Thursday, April 26, 2007

'You know how it is, a guy gets loaded...'

Saw a really strange movie the other night.

Had a great cast, though. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Shirley MacLaine. You'd think names like that would draw attention by itself. But I'd never heard of the flick.

Released in 1958, "Some Came Running" is the story of Dave Hirsh (Sinatra), an ex-GI and former writer, who returns to his hometown of Parkman, Ind., in 1948. Dave is estranged from his prosperous brother Frank (Arthur Kennedy), but is determined to settle down and put his life back together.

Well, that's not quite true. At the start of the film, Sinatra gets off the bus with party girl Ginnie Moorehead (MacLaine), who tells him he promised to bring her on a trip. Dave figures out that must have happened while he was drunk in Chicago, hence his great line, "You know how it is, a guy gets loaded..." He gives her money to get back to the Windy City, but Ginnie stays anyway.

No, it takes teacher Gwen French (Martha Hyer) to get Dave interested in settling down. She shows interest in his writing; he's attracted to her maturity and intelligence.

But Gwen remains non-committal, weary of Dave's reputation and lifestyle. Meanwhile, Dave meets up with wandering gambler Bama Dillert (Martin), and ultimately takes off toward Indianapolis with Dillert, Ginnie and another girl when Gwen ignores him.

"Some Came Running" is a bizarre film. It's nothing at all like the "Rat Pack has fun" movie I figured it would be when I saw the cast list. It veers between a small-town soap opera and a morality play. Director Vincente Minnelli took no pains to shape the story into a coherent narrative. Instead the plot wanders, jumps around, finally ends up at a carnival.

I'll spare you the ending just in case you see this curious little piece of celluloid on the late show one night. I can't call it a classic, but I did stay with it for two plus hours.

The best part is Sinatra. He has some great lines early on.

Sample:

"You don't look like (your brother)."

"Thanks."

A viewer on Internet Movie Database calls "Some Came Running" a masterpiece.

It's nothing close, but is worth watching. Look for it if you're up late flipping channels one night.

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