This movie had a massive impact on me when I was a kid. I saw it the first time when I was a teenager, babysitting. The kids were asleep and I was alone in the parents' bedroom, eating chips, drinking soda and watching old movies. Because it's Sinatra singing the oldies, I assumed it was a merry Hollywood musical. It is not.
Very bad things happen to good people. (It has one of the most harrowing bloody scenes I recall in a black and white film; especially disturbing when you're a kid watching alone in a strange house.) Heroes do not necessarily behave valiantly. True love does not conquer all.
This is because the story didn't come from a scriptwriter's imagination. It was based on real events. (I've been to The Green Mill, the bar where Sinatra/Joe E. Lewis chose not to perform). The story was well-known enough that, when I told my parents about the movie, they confirmed the bare bones of the plot.
The message I learned in theory that long-ago night -- that life doesn't work out the way it's supposed to -- has, of course, been born out time and again in real life. I appreciate that Francis prepared me (somewhat).
*Ava and I call him Francis.
†Screw you, New York. He sang two songs about us: "My Kind of Town (Chicago Is)" and "Chicago (That Toddlin' Town)." And he sang our songs first, thank you very much.