Sweet Smell of Success

Director - Alexander Mackendrick

Genre - Drama/Film-Noir

Screenwriters would give their arms and legs for the gift of being able to pen the precision sharp lines in this film. No time or cinema reel were wasted here as barrage after barrage of 'quick on the feet' dialogue takes center stage, spewed almost unceasingly out of the characters' arsenic lips. Tony Curtis plays a press agent named Sidney Falco who has to depend on a spiteful, arrogant columnist (J.J. Hunsecker) played by Burt Lancaster as his meal ticket. When Sidney is asked to do J.J. a favor which compromises Sidney's already thinning view of honor and integrity, what will he choose? They say money is the root of all evil and this movie certainly went out of its way to show how low some of us can stoop to gain a whiff of success. Tony Curtis shrugged off his pretty boy image (this was a different era, mind you) to play a scheming, no good hammerhead and Lancaster exuded an even more despicable great white shark. Together, they represent a hunger for capitalism and a disgust of moral justice. That is actually the crux of the story and the lesson of never giving up our humanity no matter what reverberates even to this day.


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it is really a sweet smell i love this post and this movie also so much
Thanks for your comment.
joe said…
The socialist flavored heroism of the Jazz guitarist and the McCarthyite themes notwithstanding, its not a critique of Capitalism- does the writer imagine that people are less venial or exploitative or ruthless under different forms of economic arrangement?
To see this film this way diminishes its message about human frailty and corruption.
We think it is a commentary of how idealism and good values are snuffed out by those who are privileged, those who use those exact privileges to burn the dreams of others. People with authority or who are more financially blessed can do more damage than people without though, don't you think? Most Americans we would like to believe, didn't really want to be involved in wars. It is those in power and with privileges who choose to start wars. With that in mind, if the movie did portray the rich as assholes, so what? It doesn't say all of them are like that. It doesn't diminish the film at all. We can have different views of how the world works. What we were interested in was the story, not the politics of it.

Thanks you for your insightful comment Joe. It really made us think.