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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sweet Smell Of Success (1957)

An ambitious amoral press agent (Tony Curtis) kowtows to a venomous but powerful New York newspaper columnist (Burt Lancaster) in order to get items on his clients in the paper. They're both rotten birds of a feather but a romance between the columnist's sister (Susan Harrison) and a musician (Martin Milner) will prove fateful to both men. Directed by Alexander Mackendrick (MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT) from a screenplay by Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman based on Lehman's short novel. Simply put, this is a great movie! The razor sharp screenplay with Odets' pungent dialog, James Wong Howe's beautiful B&W cinematography, Elmer Bernstein's pulsating underscore and an impeccable cast all the way down the line make this one of the seminal New York films. The film was not a success when first released but it has since attained the status of a classic. In 1957, audiences must have been taken aback by tight wound up acidic performance by Lancaster who usually played kinetic physical characters and fans of then heartthrob Curtis must have been taken for a loop by the reprehensible sleazy character he betrayed. Both actors are in brilliant form here but even the minor characters are etched with detail. Lancaster refers to Curtis as a "cookie full of arsenic" and that might be an appropriate description of the film. With Barbara Nichols, Jeff Donnell, Sam Levene, Emile Meyer, Lurene Tuttle and Edith Atwater.   

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