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Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Film-Noir  |  27 June 1957 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 18,493 users   Metascore: 100/100
Reviews: 108 user | 99 critic | 5 from

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 »
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Title: Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

Sweet Smell of Success (1957) on IMDb 8.2/10

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



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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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The almighty J.J. ...the columnist with sixty million believers ...his wrath is feared by the great and near great who worship the sweet smell of success! 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?


Named No. 100 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time in 2013. See more »


During the theater confrontation scene, Hunsucker is writing on a small note pad, but the pad and pen suddenly vanish from his hands as he and Falco move up onto the stage. See more »


Mary: If it's true, J.J.'s gonna hit the ceiling.
Sidney Falco: Can it be news to you that J.J.'s ceiling needs a new plaster job every six weeks?
See more »

Crazy Credits

introducing Susan Harrison. See more »


Referenced in The Newsroom: Election Night: Part II (2013) See more »

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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?

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