The Man with the Golden Arm
The Nelson Algren novel on which this is based asks readers to relate to a philandering junkie card dealer whose ultimate ambition is to be a jazz drummer. The character of Frankie Machine was sanitised somewhat for 50s cinema audiences, but he remained no less of an outsider and it's a miracle this film was made at all. It counts itself among a slew of controversial masterpieces directed by Otto Preminger over the course of the decade and its release without certification from the Motion Picture Association of America brought about significant changes in Hollywood film censorship.
Like Billy Wilder's The Lost Weekend, it's an unflinchingly humane work of enormous importance. When we meet Frankie he's fresh out of jail, clean and in possession of a new set of drums. It's predictable that strain and temptation will embroil him as he returns to his old life, but Frank Sinatra's sweaty-browed disintegration makes for truly compelling viewing. [Lewis Porteous]