So, over Christmas 2020 the COVID-19 entered my household. These posts are those that had to be written up later because being at the computer for more than 15 minutes made me feel beyond tired. I can cook, but I can’t type – it’s very strange. Still, these posts were done well after the fact so apologies in advance.
You know that person that lights up the screen no matter what film they are in? That’s Shirley MacLaine. That person who, in many films, is just not used enough? That’s Shirley MacLaine. The person that can break your heart at a moment’s notice? Right, that’s Shirley MacLaine – the actress who is the beating heart of Some Came Running and I still feel teary about when writing this post some time after seeing the film.
Some Came Running, as a film, has some issues. Mostly those with misogyny. This is something that was likely in the source material which, at 1200+ pages long, was pared down significantly (and the ending changed for the better) so that it could be brought to the big screen. This means that, with the exception of MacClaine’s character, a lot of the women are simply characterised and the actresses try their best to fill roles that are mostly stereotypes of female roles in a film.
Then there is Shirley MacClaine, in a supporting role to Frank Sinatra as a prodigal son who returns to an icy welcome from a family who shipped him off to a boarding house at the age of 12. He has drinking problems and, wouldn’t you know, is also an incredibly gifted and misunderstood writer – it’s a loose autobiography if you couldn’t get that from the character description.
Makes it all the important that you have her there to be the emotional centre of the film… even if that probably wasn’t the point of her role in the first place. Still though, it got her the first of many Oscar nominations – so I know I am not the only person who fell in love with her completely. The speech her character gives about not being able to understand Sinatra or the stories he writes, but still is in love with him – my God your heart breaks for her.
It’s also worth noting just how well directed parts of this are. There is a long at a fairground for the finale, which brought to mind a similar scene from Strangers on a Train, which is a beautiful mix of colour, claustrophobia and tension – all whilst in a place that should be incredibly upbeat. This is a film worth seeing despite the flaws.