8.1/10
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Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

Approved | | Drama, Film-Noir | 4 July 1957 (USA)
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Powerful but unethical Broadway columnist J.J. Hunsecker coerces unscrupulous press agent Sidney Falco into breaking up his sister's romance with a jazz musician.

Writers:

Clifford Odets (screenplay), Ernest Lehman (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Burt Lancaster ... J.J. Hunsecker
Tony Curtis ... Sidney Falco
Susan Harrison ... Susan Hunsecker
Martin Milner ... Steve Dallas (as Marty Milner)
Jeff Donnell ... Sally
Sam Levene ... Frank D' Angelo
Joe Frisco ... Herbie Temple
Barbara Nichols ... Rita
Emile Meyer ... Lt. Harry Kello
Edith Atwater ... Mary
The Chico Hamilton Quintet ... The Chico Hamilton Quintet
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Storyline

J.J. Hunsecker, the most powerful newspaper columnist in New York, is determined to prevent his sister from marrying Steve Dallas, a jazz musician. He therefore covertly employs Sidney Falco, a sleazy and unscrupulous press agent, to break up the affair by any means possible. Written by David Levene <D.S.Levene@durham.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Lie for it...cheat for it...drink to it...the sweet, sweet smell of success! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 July 1957 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Sweet Smell of Success See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,400,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$7,336
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to TCM's Eddie Muller, Walter Winchell was delighted that this film bombed at the box office. And, at a preview showing of the picture, an audience member commented "Don't change a thing, just burn all the prints". See more »

Goofs

In opening sequence, when Sidney buys a newspaper, then lays it out on luncheonette counter to read it, configuration of stories and graphics on page don't match newspaper seen in closeup. See more »

Quotes

J.J. Hunsecker: Yes, Sidney. You sound happy, Sidney. Why should you be happy when I'm not? How do you spell Picasso, the painter? One S or two?
Sidney Falco: Two.
See more »

Crazy Credits

introducing Susan Harrison See more »

Connections

Featured in The 83rd Annual Academy Awards (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Cynical look at how power corrupts...brilliant performances...
3 December 2006 | by DoylenfSee all my reviews

BURT LANCASTER was at the height of his illustrious film career when he played J.J. Hunsecker, the Broadway gossip columnist who dipped his pen in poison to destroy careers. TONY CURTIS was a long way from the days when he was ridiculed for saying "Yonda is the castle of my fadder" in films like SON OF ALI BABA and THE BLACK SHIELD OF FALWORTH.

Here, Curtis is every bit up to the chore of playing the slavishly obedient but hateful publicity man who seems to be fawning over Lancaster, but really despises him. Two towering performances in a film with some of the sharpest exchanges of dialog ever heard.

The cruel side of show biz gets full and rich observation from screenwriter Clifford Odets from a novel by Ernest Lehman. The bright lights of Broadway play against the rainswept streets of Broadway and Times Square, a shadowy sort of film noir background for the brutal story being told.

The story abounds in quotable moments, such as when Lancaster tells Curtis, "You're a cookie full of arsenic." The jazz score background sets the appropriate mood for a story as cynical as this, and the twists and turns of the plot will keep you hooked until the uncertain ending. The main plot line has Lancaster opposed to his sister's suitor, a jazz musician (MARTIN MILNER) and his efforts to get this man out of his sister's life with the help of his obedient slave.

But mainly, this is a film worth savoring to watch the intense performances of Lancaster and Curtis. I doubt whether either of them has ever done better work. For Lancaster, it only cemented his reputation as a man already judged to be a fine actor in the right role. For Curtis, it made film critics take this "pretty boy from Brooklyn" seriously for the first time and was the first big milestone in his budding film career.


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