Some Came Running (PG)

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The Independent Culture

I think I need to get to know the novels of James Jones better: he provided the source material not only for From Here to Eternity and The Thin Red Line, but this marvellously baroque, overblown drama. Frank Sinatra is a dried-up writer returning to the Midwest town where he spent a miserable boyhood, pursued by a fluff-brained floozy (Shirley MacLaine).

Here, he encounters his hidebound elder brother (Arthur Kennedy), a booze hound and professional gambler (Dean Martin) and an uptight college lecturer (Martha Hyer), who'd like to get him writing again. Sinatra, apparently intended to represent authenticity and freedom, manages to come across as chiselling and exploitative, even in supposedly romantic moments; and some of the dialogue is outright vicious in its misogyny. But just considered as a piece of film-making, with garish Technicolor and a jazzy Elmer Bernstein score, it is spectacular.