Sweet Smell of Success

  • Wed Nov 6
Sweet Smell of Success

introduced by New York Times film critic A. O. Scott

Alexander Mackendrick
Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis

"Sweet Smell of Success, one of the most important and underrated films ever made, has finally achieved the stature of a classic.... Pauline Kael and Martin Scorsese are ardent fans....Why all the attention? Well for one thing, it’s a great story. All-powerful Manhattan gossip columnist J.J. Hunsecker (Lancaster) enlists the aid of success-crazed press agent Sidney Falco (Curtis) in breaking up the romance between his sister, Susan (Harrison), and a young, clean-cut jazz guitarist, Steve Dallas (Milner)... As the drama’s tidal wave gathers force, we are distracted by hustle-bustle action, surprising double-crosses within double-crosses, and amazing dialogue. Baroque and epigrammatic, a steamy bouillabaisse of wise-guy argot, neologisms, and twisted clichés, the lines flash by like carnival knives—and just as often hit their mark. Some critics have said no one ever talked that way. True. People only wish they could.” (Richard Blackburn, American Film) With a script by Clifford Odets, a superb jazz score by Elmer Bernstein and first-rate work from famed cinematographer James Wong Howe.

DCP bw
1 hour 56 minutes
release year/country
1957 USA