Classic Film Guide

Some Came Running (1958) - full review!

Vincente Minnelli (Gigi (1958)) directed this John Patrick (The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946))-Arthur Sheekman adaptation of the James Jones novel about a blocked writer-serviceman who returns home after more than a dozen years to his small town of Parkman, Indiana, in 1948. Frank Sinatra plays this lead role of Dave Hirsch, who was actually "sent home" by his service buddies after he'd gotten drunk - he's surprised to learn that a sweet, dim-witted pushover named Ginnie Moorehead, played to perfection by Shirley MacLaine, came with him on the bus from Chicago. Arthur Kennedy plays Dave's older brother Frank, who's a well connected businessman in the community; Nancy Gates plays Edith, Frank's attractive young secretary in his jewelry store (Connie Gilchrist plays her mother).

Apparently, 12 year old Dave had been put in a boarding home by his older brother when Frank married the jewelry store's original owner's daughter Agnes (Leora Dana). After a few years, Dave left town to join the service, traveled, and later wrote two novels, one of which included an unflattering character that was modeled (not thinly veiled enough) after his sister-in-law. Dave apologizes to Ginnie, gives her $50 & sends her on her way, and then checks into a local motel. He sticks a small needle in his brother's ego by depositing a $5,500 check in the town's bank whose board Frank is not on, and then proceeds to begin the day's drinking, which later leads to his meeting a professional gambler, Bama Dillert (Dean Martin) in a local bar (Ned Wever plays Smitty, the bar's proprietor). Frank refuses to take the bait and instead, after apologizing for his past behavior (e.g. the boarding school) and accepting Dave's reimbursement check for it, he invites Dave home for dinner. Agnes, who originally said she wasn't going to be there, instead invited Professor French (Larry Gates) and his school teacher daughter, Gwen (Martha Hyer), to dine with them at their club. The Hirschs have a teenage daughter named Dawn (Betty Lou Keim), who's (obviously) also Dave's niece. The only other character I've yet to introduce, and he's an important one, is Raymond (Steven Peck), who wishes he was Ginnie's boyfriend; he's followed her from Chicago. As it turns out, Ginnie didn't leave town after all, which Dave soon discovers in Smitty's bar, where he and Raymond have their first of several increasingly violent encounters. One will also recognize Marion Ross (from TV's Happy Days), uncredited, as the spunky Sister in the hospital near the end of the film.

Dave, who refuses to consider himself a writer (because he's blocked?) and isn't interested in simpleton Ginnie, is drawn to the high school journalism teacher Gwen, who's a classic cold blonde with seemingly no interest in men even though her father has encouraged her relationship with Dave. Ginnie is hopelessly in love with Dave and, while he's drinking, he allows her to hang around with he and Bama, who have become drinking and gambling buddies. Meanwhile, Frank is frustrated by Agnes's headache, so he decides to go for a walk during which he finds Edith working overtime. One things leads to another and Frank is caught necking with Edith at the local parking spot by Dawn, who's there resisting her boyfriend's advances.

And the drama continues ... incidentally, Shirley MacLaine gives a terrific, touching, tear-jerking portrayal of a simple girl who just wants to be loved. If this sounds a lot like her role in Sweet Charity (1969), it is (and it isn't). However, this film was released more than 10 years earlier and represents actress’s first Oscar recognition (a Best Actress nomination). Unfortunately, other than Ms. MacLaine’s character, there's there’s not much else to hold one's interest for 137 minutes. Frank Sinatra, the male lead, is either playing an ill-defined character to begin with, or has given us a performance that could be called unbelievable or even wooden. Most of the other characters are either caricatures or one dimensional. For example, Dean Martin plays an affable good old boy, a professional gambler who won't take off his cowboy hat and Martha Hyer plays a stereotypical cold blonde (how she earned her only Oscar recognition, a Supporting Actress nomination, is anyone's guess). Arthur Kennedy, who's character does have some depth, earned his last of five unrewarded Oscar nominations for his Supporting performance. The Original Song, "To Love and Be Loved", and the film's Costume Design were also nominated.

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