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Boozy writer Frank Sinatra is caught between the classic '50s bad girl/good girl duo — brassy redhead Shirley MacLaine and uptight blonde goddess Martha Hyer — in Vincente Minnelli's super-stylized CinemaScope melodrama.
Richard Linklater recently selected Some Came Running as the film that changed his life, claiming "It's like Citizen Kane: every time you see it it's a different movie." Linklater considers Frank Sinatra's depiction of an alcoholic aspiring writer and war veteran who returns to his Midwest hometown "perhaps his best performance ever," and Sinatra is matched by his Rat Pack chum Dean Martin as a hard-drinking gambler who wears his cowboy hat in the bath (a detail lifted by Godard in Contempt). Vincente Minnelli's adaptation of the James Jones doorstopper was nominated for five Academy Awards®, including two for the actresses who embody a classic fifties bad girl/good girl duo: brassy, vulnerable Shirley MacLaine as a good-natured floozy fixated on Frank, and brittle schoolteacher Martha Hyer, whose blondeness signals her uptight purity. The film's ornate visual style must be savoured on the big screen: "Minnelli has said that he based his visual style on the inside of a jukebox, and the film is a sort of neon epiphany. The final sequence, set at a carnival, remains an object lesson in the expressive use of CinemaScope" (Dave Kehr).