Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Overlooked Movies: Some Came Running

Even when I was a kid, I was fascinated by books and movies about writers.  Some Came Running, based on a novel by James Jones, is one of those widescreen Technicolor melodramas that were typical of the '50s.  

Dave Hirsch, the formerly promising writer, is played by Frank Sinatra, just out of the army and returning to his hometown, where his brother is a successful businessman.  On the bus, he meets Ginnie, a not-so-classy young woman who falls for him.  She sticks around the old hometown, too, though Frank supposedly falls for Martha Heyer, the local schoolmarm. 

Frank meets a heavy-drinking professional gambler, Bama, played by Dean Martin, and the two become roomies.  They do pretty well on the gambling circuit, too.  Meanwhile, a gangster from Chicago has followed Ginnie to town and isn't happy with her infatuation with Frank. 

The things I remember best from my first viewing of this movie are the performances of Shirley Maclaine and Dean Martin.  At the time I was a bit worried about Martin (I cared about such things) because recently his partnership with Jerry Lewis had ended, and I wondered if Martin was going to be able to make it on his own.  This movie convinced me that he would.  He was great.   Maclaine was nominated for an Oscar.  She claimed it was because Sinatra insisted that they change the ending of the movie.  Maybe so.  There's a great carnival scene, too.  

Some of the '50s attitudes towards women captured here might be a offensive to today's viewer, but I suspect nobody thought a thing about them when the movie played in 1958.


  1. Gerard8:41 AM

    You'll need to post a piece on your carnival fascination.

    On a related topic no one cares about: James Jones's original typewritten manuscript for FROM HERE TO ETERNITY is at the Univ of IL library rare books room. They put it on display, under glass, every so often. I don't think they'd let me paw over it even if I asked nice.

  2. http://elusivelucidity.blogspot.com/2010/12/some-came-running.html

    ...touches on a lot of that 'tude that you refer to, Bill...I think I need to read the novel, as well as see the film...

  3. Thanks for that link, Todd. I think the essay is right about most of that. The novel is way too long for me. Over 1000 pages, I think.

  4. I have always been fond of this movie. I think at that point, it felt like a really adult film and I was eager to enter that world-if unprepared.

  5. Anonymous2:16 PM

    I liked it a lot too, especially MacLaine.


  6. I still have my paperback copy somewhere and the movie was one I loved when it came out. Saw it at least twice in the theatre. Are you saying, Bill, that you didn't finish reading the novel or that you felt it was too long?

  7. I didn't ever start it. Too intimidated, though back in those days I read long books all the time. I don't know why I didn't read that one, since I really liked the movie.