Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Film-Noir  |  27 June 1957 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 8.2/10 from 18,766 users   Metascore: 100/100
Reviews: 108 user | 99 critic | 5 from Metacritic.com

Powerful but unethical Broadway columnist J.J. Hunsecker coerces unscrupulous press agent Sidney Falco into breaking up his sister's romance with a jazz musician.


(screenplay), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
Watch Trailer
0Check in


Airs Tue. Dec. 08, 10:30 PM on TCM

Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A frustrated former big-city journalist now stuck working for an Albuquerque newspaper exploits a story about a man trapped in a cave to re-jump start his career, but the situation quickly escalates into an out-of-control circus.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Kirk Douglas, Jan Sterling, Robert Arthur
Drama | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.

Director: Jacques Tourneur
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas
Laura (1944)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A police detective falls in love with the woman whose murder he is investigating.

Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb
The Killers (1946)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Hit men kill an unresisting victim, and investigator Reardon uncovers his past involvement with beautiful, deadly Kitty Collins.

Director: Robert Siodmak
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

The desperate life of a chronic alcoholic is followed through a four day drinking bout.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Ray Milland, Jane Wyman, Phillip Terry
Rififi (1955)
Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Four men plan a technically perfect crime, but the human element intervenes...

Director: Jules Dassin
Stars: Jean Servais, Carl Möhner, Robert Manuel
The Big Heat (1953)
Crime | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Tough cop Dave Bannion takes on a politically powerful crime syndicate.

Director: Fritz Lang
Stars: Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Jocelyn Brando
Elmer Gantry (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A fast-talking traveling salesman with a charming, loquacious manner convinces a sincere evangelist that he can be an effective preacher for her cause.

Director: Richard Brooks
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Jean Simmons, Arthur Kennedy
Drama | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A potentially violent screenwriter is a murder suspect until his lovely neighbor clears him. But she begins to have doubts...

Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy
Certificate: Passed Crime | Film-Noir | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A major heist goes off as planned, until bad luck and double crosses cause everything to unravel.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen
White Heat (1949)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A psychopathic criminal with a mother complex makes a daring break from prison and leads his old gang in a chemical plant payroll heist. Shortly after the plan takes place, events take a crazy turn

Director: Raoul Walsh
Stars: James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Edmond O'Brien
Adventure | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A director of escapist films goes on the road as a hobo to learn about Life...which gives him a rude awakening.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake, Robert Warwick


Complete credited cast:
Susan Harrison ...
Susan Hunsecker
Steve Dallas (as Marty Milner)
Jeff Donnell ...
Sam Levene ...
Frank D' Angelo
Joe Frisco ...
Herbie Temple
Emile Meyer ...
Lt. Harry Kello
Edith Atwater ...
The Chico Hamilton Quintet ...


J.J. Hunsecker, the most powerful newspaper columnist in New York, is determined to prevent his sister from marrying Steve Dallas, a jazz musician. He therefore covertly employs Sidney Falco, a sleazy and unscrupulous press agent, to break up the affair by any means possible. Written by David Levene <D.S.Levene@durham.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Motion Picture That Will Never Be Forgiven... Or Forgotten! See more »


Drama | Film-Noir


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

27 June 1957 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dein Schicksal in meiner Hand  »

Box Office


$2,600,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Burt Lancaster' blamed Ernest Lehman's withdrawal due to illness for the film's box-office failure. At the after party for the premiere, Lancaster threatened to beat Lehman up. The witty scribe replied, "Go ahead, I need the money." See more »


Susie's hair during the cab journey to her apartment with Sidney. See more »


J.J. Hunsecker: Sidney, this syrup you're giving out with... you pour over waffles, not J.J. Hunsecker.
See more »


Referenced in L.A. Noire (2011) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Burt Lancaster is scary!
28 December 2003 | by (San Francisco) – See all my reviews

Remember how scary Robert Mitchum was in Night of the Hunter? Or Darth Vader in the first Star Wars movie? Well Burt Lancaster as J.J. Hunsecker is right up there with them. With his clipped words, ice-cold gaze, rigid neck and steel-rimmed glasses, he looks like he's ready to break people in half with just the power of his voice. He drifts through the film like an unstoppable barge, commanding every scene with just the turn of his head. Seldom is there such a powerful screen presence.

Lancaster's performance alone is worth seeing this film, but the writing cracks like a whip. This is some of the best writing I've ever seen in any film, recalling the brilliant writing of All About Eve or Citizen Kane: "Come back Sidney, I want to chastise you some more", "turn around and look: is she still standing there?", "you're a cookie full of arsenic", "I see your brother's words coming out of your mouth like a ventriloquist's dummy", "I would never use an elephant gun to shoot a mosquito". Over and over, the witty dialogue slices through the scenes like a razor. You have to see this film to believe it.

Tony Curtis was never better as a sleazy PR guy as he pimps his secretary, slobbers at J.J.'s heels like an obsequious mutt, and colludes with the crooked cops to frame people. Within this maelstrom of cynicism and anger are two young lovers, driven apart by J.J.'s overbearing presence.

The photography is excellent, you can almost smell the wet NYC streets. Black and white never looked better.

This is an excellent film, and highly recommended. I wish they still made movies like this.

105 of 109 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Most Quotable movie ever VetteMAE
Best 'on location' movies of the era jjthe2
Tony Curtis as Sidney Falco—one of the best portrayals in movie history SArber
Julie Andrews uncredited cameo? jonnyplex
John and Joan Cusack + Jeremy Piven elizalisa
the Coat as metaphor... lorene-lavora
Discuss Sweet Smell of Success (1957) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: