Classic Movie Review: Some Came Running (1958)

Title: Some Came Running
Release Date: December 18, 1958
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Production Company:  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Some Came Running is the first movie I’ve watched starring Frank Sinatra (not including cameos in films like Around the World in 80 Days). It’s directed by Vincente Minnelli, who is most famous for classic musicals and romances like Meet Me in St. Louis.  Despite starring one of the great vocalists of all time, Some Came Running is a straight-up drama, or melodrama as is the case.

Sinatra plays Dave Hirsh, a man who has published novel but now struggles to write. He left his hometown in Indiana 16 years earlier bouncing around among odd jobs and most recently serving in the army.  As the film begins, he returns to his hometown, accompanied by Ginny (Shirley MacLaine) whom he drunkenly invited to join him in Chicago and then promptly forgot about. His homecoming is not joyous as he has a strained relationship with his brother and sister-and-law (Arthur Kennedy and Leora Dana).  They are social climbers and since Dave is a noted author they introduce him to a prominent local professor and his schoolteacher daughter, Gwen (Martha Hyer).

Dave immediately falls in love in Gwen, but she has little interest in him beyond his writing.  She’s particularly put off by his drinking and association with the gambler Bama (Dean Martin).  Dave starts off as a cynical and self-absorbed character but gradually opens up a kinder side. He shows kindness to Ginny, who falls as helplessly in love with him as he has fallen for Gwen. He also takes his niece Dawn (Betty Lou Keim) under his wing, perhaps feeling a kinship with her because she has a strained relationship with her parents.

I wanted to like this movie more than I did.  The acting is great, particularly Sinatra, MacLaine, and Martin, but the plot is just too melodramatic. I’m always a tough sell on the “love at first sight” trope in movies and this one failed the “show don’t tell” test.  The story though does seem to have the seeds of something that could be remade as a quality movie today.

Rating: ***

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