Joe E. Lewis (Frank Sinatra) was an up-and-coming night club singer in Chicago during Prohibition. He ran afoul of the mob and got his vocal cords slashed, ending his singing career and forcing him to start fresh as a vaudeville comic. He gradually became a popular comedian but also an alcoholic and compulsive gambler, thus ruining his romantic prospects.
Sinatra delivers a haunting performance that is restrained and understated and achingly sad. It's a grim story, watching a man bent on self-destruction and oblivious to the needs of those who loved him, but you just can't take your eyes off of him. He makes you forget it's a movie. Jeanne Crain is lovely as his longtime society girlfriend, Eddie Albert is quite likable as his pianist and loyal friend Austin, and Beverly Garland has a good part as Austin's outspoken wife. Mitzi Gaynor plays Lewis' showgirl wife who learned that her love wasn't enough to save Joe.
Fans of Frank Sinatra will certainly appreciate this 1957 movie; he shows he could really act in a role without glamour, flash, or humor. The beautiful and sad title song will stay with you long after the film. Highly recommended.
Sinatra plays a man who reshaped his career but couldn't find personal happiness.