Frank Sinatra, as the drug-addicted poker dealer, plays a reasonably naturalistic character, but he's surrounded by a collection of bizarre archetypes (Eleanor Parker as his demanding, crippled girlfriend; Kim Novak as an “entertainer” with a heart of gold) and trapped in one of the most audaciously unreal studio sets ever designed for a Hollywood film.
...The most potent movie among the four considered here is undoubtedly The Man With the Golden Arm. It packs the biggest wallop, and it features what is surely the strongest of all Frank Sinatra’s dramatic performances, as well as the most affecting and glowing of Kim Novak’s.
A significant film from Preminger’s middle-career, The Man with the Golden Arm is at once emotionally and visually compelling, and efficient and contained; the work of a controlled and assertive director. It features a remarkably assured performance from Frank Sinatra as the central protagonist Frankie Machine, a recently reformed heroin addict who struggles to keep clean after returning from rehab to his home in a grimy Chicago slum.