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In the swift, cynical Sweet Smell of Success, directed by Alexander Mackendrick (The Ladykillers), Burt Lancaster (Brute Force, The Leopard) stars as barbaric Broadway gossip columnist J. J. Hunsecker, and Tony Curtis (Some Like It Hot, Spartacus) as Sidney Falco, the unprincipled press agent he ropes into smearing the up-and-coming jazz musician romancing his beloved sister. Featuring deliciously unsavory dialogue in an acid, brilliantly structured script by Clifford Odets (Notorious, Bigger Than Life) and Ernest Lehman (North by Northwest, The Sound of Music) and noirish neon cityscapes from Oscar-winning cinematographer James Wong Howe (The Thin Man, Yankee Doodle Dandy), Sweet Smell of Success is a cracklingly cruel dispatch from the kill-or-be-killed wilds of 1950s Manhattan.
SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition • New audio commentary by film scholar James Naremore • Mackendrick: The Man Who Walked Away, a 1986 documentary featuring interviews with director Alexander Mackendrick, actor Burt Lancaster, producer James Hill, and more • James Wong Howe: Cinematographer, a 1973 documentary about the Oscar-winning director of photography, featuring lighting tutorials with Howe • New video interview with film critic and historian Neil Gabler (Winchell: Gossip, Power and the Culture of Celebrity) about legendary columnist Walter Winchell, inspiration for the character J. J. Hunsecker • New video interview with filmmaker James Mangold about Mackendrick, his instructor and mentor • Original theatrical trailer • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Gary Giddins, two short stories by Ernest Lehman featuring the characters from the film, notes about the film by Lehman, and an excerpt from Mackendrick’s book On Film-making
Criterion's two-disc treatment of Sweet Smell of Success is the kind of tasteful assembly befitting a classic--even if this particular classic was a little slow in being acknowledged as one. A definitive digital restoration of the film is accompanied by James Naremore's informative commentary track and Gary Giddins's affectionate essay, the latter in a smart little booklet designed to evoke the tabloid spirit of the kind of newspaper J.J. Hunsecker might write for. This also contains two stories, by screenwriter Ernest Lehman, that introduced gossip columnist Hunsecker and press agent Sidney Falco to the world, plus an excerpt from On Filmmaking, by Alexander Mackendrick, in which the director recalls the impact of Clifford Odets's rewrite of the script.
The second disc offers new half-hour video interviews with biographer Neal Gabler (speaking with authority and insight about Walter Winchell, the lightly disguised model for Hunsecker) and director James Mangold, who remembers the lessons he learned studying film at CalArts with Mackendrick as teacher. A 44-minute TV portrait of Mackendrick from 1986, The Man Who Walked Away, provides a close look at his films, his flinty personality, and his decision to leave filmmaking for teaching. James Coburn and Burt Lancaster are among those paying tribute, and Lancaster calmly recalls firing Mackendrick from the director's chair on The Devil's Disciple, the film they were to make after Sweet Smell. A 21-minute featurette from 1973, James Wong Howe--Cinematographer, gives a glimpse of the great director of photography as he explains a few basics about his craft. For more on that, just watch Sweet Smell of Success. --Robert Horton
Excellent noir film about a gossip columnist in New York City in the 1950 on their private and personal lives and how they intertwine to an astounding degree. Well worth watching. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Moira Lauren
Well acted! Curtis & Lancaster act well together (like in Trapeze). Excellent quality movie.Published 9 months ago by R.R
In “The Sweet Smell Of Success” movie,Burt Lancaster and Sidney Falco star as two men (characters of Sidney Falco and J.J. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Stella Carrier
Un grand film de Mackendrick, avec des Curtis et et Lancaster très confrontants qui nous offrent de grandes performances d acteurs dans une cite qui semble ne pas laisser... Read morePublished on Dec 24 2012 by Luigi
Sweet Smell of Success is one of my personal favorites, and in my opinion, this is one of the best Blu-Rays I have purchased. Read morePublished on April 25 2011 by Rinjin
One of the problems with studying in film school, being a movie buff and getting older is that at some point in ones' life a man ventures into the video store, peruses the shelves... Read morePublished on July 16 2004 by Steven Travers
The dialogue moves along so fast, and the plot is so sketchy, that I had a difficult time understanding it. Read morePublished on June 22 2004 by R. A POKATILOFF
I was stunned when I watched this film, and it's been a while since that's happened. The script, the acting, the cinematography are all dazzling. Read morePublished on May 24 2004