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Sweet Smell of Success (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-Ray]

Burt Lancaster , Tony Curtis , Alexander Mackendrick    Unrated   Blu-ray
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
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Product Description


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

Product Description

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

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Puissant effet Dec 24 2012
By Luigi
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
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 place a a compassion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By J. Lovins TOP 50 REVIEWER
The Criterion Collection presents "SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS" (27 June 1957) (96 min/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) -- Burt Lancaster stars as J. J. Hunsecker, a Walter Winchell-style columnist who wields his power like a club, steamrolling friends and enemies alike --- Tony Curtis co-stars as Sidney Falco, a sycophantic press agent who'd sell his grandmother to get an item into Hunsecker's popular newspaper column --- Hunsecker enlists Falco's aid in ruining the reputation of jazz guitarist Steve Dallas (Martin Milner), who has had the temerity to court Hunsecker's sister Susan (Susan Harrison) --- Falco contrives to plant marijuana on Dallas, then summons corrupt, sadistic NYPD officer Harry Kello (Emile Meyer), who owes Hunsecker several favors, to arrest the innocent singer.
A sharp-edged, penetrating film, Sweet Smell of Success is now regarded as a model of street-smart cinematic cynicism --- The electric performances of the stars are matched by the taut direction of Alex MacKendrick, the driving jazz score of Elmer Bernstein, and the evocative nocturnal camera work of James Wong Howe.

Under the production staff of:
Alexander Mackendrick [Director]
Writers:Clifford Odets [Screenwriter]
Ernest Lehman [Screenwriter]
James Hill [Producer]
Elmer Bernstein [Original Film Score]
James Wong Howe [Cinematographer]
Edward Carrere [Art Director]

1. Alexander Mackendrick [Director]
Date of Birth: 8 September 1912 - Boston, Massachusetts
Date of Death: 22 December 1993 - Los Angeles, California

2. Burt Lancaster
Date of Birth: 2 November 1913 - New York City, New York
Date of Death: 20 October 1994 - Century City, California

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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent Blu-Ray of an excellent film. April 25 2011
By Rinjin
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. For a great review of the film himself, I would direct prospective buyers to Roger Ebert's review, on his Chicago Sun-Times website.

This Blu-Ray features the film itself with a beautiful high-def transfer, cleaned audio, a wealth of extras, and a hefty 56-page booklet. The cardboard packaging is very nice as well. This release upholds the Criterion Collection's very high standards admirably.

Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing May 25 2004
By A Customer
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. Why this isn't mentioned in the same breath as "The Third Man" is unforgivable. Even the score is wonderful. Also, the film demands a second viewing because there is far to much to take in. Watching it I was reminded of "Citizen Kane," "Sunset Boulevard," "The Third Man," and maybe a little Godard (maybe the look of "Alphaville"?). The film really feels like it exists in a time and place, oozing atmosphere. The only downside to the film and dvd is that some of the scenes were not restored quite as well as others, but this is an excusable oversight, considering the shimmering quality of the rest of the film and one can only hope for a special edition or criterion release in the future with commentary by a film critic or two.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "You're a cookie filled with arsenic." Jan. 13 2004
By Cubist
Sweet Smell of Success is not only an example of a quintessential film noir, it is also a quintessential movie about New York City. As J.J. Hunsecker puts it so well, "I love this dirty town." This is a tough, gritty, uncompromising film with dialogue that crackles and pops (in some respects, David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross is a homage to this movie) with intensity as the various characters trade barbs with each other.
The film belongs to Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster. Both were huge stars at the time and cast themselves against type in this movie. Naturally, the film tanked when it was released but it has since become a much admired and imitated film (Oliver Stone has said that a lot of his movie, Wall Street, was inspired by Sweet Smell). Curtis is note perfect as a slimy agent who'll do anything to get his clients promoted and climb the social ladder. This puts him at odds with the most powerful columnist in the city--J.J. Hunsecker, played by Lancaster. J.J. can kill careers with a few words and it is this power that makes him such a dangerous person.
The film also features stunning black and white cinematography that is moody and atmospheric. New York City has never looked so dark and foreboding. The camerawork is rich and textured and it is fascinating to see a New York City that just doesn't exist anymore. Watching this film is like stepping into a time machine.
The DVD is a bit of letdown. The transfer could be better. I noticed scratches and dirt on the print. And the lack of extras is unexcusable. C'mon, a retrospective documentary with film historians and Tony Curtis (who is still alive) would've been nice. The studio really dropped the ball in that respect. A classic like this one deserves more respect.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars "AN APPLE MADE OF ARSENIC."
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 more
Published on July 16 2004 by Steven Travers
2.0 out of 5 stars HARD TO TELL WHAT'S GOING ON.
The dialogue moves along so fast, and the plot is so sketchy, that I had a difficult time understanding it. Read more
Published on June 22 2004 by R. A POKATILOFF
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute power corrupts absolutely
Since I really despise long-winded, puffed up pseudo-intellectual reviews, I'll keep this simple. This flick is INTENSE! Read more
Published on Jan. 24 2004 by The Raven
5.0 out of 5 stars The pen is deadlier than the sword
J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster) writes a newspaper column that 42 million people read. He deals mainly with two kinds of persons: those who would give anything to be mentioned in... Read more
Published on Nov. 28 2003 by Eva25at
4.0 out of 5 stars Two Great Shows of Ruthlessness
Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis) is a ruthlessly ambitious publicist in New York City of 1957. He relies upon the city's most powerful gossip columnist, J.J. Read more
Published on Nov. 10 2003 by mirasreviews
2.0 out of 5 stars a grossly overpraised dud
I'd heard a lot of positive things about this picture for a long time from people whose opinions I value, and as a consequence I looked forward to finally seeing "Sweet Smell of... Read more
Published on Nov. 1 2003 by Hugo 77
5.0 out of 5 stars Chomp chomp chew chew spit
Chewing up and spitting out the reputations of those he doesn't favour, the columnist extraordinaire JJ Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster) is one of the greatest portraits of the use and... Read more
Published on Nov. 1 2003 by Ian Muldoon
1.0 out of 5 stars Movie is in the wrong aspect ratio !
I saw a newly restored print of "The Sweet Smell of Success" (1957) at the Chauvel Cinemas in Sydney on the weekend. Read more
Published on Sept. 29 2003 by P. Longworth
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