MEET DANNY WILSON
1952, Universal, 86 min, Dir: Joseph Pevney

Frank Sinatra stars as a hot-tempered singer (imagine that!) who is kept afloat by his buddy-pianist (Alex Nicol) and a heart-of-gold chanteuse (Shelley Winters). Complications ensue when gangster Raymond Burr enters the picture with an eye for both Shelley and Sinatra’s salary. Produced after Frank’s bobby-soxer era fame faded and prior to his mega-stardom in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (1953), this noir-stained musical is one of “Ol’ Blue Eyes’” most overlooked and underappreciated movies. A NOIR CITY nod to Sinatra’s centenary.


GUYS AND DOLLS
1955, Park Circus/MGM, 150 min, USA, Dir: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Frank Loesser’s Broadway hit, inspired by Damon Runyon’s tales of Times Square hoods and gamblers, becomes one of the 1950s’ most enjoyable musicals in the hands of director Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Needing $1,000 to rent space for his floating crap game, Nathan Detroit (Frank Sinatra) bets Sky Masterson (Marlon Brando, in his only song-and-dance role) that he can find a girl immune to Masterson’s charms – specifically a strait-laced missionary (a wonderful Jean Simmons). “Luck Be a Lady” is just one of the great songs here.


THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM
1955, Preminger Films, 119 min, USA, Dir: Otto Preminger

Director Otto Preminger defied the Production Code for the second time with this first American film about drug addiction. Frank Sinatra, in the performance of his career, plays a junkie jazz drummer and card sharp torn between love for his girlfriend (Kim Novak), a sad-eyed cashier in a strip club, and loyalty to his crippled wife (Eleanor Parker). Darren McGavin (“The Night Stalker”) is the villainous heroin pusher. Shooting in the studio rather than on location, Preminger creates a richly atmospheric, lower-depths milieu. Elmer Bernstein’s moody, compelling jazz score and Saul Bass’ seductive opening titles are memorable.


Syndicate content