Sweet Smell of Success

Title: Sweet Smell of Success
Year: 1957
Director: Alexander Mackendrick
Writer: Clifford Odets & Ernest Lehman, based on the novella by Ernest Lehman
Starring: Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, Susan Harrison, Martin Milner
Music: Elmer Bernstein
Distinctions: currently #224 on the IMDb’s Top 250
Synopsis: a slime-ball newspaper gossip-monger schemes to control his sister’s life
How I saw it: on video (rented from Netflix), March 2008
Subjective Rating: 3/10 (Bad).
Objective Rating: 4/10 (gets points for story, dialog, pacing and music) c. 2.5/4 (Okay).

A character-driven story in which the characters are not even remotely likable. There’s depth to them, and they are not meant to be likable, but I need to relate to somebody or something if I’m going to give a crap about the movie. The plot is okay, with lots of twists and turns and intrigue. They had a lot of fun with the dialog (“I’d hate to take a bite outta you. You’re a cookie full of arsenic.”), although the delivery is typical classic Hollywood shoot-the-lines-out-as-fast-as-possible. Overall it just struck me as unexceptional film-making.


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