For my second and final post on Frank Sinatra (my June 2022 Star Of The Month), I’m going with his other 1958 film. That, of course, would be Some Came Running, which also stars Dean Martin and Shirley MacLaine!
Coming Up Shorts! with… The Woody Woodpecker Polka (1951)
(available on Blu-ray as part of The Woody Woodpecker Screwball Collection from Universal Studios)
(Length: 6 minutes, 43 seconds)
Woody Woodpecker wants to get in to the barn dance for the free food, but Wally Walrus, the ticket taker, won’t let him in without paying. So, Woody decides to dress up as a lady to get in free! This one was interesting, but, at the same time, very similar to the earlier Chew-Chew Baby, with Woody dressing up as a girl to get some easy food. The main difference here is the song “The Woody Woodpecker Polka,” sung by the Starlighters during the opening credits and through part of the short itself. There are a few laughs to be had, but, at the same time, I’ve certainly seen better from Woody before this.
And Now For The Main Feature…
Recently discharged from the army, former writer David Hirsh (Frank Sinatra) finds himself on a bus to his hometown of Parkman, Indiana after a night of drinking. He discovers that he has been accompanied by Ginnie Moorehead (Shirley MacLaine), whom he had invited along in his drunken state. Still confused by everything, he gives her money to go back to Chicago and then goes off to check into a hotel. Even though he hasn’t been in Parkman for sixteen years, word gets around town that he is back, with his older brother, Frank Hirsh (Arthur Kennedy), being one of the last to find out. Frank goes to see David and tries to invite him to dinner with his family. Initially resistant to the idea, David finally agrees to join them later. In the meantime, he goes to Smitty’s Bar and Grill, where he meets gambler Bama Dillert (Dean Martin), who invites David to join him and some buddies in the back room later that evening for a game of poker. When David joins Frank at his home, they discover that Frank’s wife, Agnes (Leora Dana), has invited Professor Robert Haven French (Larry Gates) and his daughter, Gwen (Martha Hyer) to join them for dinner. David is smitten with Gwen, but she is only interested in critiquing his writing and spurns his advances. After David and Gwen part, he joins Bama for that game of poker. He finds that Ginnie has stayed in town, but has been followed there by her abusive ex, Raymond Lanchak (Steven Peck), who picks a fight with David (and loses, especially when the police get involved). The next day, Frank gets on David’s case about the fight and what it means for Frank’s reputation in town, while also admitting to paying for David’s bail. David later goes to the home of the Frenches, where he shares his unfinished story with Gwen. She likes it, and recommends that he submit it for publication. He tries to flirt with her again, but she turns him down. After several further failed attempts at romancing her, David decides to go on the road with Bama to various other cities for gambling purposes, along with Ginnie and Bama’s girlfriend. At a bar in Terre Haute, David discovers his niece, Dawn (Betty Lou Keim), who is out on a drunken binge in order to get back at her father (whom she had secretly caught making out with his secretary). David helps her get a bus ticket to go back home, advising her to avoid making any major life changes until he gets back. Throughout the trip, David unsuccessfully attempts to call Gwen, until she hears good news from the publisher about his story, and finally starts to soften up towards him. However, that is short-lived, when Ginnie comes to visit her secretly, and reveals that she had been on the trip with Dave and Bama (which causes Gwen to decide not to see David any more). Meanwhile, Bama had gotten into trouble on the trip when a sore loser gambler picked a fight with him. Although the resulting injury wasn’t serious, Bama learns from a doctor that his lifestyle needs to change because he has diabetes, which leaves David worried about his friend. With Gwen refusing to see him or go out with him, David starts to consider Ginnie, who has been there for him all along, and reluctantly decides to marry her. With this decision increasing the divide between him and Bama, not to mention all the other troubles with David’s family, will everything end in tragedy, or will they be able to come together?
With James Jones’ debut novel From Here To Eternity proving to be a best-seller with his readers and an equally big hit when adapted to the big screen, he of course wanted to keep writing. For his follow-up, he wrote Some Came Running, which was published in 1957. After seeing the success that Columbia Pictures had with the earlier film, MGM bought the film rights to Some Came Running close to a year before it was even published. When it was published (at a length of 1266 pages), it wasn’t received as well by the critics, but MGM stuck to their guns. Producer Sol C. Siegel at first pondered Glenn Ford for the starring role, but decided to go with Frank Sinatra instead (since the earlier film had been such a big hit for him in particular). Frank, in turn, brought in Dean Martin to play Bama, and suggested Shirley MacLaine for the role of Ginnie. Vincente Minelli was brought in to direct the film, and it took a lot of work to get the overly long story condensed into a shorter, more cinematic form. A lot of filming took place in Madison, Indiana at first, before returning to the soundstages to finish up the film. Upon release, it was received well critically (with several Oscar nominations, particularly Shirley MacLaine for Best Actress), and audiences took to it as well (although not enough to offset the high costs of filming it).
Honestly, it was mostly a coincidence that I ended up going with both of Frank’s 1958 movies for this month (owing as much to the idea that they were the only two films of his that I have on physical media and hadn’t reviewed yet). This was my first time seeing Some Came Running, and I have to admit that I liked it! It’s only their first film together, but Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin both work together quite well! It’s definitely more dramatic than any of their later pairings that I’ve seen, but they both show that they can handle it quite easily! Now, it really should be said that very few characters in this film are that likable, and this applies especially for the men. Frank’s David is very aggressive towards Martha Hyer’s Gwen in that he constantly ignores her rejections and her pleas to let her be. Dean’s Bama is definitely very sexist, and neither of them treats Shirley MacLaine’s Ginnie very kindly for most of the film. Honestly, Gwen and Ginnie are the only two characters for whom I really feel any sympathy. Still, I think everybody did quite well here with their performances. I will admit that I prefer some of the later, more comedic pairings for Frank and Dean, but this film is still good enough that I would recommend it highly!
What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… Some Came Running (1958)
This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection utilizing a transfer from a 4K scan of the original camera negative. Put simply, it’s a typical Warner Archive Blu-ray, with good color, great detail and an image cleaned up of all scratches, dirt and debris. In short, the best way to enjoy this wonderful movie!
Film Length: 2 hours, 16 minutes
My Rating: 9/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
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