Sweet Smell of Success

(dir. A MacKendrick) (1957)

Great late melodrama, Lancaster rarely better, Tony Curtis never better. “I’d hate to take a bite out of you. You’re a cookie full of arsenic.” The sparse camera direction would gladden David Stratton’s heart, only producing the odd flourish where it enhances the scene (e.g. in “21”, where the camera’s eye swings from Manny Davis to Miss James and cuts back to J.J. Hunsecker, who is saying that every hep person knows that “ This one is toting that one around for you.” ).


[NB: Vale Martin Milner, R.I.P. 6/9/2015, who was stout but dull as Steve Dallas in Sweet Smell of Success but nevertheless radiated the stony integrity necessary to the plot (as JJ Hunsecker observed, “Serious as a deacon, I like it – I like it fine.”)  Marty did not, alas, go on to better things – he was adequate as Wyatt Earp’s brother in Gunfight at O.K. Corral but after Sex Kittens Go To College and Valley of the Dolls, he wisely wound up the film career and went profitably into TV.]





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