“You’re a cookie full of arsenic.”
New York Broadway, late 1950s: An utterly ruthless newspaper columnist coerces a unscrupulous press agent to destroy his kid sister’s relationship with a musician.
Broadway is a jungle. There is only the conquerors and the conquered – the powerful strut amongst the glamour and the neon, and the weak are mercilessly exploited and occasionally devoured… to a tantalizing Jazz soundtrack. That Sweet Smell Of Success is as a searing tale of power and human corruption as was ever put to film, is perhaps all the more surprising when considered where it is set. Burt Lancaster is excellent as the towering embodiment of self-serving malevolence, J.J. Hunsecker, the all powerful newspaper columnist trying to keep control his sister’s life. Ruthlessly Intelligent and armed with a lacerating tongue, he dispenses his justice in a brutal fashion – careers, even lives, hang on his every whim.Tony Curtis contributes a wonderfully oily performance as the venal, double-talking sycophantic press agent who is willing to go to any extremes to climb up the greasy pole of success. The sheer effrontery of some of the human behaviour on display makes Sweet Smell Of Success such a feast to enjoy. Some of the best black and white cinematography of an urban space ever by James Wong Howe , the great jazzy score by Elmer Bernstein, and expressive direction by Alexander Mackendrick are only topped off by the bravura whiplash dialogue of Ernest Lehman and Clifford Odets.
“You’re dead, son. Get yourself buried.”