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Banned in the U.S.A.

Friday, December 4, 1992
Man with the Golden Arm
Otto Preminger USA, 1955

Just out of prison, card-shark Frankie Machine (Frank Sinatra) is back at his old Chicago haunts. He's left behind his heroin addiction and brought home a new-found talent, jazz drumming. Though determined to begin life anew, he soon succumbs to pressure from his neurotic wife (Eleanor Parker) and a nettle of local hustlers, and is back on the needle, in a wallow of hypo'd despair. The Production Code Administration refused Man with the Golden Arm its Seal because their twenty-five-year-old guidelines forbade even the mention of addictive drugs. And regardless of the film's grim realism, the PCA insinuated that it advocated addiction by demonstrating its use. Frankie's tragic decline and the harrowing "cold turkey" sequence in which he tears at the walls of his friend Molly (Kim Novak)'s apartment should have been enough to leave anyone cold about drugs. Oddly, the Legion of Decency was cooler under the collar than the PCA. To appease their minor complaints, Preminger merely cut thirty seconds-getting rid of the drug paraphernalia-from the film's sole fix scene.

• Written by Walter Newman, Lewis Meltzer, based on the novel by Nelson Ahlgren. Photographed by Sam Leavitt. With Frank Sinatra, Eleanor Parker, Kim Novak, Darren McGavin. (119 mins, B&W, 35mm, From Films Inc.)