Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, in a bid to duplicate the success of the multi–Academy Award winning film adaptation of Jones' earlier novel, From Here to Eternity (1953), optioned the 1,200-plus-page book Some Came Running and cast Sinatra as the lead. Sinatra approved Dean Martin for the role of Bama, in what would be their first film together. MacLaine garnered her first Academy Award nomination, which she credited to Sinatra for his insistence on changing the film's ending. The film was released in CinemaScope and Metrocolor.
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. Ginny Moorehead (Shirley MacLaine), a woman of seemingly loose morals and poor education, was invited by Dave in his drunken state to accompany him to Parkman. When Dave sobers up, he realizes it was a mistake, and gives her money to return to Chicago. However, she decides to stay because she has fallen in love with Dave and is also trying to escape a violent boyfriend back in Chicago.
Dave left Parkman 16 years before and had a career as a writer, publishing two books. He did not visit or stay in touch with his older brother, Frank (Arthur Kennedy), because he is still embittered about how Frank and his wife Agnes (Leora Dana) treated him when he was a child. Frank, who was newly married to the well-off Agnes, had placed him in a charity boarding school rather than take Dave to live in his home. Frank has since inherited a jewelry business from Agnes' father, sits on the board of a local bank, and is active in civic affairs. Frank and Agnes are very concerned about their social status and reputation in the town, which is threatened when Dave returns without letting them know and then deposits a large sum of his gambling winnings in the bank that competes with Frank's bank. Frank attempts to make amends with Dave in order to get him to move the bank deposit. Agnes wants nothing to do with Dave, but is forced to welcome him after two of her wealthy social acquaintances, Professor French (Larry Gates) and his daughter Gwen (Martha Hyer), a schoolteacher, ask to meet Dave because they admire his books.
When Dave meets Gwen, he immediately falls in love with her. She is attracted to him as well, but is afraid of the passionate feelings he arouses in her and of his lifestyle. Each time Gwen rejects him, he ends up back with Ginny, even though her lack of intelligence frustrates him and she is nothing like Gwen. Dave has also befriended a hard-partying but good-hearted gambler, Bama Dillert (Dean Martin), and the two get into trouble when Ginny's ex-boyfriend, a gangster named Ray, comes to town stalking her. Frank is upset about the bad reflection on him from Dave's lifestyle. However, Dave is shown to be a good man despite his notorious reputation when he treats Ginny with kindness and takes a fatherly interest in his niece, Frank's daughter Dawn (Betty Lou Keim), who becomes upset and tries to run away when she sees her father in a lovers' lane with his secretary.
Dave's new story that he wrote with Gwen's encouragement is published in The Atlantic magazine, and Gwen confesses her love to him by telephone while he is on a gambling trip out of town with Bama and Ginny. Gwen's phone call leads the gamblers to think Dave is cheating at cards, triggering a fight in which Bama is stabbed. Ginny later visits Gwen at her school to ask if Gwen and Dave are in a relationship and confess her own love for Dave. Gwen is horrified to discover Dave has been seeing Ginny, assures Ginny that there is nothing between her and Dave, and then cuts Dave off. Dave, at the end of his rope from Gwen's rejection, decides to marry Ginny, even over Bama's objections. While she is not Dave's social or intellectual match, she gives him unconditional love that he's never had from anyone else. The two marry, but soon after they leave the judge's house, Ray comes after them with a gun, shoots and injures Dave, and then shoots Ginny dead as she tries to protect Dave (in the James Jones novel, it is Dave who is shot in the face and killed by the character of Ray). Dave, Bama and Gwen all attend her funeral.Frank Sinatra as Dave Hirsh
Dean Martin as Bama Dillert
Shirley MacLaine as Ginny Moorehead
Martha Hyer as Gwen French
Arthur Kennedy as Frank Hirsh
Nancy Gates as Edith Barclay
Leora Dana as Agnes Hirsh
Betty Lou Keim as Dawn Hirsh
Larry Gates as Professor Robert Haven French
Connie Gilchrist as Jane Barclay
Much of the film was shot in and around the town of Madison, Indiana. Shirley McLaine reported that Sinatra was "besieged" by the local Indiana women, and that at one point a woman broke through a rope barrier around a house and flung herself at Sinatra as her husband ran to stop her, pleading "Helen, you don't even know the man!".
Released to critical plaudits, Some Came Running was praised both nationally and internationally on release, with Sinatra garnering some of the strongest notices of his career. Variety noted 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."
The film was popular with the public. According to MGM records, it earned $4,245,000 in the US and Canada and $2,050,000 elsewhere, becoming the 10th highest-earning film of 1958. But its high cost meant that MGM would record a loss of $207,000 on the film.Nominations
Best Actress: Shirley MacLaine
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Arthur Kennedy
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Martha Hyer
Best Original Song: "To Love And Be Loved," Music by Jimmy Van Heusen; Lyrics by Sammy Cahn
Best Costume Design: Walter Plunkett
Martin Scorsese included a clip from the film for his A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies; the film's final carnival scene remains for Scorsese one of the best and most expressive uses of CinemaScope.
In his book Who the Hell's in It, director Peter Bogdanovich writes extensively about Some Came Running. He later filmed a short segment for Turner Classic Movies on its influence on cinema.
In the 1997 movie Flubber, the robot Weebo uses a clip from the film as a shout-out for why she won't sabotage the professors relationship anymore.
Some Came Running was released to DVD by Warner Home Video on May 13, 2008 as a Region 1 widescreen DVD and also on the same date as part of the 5-disc box set Frank Sinatra: The Golden Years with Some Came Running as the fourth disc.