Frank Sinatra received his second and final Oscar nomination for portraying Frankie Machine in The Man With the Golden Arm.
Frank Sinatra plays here a heroin addict who has kicked the habit and wants to become a drummer, but finds that getting away from the drugs is harder than he would have expected. Apparently Sinatra commented that this performance would have been more deserving of an Oscar than his one in From Here to Eternity. I will agree that this performance is better than that one but that this one would not have been deserving either. Sinatra here begins the film as Frankie as he tries to make something of himself. Sinatra is okay at best in these standard scenes, of the guy who hangs out in the wrong places. The problem with these early scenes is that his performance just merely is not that interested. It is not that bad it just is a bit boring at times, he really does not make his character into anything special.
Later though Frankie finds he will have bigger problems when he falls back into his heroine habit. Sinatra is okay showing his depression as he goes back into the habit but he never is that good. He has some big scenes involving him going cold turkey to get off the drugs. These scenes would be challenging for any actor and Sinatra really does not succeed but he does not fail completely. I am glad that he does not overact these scenes at all, he tries to just portray them realistically. But Sinatra does come off as a bit false, I can see he is clearly trying hard to play the scene realistically, he does not overdo it, but he never comes off as a man really going cold turkey.
Sinatra really never has a great scene in this film, his best scene is his last scene with Eleanor Parker. He still is not amazing but again he does a fine job showing how the character has grown from his experiences. Overall though his performance is sometimes a bit dull, and only okay at best. He tries his best with the difficult scenes but never fully succeeds with them. I want to say that I do not hate Sinatra as an actor completely. I think he was very good in Von Ryan's Express and great in The Manchurian Candidate. I think he tries hard here he just does not succeed. I really wish he had been great and I was hoping this performance was going to be like his in The Manchurian Candidate but unfortunately it just is not.