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Frank Sinatra
Shirley MacLaine
Dean Martin
Martha Hyer
Arthur Kennedy
Nancy Gates
Leora Dana
Betty Lou Keim
Larry Gates
Steve Peck
Connie Gilchrist

Vincente Minnelli



About Sinatra

About Martin

Time: 137 mins.
Rating: PG
Genre: Drama/Romance

Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Kennedy), Best Actress (MacLaine), Best Supporting Actress, Best Costume Design and Best Original Song.

SYNOPSIS: Dave Hirsch, a writer and army veteran, returns to 1948 Parkman, Indiana, his hometown. His prosperous brother introduces him to Gwen French, a local teacher. But the more flamboyant Ginny has followed him to Parkton, where he also meets gambler Bama Dillert. Dave must come to terms with his roots and with his future.

BOTTOM LINE: A top-notch cast does little to alleviate the lurid nature and over-the-top tone of this tale of the seedy underbelly of a small-town. Sinatra plays Dave Hirsch, an aimless man who returns home because he has no where else to go. His presence in town brings nothing but stress and strife to his well-respected older brother, a man who seemingly has the perfect life and doesn't want to have his peace and prosperity ruined by his drunk and unemployed younger brother. Dave made a bit of a name for himself by writing two novels, but has been blocked for years, perhaps because of his constant drinking. On his way home, he made a "friend" in dim-witted party girl Ginny, who finds it hard to accept Dave's disinterest in her affections. He's the nicest guy she's ever met. Following her is a seriously jealous ex-"boyfriend" who's none to happy to be sharing her company. Dave's not really interested in forming a lasting relationship with Ginny, but he hates to see her man-handled and likes a girl who can hold her liquor.

Life gets even more complicated when Dave meets Gwen, a local school teacher, who's turned on by his talent, yet turned off by his personality. One can hardly blame her. His behavior towards her is at the least handsy and at worst forceful. If someone treated me like that I'd call the cops. His overt interest in her "assets" was more than a little creepy, considering he's supposed to be the "good" guy. Instead of giving her the chance to get to know him, he pursues her relentlessly with little regard for her reputation or feelings. That he asks her to marry him after their third meeting and then gets upset when she refuses is absolutely ludicrous. While Dave is certainly the most interesting man in town, he's not really a class act and Gwen's not the type of woman who's up for a fling. One can understand why he's attempting to trade up, just not with a cold, arrogant fish like her. In the end, he settles for Ginny because he realizes that no one has ever loved him as unconditionally as she does, despite her being as dumb as a post. Loyalty has to count for something, right? Of course, this only causes her stalker to lose all control, leading to a tragically violent end for our "happy" couple.

"You're right, teacher. You're a hundred percent right. I've been a bad boy. I've been naughty. Matter of fact, I don't even belong in your class."

There are a number of subplots that deal with the disintegration of Dave's brother's family, but what happens to them is not very interesting and more than a bit cliched. The only sequence worth any merit is the one where Dave finds his young niece in the same nightclub as him drinking with an older man who does not have her best interests at heart. Unwilling to watch her go down that very ugly road he rescues her despite her avid protestations. At least where family is concerned, he seems to have a heart after all. It's all very raw, seedy and melodramatic, which really got on my nerves. Mostly because Sinatra seems to be sleepwalking through his performance. Dean Martin puts in a delightfully charming turn as Dave's new best friend Bama Dillert, a professional gambler. This was their first film together and they clearly had such a good time, they became best friends off-screen as well. Bama is the only character that seems to have Dave's best interests at heart, even if he is drunk 100% of the time. MacLaine is brilliant in her first major screen role, making Ginny more than just a dumb, desperate fool. Her love for Dave gives the film poignancy and spark. Despite her past actions, she's just a simple girl looking for a man to truly love her and she makes you feel her pain. How Hyer got a nomination is beyond me. I found her to be shrill and irritating. She may be more sophisticated and smarter than Ginny, but who wants to spend their life with such a cold, bitter fish. The plot's seedy nature is belied by the film's vibrant, techicolor look, which adds class to the production, but also creates an odd tone. Personally, I think it would have played better in black and white. While the film held my attention, I can't quite say I enjoyed the experience. Minnelli was clearly trying to tap into his dark side, unfortuantely he was unwilling or unable to really let it loose.

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