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A Hatful of Rain(1957)

When Michael V. Gazzo’s hit play opened on Broadway in 1955, Hollywood films were not allowed to depict its central topic, drug addiction. Twentieth Century-Fox bought the screen rights anyway, and when the Production Code was revised a year later (after the success of 1955’s The Man with the Golden Arm, released without Code approval) Fox was the first out of the gate with this intelligent drama. Gazzo adapted his play with Alfred Hayes and an uncredited Carl Foreman (the blacklisted writer’s credit was added in 1998). Don Murray stars as a Korean War veteran who picked up an addiction to morphine from treatment for war injuries. He keeps his wife (Eva Marie Saint) in the dark, but turns to his brother (Anthony Franciosa) for help supporting his expensive habit and keeping his dangerous pusher (Henry Silva) at bay. With a strong cast, including several members from the Actors Studio, the film is an actor’s classic. Franciosa and Silva had played their roles on stage, and the former snagged an Oscar nomination for his performance. Director Fred Zinnemann and Murray worked with the New York City Narcotics Squad to research drug addiction, visiting addicts’ hangouts and observing patients going through withdrawal, helping to make this one of the screen’s most honest depictions of addiction. (d. Fred Zinnemann, 109m, Digital)

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