Sweet Smell of Success | Chicago Reader

Sweet Smell of Success

The characters of Alexander Mackendrick's 1957 Manhattan melodrama look as if they'd melt if exposed to sunlight. Burt Lancaster, a nightclub columnist, wants to break up his sister's engagement for not entirely noble reasons; he blackmails a nickel-and-dime press agent (Tony Curtis) into taking care of the dirty work. Clifford Odets's dialogue (“I love this dirty town!”) is a drawback, but Mackendrick's nighthawk landscape is compellingly, poetically bleak. With Martin Milner, Sam Levene, and Barbara Nichols; photographed by James Wong Howe.


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