Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Film-Noir  |  27 June 1957 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 18,749 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 »
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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 <D.S.Levene@durham.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


This is the story of J.J. - But not the way he wants it told! 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?


David White's movie debut See more »


Microphone shadow during coffee shop scene with Steve and Susan. See more »


J.J. Hunsecker: Son, I don't relish shooting a mosquito with an elephant gun, so why don't you just shuffle along?
See more »


Referenced in It's Like, You Know...: The Sweet Smell of Success (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

Oh yes.
11 March 2002 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

"I love this dirty town". "Match me, Sidney". "Maybe I left my sense of humour in my other suit". Great dialogue. Great script, great cinematography, great acting, great music. Christ, what do you want, blood? From the first moment we see Burt Lancaster as the impossibly sinister J.J., we know we're in for a cracking time. There he is, sitting at the restaurant table, wearing those strangely scary glasses, his face expressionless (perhaps he's smiling, just a little bit), talking to Sidney without even looking at him, firing the dialogue like bullets. When the action seeps into the New York streets, oozing menace, there's J.J. - master of all he surveys, twisting cops round his little finger, snarling and seething like some desperate animal. And there is something animal about this film: its characters writhe and twist in the lights and the shadows - demented, tortured creatures, all of them trying to maintain some semblance of normality, all of them aware, deep down, how corrupt and helpless they are. The symbols of goodness - J.J.'s sister and her boyfriend - are weak, pathetic, hopeless, unable to keep up with the neverending twists and turns of this awful labyrinth of manipulation and cruelty. Curtis and Lancaster were never better, and it's awesome to see them play such grotesque yet believable roles. How do people get like this? Where do they go from here? Perhaps it's best not to think about it, and just wallow in the brilliant nastiness of it all, before maybe going home and getting in the shower for a long, long time.

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