Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

« on: November 20, 2011, 06:33:38 AM »

Director: Alexander Mackendrick, Writers: Clifford Odets (screenplay), Ernest Lehman (screenplay), Stars: Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, Barbara Nichols, Martin Milner and Susan Harrison. An excellent Noir. Lancaster and Curtis are superb in their roles as sleazy columnist and press agent respectively who chew up the scenery with colorful dialog. The New York of the fifties is captured perfectly by cinematographer James Wong Howe.

"The Street" (52nd St)

Lancaster plays powerful but unethical Broadway columnist J.J. Hunsecker who based loosely upon real life columnist Walter Winchell who was know as W.W. Anyway, J.J., coerces slimy and unscrupulous press agent Sidney Falco (Curtis) into breaking up his sister's (Susan Harrison) romance with a jazz guitar musician (Milner). 

Barbara Nichols plays Falco's cigarette girl-girlfriend Rita, who Falco pimps off to another columnist in order to plant a derogatory story about Milner. The only two weak links are Milner & Harrison who come off looking lifeless but it's understandable when Lancaster & Curtis dominate every minute they are on the screen.

J.J. and Sydney

Sydney and Rita in cigarette girl costume

Sydney pimping Rita off

Some famous New York nightclubs of the 50's i.e., Toot Shor's, and The Stork Club are shown in exterior location shots and their actual interiors were painstakingly recreated in detail on Hollywood soundstages.

Anyway the pristine Criterion release is the way to go, the first disc has an excellent commentary by film scholar James Naremore. I haven't even cracked disc 2 yet. 

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