This film deals with both drug and crime addiction, seeing Frankie Machine, played effortlessly by Frank Sinatra, teeter and fall into the hurricane of sin that is the hustler lifestyle.
The film begins with an upbeat tone. After Frankie has been in rehab, he becomes motivated to join a 'big band' as a drummer; this style of music scores a majority of the film. There is even a noticeable comedic thread with Arnold Stang providing a loveable goof-ball in Sparrow, Frankie's right-hand man. One particular visual gag involving a scrapbook made me laugh out loud.
However, as Frankie hurtles faster and faster toward his doom, the tone of the film descends too. From the film's climax, the tone seems to adopt a film noir influence, where Frankie is met with problem after problem, whichever way he turns. Even Molly, the only woman that truly cares for him, leaves after finding out that Frankie hasn't kicked his old foe.
The film ends with a climactic crash, culminating in harrowing scenes of betrayal and desperation. While the film ends on a sour note, the audience are left to hope for good things. But, in a world fraught with hustlers and gangsters, is optimism foolish?