Professional poker dealer (Frank Sinatra) returns to Chicago after a spell in prison for possession of heroin, determined to be a reformed character and make it as a jazz drummer. The odds are stacked against him, however. For with a neurotic and invalid wife and the presence of his old drug pushing 'friends' it is not long before he gives in to temptation and is back on drugs. Based on Nelson Algren's novel, this adaptation was considered ground-breaking at the time of its original release in 1955, not least because drugs were a subject matter that Hollywood had previously steered well clear of. Sinatra's preparation for the role was thorough, visiting drug rehabilitation clinics, and he gives one of his best performances. Combine this with Elmer Bernstein's excellent jazz score and Preminger's superb direction and the result is one of the most important releases in American cinematic history.