In Alexander Mackendrick’s swift, cynical Sweet Smell of Success, Burt Lancaster stars as barbaric Broadway gossip columnist J. J. Hunsecker, and Tony Curtis as Sidney Falco, the unprincipled press agent he ropes into smearing the up-and-coming jazz musician romancing his beloved sister. Featuring deliciously unsavory dialogue in an acid, brilliantly structured script by Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman and noirish neon cityscapes from Oscar-winning cinematographer James Wong Howe, Sweet Smell of Success is a cracklingly cruel dispatch from the kill-or-be-killed wilds of 1950s Manhattan. –The Criterion Collection
Gifted director whose films are marked by fine writing and acting and who is best known for his ingenious Ealing comedies. Born to Scottish parents in the US and raised in Scotland, Mackendrick worked in advertising and then made propaganda shorts during WWII. In 1946 he joined Ealing Studios, co-writing a number of Basil Dearden movies before making his directing debut with the comedy classic “Whisky Galore/Tight Little Island” (1949). It was followed by several other sharply observed, often darkly satirical comedies, such as the brilliant “The Man in the White Suit” (1951) and the equally memorable “The Ladykillers” (1955), both starring Alec Guinness and both superb examples of the dry, adult, yet farcical Ealing style.
Mackendrick’s ability to elicit outstanding performances from his actors, particularly children, is displayed in the wonderful study of the teaching of a deaf girl, “Mandy/Crash of Silence” (1952) and in the lesser but enjoyable adventure saga, “A High Wind… read more
"Come back, Sidney, I wanna chastise you!" This is quickly becoming one of my favorite films of all time.
The Austin Film Festival opens for a full week today and the Chronicle's nifty package includes Marjorie Baumgarten's piece on Sweet Smell
"Tony Curtis, one of the last great stars of Hollywood's golden age, died yesterday aged 85," reports the Guardian's Xan Brooks. "The death
Easily one of the greatest scripts ever filmed, every line perfectly in sync with the line before it and a dazzling display of the screenwriters art from Ernest Lehman and Clifford Odets. ‘Sweet Smell… read review
I must admit, the first 15 minutes of the film were completely lost on me and I had no idea what was going on. Of course, I relished in seeing Curtis and Lancaster on the screen but the storyline took… read review
If ever there were a film that showed the truth behind the phrase, “The pen is mightier than the sword” it would be this one. It’s a film that leaves you at the end, of its short runtime, to marinate… read review