with a cut-out of a jagged, twisted and deconstructed forearm that moved (a symbol of heroin addiction)
  • the character role of Frankie Machine (Academy Award-nominated Frank Sinatra) (known for having "arms of pure gold") as both a jazz drummer and a professional poker dealer (with a knack for lucrative card-dealing) - he was also a rehabilitated prison-hospital ex-con returning to his slummy and squalid Chicago neighborhood
  • the assortment of characters surrounding Frankie's demise into using drugs again: oily and smarmy, dandified drug dealer Louie (Darren McGavin), Frankie's small-time hoodlum Schwiefka (Robert Strauss) and illicit card-game manager, and Frankie's mentally-challenged comic sidekick Sparrow (Arnold Stang)
  • the character of lying and deceiving Sophia "Zosch" Machine (an over-the-top performance from Eleanor Parker) - Frankie's dependent, neurotic and nagging wife - she was allegedly crippled and wheelchair bound after a car accident (when DUI Frankie was at the wheel)
  • the scene of Frankie succumbing to becoming hooked again, when Louie told him: "Monkey's never dead dealer. The monkey never dies. When you kick him off, he just hides in a corner waitin' his turn" - there were close-ups of Frankie's eyes - revealing that he had become high
  • the scene of the marathon, all-weekend poker game, culminating with strung-out Frankie pressured to resort to cheating - and was caught
  • Frankie's devastating breakdown during a Monday audition when he tried out to be a jazz drummer in a band
  • the sensational and painful sequence of Frankie going "cold turkey" ("Here we go, down and dirty") after strip-club/bar hostess mistress/friend Molly (Kim Novak) (with a heart of gold) sarcastically challenged him: ("Why should you hurt like other people hurt? Yes, so you had a dog's life with never a break. Why try to face it like most people do? No, just roll up all your pains into one big hurt, and then flatten it with a fix"); she promised to keep him locked in her apartment (after bundling up all sharp objects), to help him beat his habit (by keeping him from quivering, writhing, and feeling cold with blankets and the warmth of her own body)
Friendship with Molly (Kim Novak)
Frankie Going Cold-Turkey in Molly's Apartment
  • the final twists - (1) the revelation that Zosch was actually able to walk and only pretending to be an invalid, (2) the death of Louie when Zosch pushed him to his death down the stairwell (he had just discovered that she was a fraud, and she feared that he would ruin her life by divulging the truth that she was a phony), and (3) Zosch's incrimination of Frankie for the crime, but then Zosch's suicide by throwing herself off the balcony onto the brick street below after she had again shown she was stringing everyone along

Frankie Machine's (Frank Sinatra) Return to Neighborhood

Zosch's Welcome-Home for Frankie

Shooting-Up with Louie

Close-Up of Frankie's Eyes

Marathon Poker Game

Frankie's Breakdown During Drumming Audition

Zosch Pushing Louie To His Death Down Stairwell

Zosch's Suicide


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