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Daily film recommendation: 'Some Came Running' (1958)

Poster for "Some Came Running"
MGM

Airing on TCM September 4 at 8 PM EST

Some Came Running” is a notable film for various reasons. MGM decided to turn the 1,200 page James Jones novel into a film after the huge success of the adaptation of his previous book, “From Here to Eternity”, which nabbed several Academy Awards. “Some Came Running” stars Frank Sinatra in probably his best performance. It features the first onscreen pairing on Sinatra and Dean Martin. Shirley MacLaine, who had at this point only starred in a few other movies, received her first Best Actress Oscar nomination for her role in this movie, and also began her famous association with the Rat Pack during filming.

But outside of providing us with some fun trivia, “Some Came Running” is a great film. The protagonist is Dave Hirsch (Sinatra), a writer and Army veteran who returns to his hometown of Parkman after many years. His brother Frank (Arthur Kennedy) is married and the owner of a jewelry company. His social standing in the community is threatened by the reappearance of Dave, who turns up from Chicago drunk and in the company of a woman he doesn’t even remember inviting to come with him, but who is desperate in love with him: Ginny Moorehead (Shirley MacLaine). Frank does try to make Dave respectable, and to some extent it works; he falls in love with schoolteacher Gwen (Martha Hyer), for instance. But the company of a gambler like Bama Dillert (Martin) is preferable to Dave, whose cynic attitude makes it hard for him to fit in.

The performances in this drama are great all around, even when they venture too far into melodrama (MacLaine, I’m looking at you). Sinatra embodies Dave’s complex character very nicely, as does Martin. They’re all compelling, and they all have their strengths and flaws. Director Vincente Minnelli uses the beautiful Technicolor scenery to the fullest, letting it enhance the mood of each scene. Sinatra and Martin supposedly didn’t enjoy being directed by Minnelli, complaining that he directed the scenery rather than the actors, but the end result is a rich film that deserves to be as memorable as the iconic “From Here to Eternity”.

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