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Some Came Running

July 16, 2013

Didn’t anyone ever tell you whiskey’s a man’s drink? Why don’t you run home to mama.

That’s how Frank Sinatra blows off an underage would-be cool dude who wants him to get a pint for him. One of my favorite lines from Some Came Running, which has a lot of good lines, and a lot of whiskey. Sinatra’s character, just discharged from the army, shows up in his Indiana hometown after an absence of sixteen years. He is a writer, with two books published, but claims to have given all that up. His brother and sister-in-law. clinging to their country club respectability, are not happy to see the prodigal return. A dumb floozy (Shirley MacLaine) has followed him from Chicago. An alcoholic gambler who never removes his hat (Dean Martin) befriends him. An uptight schoolteacher who admires his work catches his eye.

Released in 1958, directed by the great Vincente Minelli, Some Came Running is a gorgeous widescreen color melodrama that perfectly represents its era, or at least convinces you that it does. And not in a way that makes it seem dated, but that keeps it vital. It’s all bold strokes and vivid colors. It’s a man’s drink. But a sensitive man’s. Or a woman’s. It’s Frank Sinatra, the sensitive artist in uniform drinking whiskey. It’s Dean Martin (later to be transposed by Godard via diagetic homage into Contempt) drinking even more whiskey, being more charming but less sensitive. It is the heart of America and the heart that rebels against the heart of America. An America where Terre Haute is a place you go to party. It is CinemaScope and Metrocolor (which is not quite the same as Technicolor but can safely be lumped in with it). It is the Fifties.

Not enough people know about this picture. Maybe you should see it, on a screen as big, bold, and brilliant as you can find.

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