Named for his card-dealing prowess, Frankie Machine (Sinatra) is a rehabilitated junkie who wants to start a new life as a jazz drummer. However, his crippled, neurotic wife (Parker) and old pusher (McGavin) undermine his dreams and ambitions at every turn. Only neighborhood girl Molly (Novak) and misfit pal Sparrow (Arnold Stang) want Frankie to win his uphill battle.
Golden-throated crooner-turned-actor Sinatra shifted into bleak, non-singing territory in Otto Preminger's visceral "The Man With the Golden Arm," a groundbreaking portrayal of drug addiction based on the novel by Nelson Algren. Though Preminger's treatment of the drug theme now feels dated, Sinatra turns in an astounding performance as a jittery hard-luck case, earning him an Oscar nod for Best Actor. McGavin also has a field day playing Frankie's pusher. On top of everything, Elmer Bernstein's crime-jazz score adds a perfectly seedy tone.