Rent Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

4.0 of 5 from 155 ratings
1h 33min
Rent Sweet Smell of Success Online DVD & Blu-ray Rental
  • General info
  • Available formats
Synopsis:
A powerful film about a ruthless journalist and an unscrupulous press agent who'll do anything to achieve success, this fascinating, compelling story crackles with taut direction and whiplash dialogue. Bristling with vivid performances by Curtis and Lancaster, this gutsy expose of big-city corruption is a timeless classic that cuts deep and sends a chilling message. It's late at night in the steamy, neon-lit streets of New York's Times Square, and everything's buzzing with nervous energy. But press agent Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis) is oblivious to the whirlwind of street vendors, call girls and con men bustling around him as he nervously waits for the early edition of The Globe.
Whose career did gossip columnist J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster) launch today… and whose did he destroy?
Actors:
, , , , , , Joe Frisco, , , , The Chico Hamilton Quintet
Directors:
Writers:
Clifford Odets, Ernest Lehman
Studio:
MGM
Genres:
Classics, Drama
BBFC:
Release Date:
15/04/2002
Run Time:
93 minutes
Languages:
English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono, French Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono, German Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono, Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono, Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
Subtitles:
Danish, Dutch, English Hard of Hearing, French, German Hard of Hearing, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Formats:
Pal
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 1.66:1
Colour:
B & W
Bonus:
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
BBFC:
Release Date:
30/03/2015
Run Time:
96 minutes
Languages:
English LPCM Mono
Subtitles:
English Hard of Hearing
Formats:
Pal
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 1.66:1
Colour:
B & W
BLU-RAY Regions:
B
Bonus:
  • Appreciation by critic and film historian Philip Kemp, author of Lethal Innocence: The Cinema of Alexander Mackendrick
  • Selected scene commentary by Philip Kemp
  • Mackendrick: The Man Who Walked Away - Dermot Mcduarrie's 1986 Scottish Television documentary, featuring interviews with Mackendrick, Burt Lancaster, producer James Hill and many others
  • Theatrical trailer

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Reviews (1) of Sweet Smell of Success

Actors' Film. - Sweet Smell of Success review by Steve

Spoiler Alert
Updated 15/11/2021

The film begins like a typical late fifties film noir as Elmer Bernstein's big band scores a familiar montage of the neon lit streets of Manhattan. Then, with the seeming magic of originality, James Wong Howe picks up his camera and, wanders through the avenues and backstreets, clubs and theatres of Broadway. This location tracking was completely new for film noir and it looks fabulous.

Despite the corrupted humanity on show, and the noir aesthetic, there is no legal crime.  JJ Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster) controls Broadway through his popular newspaper column and the secrets he holds over its players. He owns press agent Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis) because Falco needs the column. In turn the agents court Falco for his access to Hunsecker.

The screenplay was written by Clifford Odets, the liberal who named names to HUAC. The cynical showbiz food chain of Broadway represents the iniquities of capital and politics. The big cat feeds on the vulnerable minions of the neon jungle. Hunsecker has an unspoken incestuous obsession with his sister and leans Falco to break her engagement to a jazz guitarist

Manhattan is controlled by the syndicate which means Hunsecker, a populist with a god-complex who brazenly drums out his phoney patriotics and dares anyone to demur. He has a logo which gives him the eyes of Big Brother. This is the ultimate film that has no one to root for, and offers no sweeteners at the fade out. It is an intelligent, artistic work of overwhelming pessimism.

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