Monday, May 05, 2008

second to none: Minnelli's "Some Came Running"

Say what?

The New York Times' Charles Taylor and Stephanie Zacharek collaborated on an entertaining DVD preview, "For Air-Conditioned Living Rooms," in Sunday's special Summer Movie Preview section and, while everyone's opinions on film are more or less valid, I feel compelled to challenge something that Taylor wrote.

Taylor covers Warner Home Entertainment's new, five-disc "Frank Sinatra: The Golden Years" (one of four boxed collections devoted to Sinatra that Warner is releasing this season) and declares: "'The Tender Trap' and 'The Man With the Golden Arm' are the most interesting films in the collection." I like both films, especially compared to two other titles in the set, "None But the Brave" and "Marriage on the Rocks."

However, the fifth title in the collection is Vincente Minnelli's sublime "Some Came Running," a version of the James Jones novel that is full of Minnelli's lyrical touches and observational wit and ensemble playing that remains unmatched.

Sinatra, arguably the '50s' reigning acting auteur of male alienation, is in his prime here, playing a fascinating anti-hero battling the rigors of self-recrimination. And he's ably backed by Dean Martin, Shirley MacLaine, Martha Hyer, Arthur Kennedy, Nancy Gates, Leora Dana, Connie Gilchrist, Larry Gates, Steven Peck, Betty Lou Keim, John Brennan and the singular Carmen Philips. Not a single bad performance among them.

"Some Came Running," a fully-realized work, is clearly the crown jewel in this set.


Note in Passing: "Some Came Running" will be aired by Turner on Thursday, May 22 at 4:45 a.m. (est) as part of its on-going Sinatra salute this month.

(Artwork: Sinatra and co-star Shirley MacLaine in a typical vintage studio publicity shot for Minnelli's "Some Came Running")


jbryant said...

Totally agree with you. It's not even close (though I don't think I've seen "Marriage on the Rocks" in its entirety). "Some Came Running" is one of my all-time favorite movies. I never get tired of it. Minnelli was a genius with color and widescreen, and the performances are all top-notch (I think Arthur Kennedy should've beaten Burl Ives that year - nothing against Burl).

I'm ordering the stand-alone DVD of "Some" later this week.

Campaspe said...

Sinatra made a lot of movies, but I stoutly maintain he was interesting in only a handful. Some Came Running is definitely one of those.

joe baltake said...

To Campaspe- I think Sinatra really hit his stride as an actor in the late 1950 and '60s - goingly breathlessly from comedy ("Come Blow Your Horn") to drama ("The Manchurian Candidate") to musical ("Pal Joey"). He's been seriously underrated as an actor.

jbryant said...

Considering Sinatra's well-chronicled disdain for multiple takes, it's probably a miracle that he gave so many good performances - or just a testament to his natural ability, of course.