SOME CAME RUNNING

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I spent last week reading James Jones’ Some Came Running. After I finished it, I wanted to see the movie version that stars Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Shirley MacClaine. The movie came out in 1959, just two years after the book was published. Frank Sinatra plays Dave Hirsh, a service man just returning home after serving in WWII. Home is Parkman, Illinois: a small town that’s growing after the war. Dave’s brother, Frank, owns a jewelry store and stands to make a lot of money as the town grows. Dean Martin plays Bama Dillert, a professional gambler who becomes attached to Dave Hirsh. Shirley MacLaine plays a loose woman named Ginnie Moorehead who falls in love with Dave Hirsh. Dave falls in love with Gwen French, a teacher. As you might suspect, plenty of complications ensue. The conclusion is slightly different from the novel version. I was impressed that the movie version of Some Came Running captured the essence of the 1,266-page book. Not a bad trick for a 2-hour movie. GRADE: B+

26 thoughts on “SOME CAME RUNNING

  1. Dan

    My only problem with this excellent film is that after seeing it I expected much better from Frank & Dino’s subsequent movies than they felt like delivering.

    You can visit Madison Indiana where this was filmed; the downtown is still recognizable from the film.

    Can you buy copies of Shirley’s purse anywhere?

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  2. Michael Padgett

    I’m wondering which version you read–the original hardcover version published in 1957 or one of the versions published later. The mass market paperback of the novel was dubbed an “uncensored abridgement” (whatever that means), and as far as I know the original h/c version never appeared again in any form. A few years ago Open Road published a “definitive” version and what’s available now is an “authorized abridged edition”. I became a James Jones fan in the late 70s, read the novel then, and considered it something of a chore to get through. I loved the movie, and nearly 40 years after reading the novel it’s difficult to separate my memory of the book from my memory of the movie. I do believe, though, that the movie was a pretty good adaptation. Not that I have any intention of reading the thing again, I’ve been curious as to what those subsequent versions of the novel are like.

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    1. george Post author

      Michael, I was able to find a First Edition hardcover of SOME CAME RUNNING online for $12. The unabridged version was never reprinted. All subsequent editions have been cut, even the recent edition edited by James Jones’ daughter. You’re right: the movie version was faithful to the book.

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  3. Jeff Meyerson

    I liked the movie a lot too. MacLaine was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar and Arthur Kennedy and Martha Hyer for Supporting Oscars. None of them won. (Susan Hayward, Burl Ives and Wendy Hiller were the winners, in case you’re interested. GIGI was Best Picture.)

    I’ll never read the book either, in all likelihood.

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    1. george Post author

      Jeff, the trick is to find an unabridged version of SOME CAME RUNNING. I wish the complete edition would be available as an ebook. It was a pain (literally!) holding that 1,266-page book!

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  4. Richard R.

    George, in your opinion did the book need all 1266 pages to accomplish the telling of the story, or did it feel padded? Like other commenters, I doubt I’ll read it at that length. Perhaps there’s a Cliff Notes version. I haven’t seen the film, either.

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      1. george Post author

        Rick, James Jones had the power to make you care about his characters. You wanted to see what happened to them. Another American writer with this kind of storytelling power was Theodore Dreiser. He wrote long books that (like James Jones’) didn’t seem long.

  5. Patti Abbott

    Hollywood used to be very good at this sort of movie. The soaring score, the glamorous cast, the lovely sets, the hyperbolic angst and passion. Sorrow.
    I think this is the sort of movie people want to see now. Or at least some of us.

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  6. Kent Morgan

    I never knew about the hardcover and paperback versions being different. The copy I read and still have boxed somewhere was the first PB. I enjoyed the movie when it came out and usually watch at least part of it whenever it shows up on TV.

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    1. george Post author

      Kent, I’m sure the length of the unabridged version of SOME CAME RUNNING was a key reason why the book flopped. A 1,266-page book without a dragon in it is doomed.

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  7. Reed Andrus

    George, did I miss your reference to one of the major highlights of the film — the terrific score by Elmer Bernstein? A long-time favorite of this soundtrack lover who places Jerry Goldsmith as the only composer to top Bernstein’s work. I enjoy the film probably more for the music than for the story.

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