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.
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.
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>
They know him - and they shiver - the big names of Broadway, Hollywood and Capitol Hill. They know J.J.- the world-famed columnist whose gossip is gospel to sixty million readers! They know the venom that flickers in those eyes behind the glasses - and they fawn - like Sid Falco, the kid who wanted "in" so much, he'd sell out his own girl to stand up there with J.J., sucking in the sweet smell of success! This is J.J.'s story - but not the way he would have liked it told! See more »
After writer Ernest Lehman withdrew from the project because of a stomach problem, much to the chagrin of producer/star Lancaster, Hecht-Hill-Lancaster hired Clifford Odets for rewrites. The noteworthy writer reconstructed every scene. As soon as he had finished writing a scene in his hotel room, it was rushed to the location for Mackendrick to shoot. According to Lancaster biographer Gary Fishgall, pages were distributed to the crew after they had been shot. See more »
When Sidney is trying to see the column in advance, the position of the secretary changes. This is when she moves the copy from one side of the desk to the other. See more »
Another poster "stole" the one line summary I wanted to use: "Match me, Sidney." Damn. It's one of the best lines in the movie. Oh, well.
"Sweet Smell of Success" is a great, wildly entertaining movie. It reminds me of "Dangerous Liasons" in both it's subject ("bad" people making life worse for more decent folk) and how swiftly and imaginatively directed it is. It's juicy from beginning to end. Burt Lancaster is once again terrific as J.J. Hunsecker, Walter Winchell-esque writer of a "society" column which is more of a tool of destruction for those who cross his path.
But it's Tony Curtis who holds the movie together. Always scheming and plotting and never letting a decent human emotion take precedence over his drive to succeed at any cost. He's Marvelous and was never again to achieve what he did here.
But there's a third star to this production and it's New York City itself. The on location photography is stunning. What is amazing is that at the time the movie was made (1957) on location filming was just becoming "in vogue". For a film like this, it HAD to filmed on location or else it's power would be substantially diluted. I work in Manhattan near where a lot of this film was made (J.J. lives in the Brill Building which is on Broadway between 49th and 50th Streets, right around the corner from me). To see what the neighborhood looked like over 40 years ago is amazing. Surprisingly, it's the astonishing on site photography that prevents the film from really feeling dated. Also, the themes in the film are timeless as well.
"Sweet Smell of Success" is a classic from top to bottom.
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