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Kim Novak is the blonde angel of mercy to Frank Sinatra's jazz-drumming junkie in Otto Preminger's taboo-busting drug-addiction drama.
Frank Sinatra considered his Academy Award®–nominated performance as Frankie Machine in Otto Preminger's groundbreaking drug-addiction drama his personal favourite. Jazz and junk (of the mainlining kind) are the twin poles of Frankie's existence: looking for a fresh start as a big-band drummer after six months in rehab, Frankie finds the heroin habit taking on a new allure when he returns to his old haunts. Eleanor Parker is cringingly clinging as the crippled wife desperately determined to hold on to Frankie at any cost, while Kim Novak offers her cool blonde brand of devotion as a bar hostess who just happens to be an authentic angel of mercy. The film has been celebrated for many things, including Saul Bass' startling credit sequence and Elmer Bernstein's propulsive jazz score, but it is Sinatra's performance that carries all before it. "Everything Sinatra does here is electrically nuanced, as if Preminger had hot-wired the star's eyes, vocal cords, and facial muscles to the circuitry of Frank Machine's brain. . . . He never gave a better performance" (The New Yorker).
Restored by the Academy Film Archive with funding from the Film Foundation and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive.