Sweet Smell of Success
Dir. Alexander Mackendrick. 1957, 96 mins. DCP. With Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis. One of the great New York movies of the 1950s, Sweet Smell of Success pits Lancaster’s ruthless columnist J. J. Hunsecker against Curtis’s desperate publicist Sidney Falco in a noirish, pitch-dark morality play. The whip-smart script by Clifford Odets is rightly famous, but just as essential is the black-and-white photography by James Wong Howe, a nightmarish riot of light and darkness, much of it filmed on location in New York. Preceded by Daybreak Express (1953, 5 mins, 35mm), D. A. Pennebaker’s soaring homage to the Third Avenue El, set to music by Duke Ellington.
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