Some Came Running

Spurred on by the sales and the critical acclaim of his best-selling From Here to Eternity, James Jones set out to write yet another great American novel. The result was Some Came Running, the story of a war veteran with literary aspirations who returns in 1948 to his hometown of Parkman, Illinois, after a failed writing career. While it wasn't quite the masterpiece Jones hoped it would be, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, in a bid to duplicate the success of the multi-Academy Award winning film adaptation of From Here to Eternity (1953), optioned the 1,200-plus-page book and cast Frank Sinatra as the lead, Dave Hirsh. Sinatra approved Dean Martin for the role of his gambling pal, Bama Dillert, in what would be their first film together. Martin, who had recently split from a partnership with Jerry Lewis, was just beginning to prove himself as an actor and would win some of the best notices of his career for his performance here. Shirley MacLaine was cast as the adorable floozy Ginny Moorehead, who falls for Hirsh. MacLaine garnered her first Academy Award nomination which she credited to Sinatra for his insistence on the film's ending being changed. Hailed as a masterpiece of American cinema, Some Came Running was a box office success, earning $4.3 million in rentals and being ranked by Variety as the 10th highest-earning film of 1958.

Plot introduction

Dave Hirsh (Frank Sinatra) is a cynical army veteran who winds up in his hometown of Parkman, after being put on a bus in Chicago while intoxicated. A woman of seemingly loose morals and poor education, Ginny Moorehead (Shirley MacLaine), has taken the same bus. Hirsh left Parkman sixteen years before when his older brother Frank (Arthur Kennedy) placed him in a charity boarding school and is still embittered. Frank has since married well, inherited a business from the father of his wife Agnes (Leora Dana), and has made their social status his highest priority. Dave's return threatens this, so Frank makes a fruitless stab at arranging respectability, introducing him to Professor French (Larry Gates) and his teacher daughter Gwen (Martha Hyer). Dave moves in different circles, however. He befriends Bama Dillert (Dean Martin), a gambler who serendipitously has settled in Parkman. Two factors seem to offer Dave hope and redemption: he takes a fatherly interest in his niece, Frank's daughter Dawn, and falls in love with Gwen. Despite his somewhat notorious reputation, Dave Hirsh is basically a good, honest man, well aware of his own shortcomings. His cynicism is often a mask to hide the pain of rejection. Though Ginny is not his social or intellectual match, he eventually sees the basic good in her and responds to her unconditional love. Stalked by her former boyfriend (a Chicago hoodlum), Ginny proves unequivocally the depth of her love for Dave in the end. In the novel, however, it is Dave who is the innocent victim.

Influence on Cinema

Highly admired in France and Europe and remaining a cult film to date among film-makers and audiences alike, Some Came Running remains a work of some stature in American cinema. Despite this it will be somewhat of a late arrival on the DVD format when it is eventually released on May 13th 2008.

Jean-Luc Godard in his Le Mepris refers to this film when the main character (a screenwriter) explains to his wife, his decision to wear a hat in a bathtub by saying that he's "like Dean Martin in Some Came Running".

Martin Scorsese included a clip from the film for his A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies; the film's final playground scene, to Scorsese, remains one of the best and most expressive uses of CinemaScope in American Cinema.

In his book Who The Hell's In It, acclaimed director Peter Bogdanovich wrote extensively about Some Came Running, later filming a short segment for TCM on the film and its influence on cinema.

In the 1997 Disney film Flubber, a clip of Ginny from the film is shown. The hovering yellow melodramatic droid Weebo wants to be human and love her bumbling creator, but also wants him to be with the real women he loves. She shows a clip of Ginny talking to Gwen in Gwen's teaching class, saying "I want him to be happy, even if he ain't with me."

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

The movie was adapted by John Patrick and Arthur Sheekman from the novel. It was directed by Vincente Minnelli and filmed on location in and around Madison, Indiana.

The town of Parkman was loosely based on author Jones' hometown of Robinson, Illinois.

Critical Reception

Released to critical plaudits, Some Came Running was revered both nationally and internationally on release, whilst star Frank Sinatra garnered some of the strongest notice of his career, Variety noting that "Sinatra gives a top performance, sardonic and compassionate, full of touches both instinctive and technical. It is not easy, either, to play a man dying of a chronic illness and do it with grace and humor, and this Martin does without faltering."

Awards and Nominations

External links

  • TCM Website:
  • Variety's Review:

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