Newest Review: ... the agent to intrude and dissuade the couple from continuing their relationship. What ensues is a tense noir style drama with high emotion... more
The smell of media dominance in the 50s
Sweet Smell of Success (DVD)
Member Name: pmcds
Sweet Smell of Success (DVD)
Advantages: Curtis, Lancaster, dialogue and script, noir style
Disadvantages: Nothing for me
The only thing Hunsecker cares about is his little sister, and when he hears that a small time musician in a band is after her affections, he looks for a way to scare him off. Falco is in desperate need of Hunsecker's column inches and so the media tycoon uses this to his advantage, pressing the agent to intrude and dissuade the couple from continuing their relationship. What ensues is a tense noir style drama with high emotions that relies immensely on a powerful dialogue to see it through. The thing is that the plot itself doesn't have the depth or drive to be a great, and the reliance on other factors is one of those dangerous moments where you do genuinely think that if the actors don't carry it off then it's a flop.
Luckily it delivers. The script for the dialogue is genius, with the casting of Lancaster and Curtis even moreso. The two actos are supremely comfortable in their roles, with the former cutting a dashing figure with his chiseled looks and square shoulders, a pair of dark rimmed glasses adding to the firm exterior to portray a man not to mess with; and the latter showing his utmost in terms of charm and suave abilities on screen in order to project the smooth and vibrant press agent down on his luck but still with a smile and a promise to try and persuade people to his ways.
The difference between the two is clearly their social status. While Hunsecker is respected within the community for who he is and what power he has, Falco has burnt too many bridges and broken too many promises for anyone to touch. His business nouse deserts him all too often and he is clearly in need of a lucky break, while the self made sure thing Hunsecker just sits back and plays him like a puppet on a string. This difference gets all too important later on in the film when the sister's relationship comes more to the fore, with us as the viewers clearly able to side with Falco despite nothing going his way. But with this niggle there's a certain sense of karma - as a distrustworthy press agent, you almost feel as if he's just getting his come uppance from his errant ways, and the only thing stopping this feeling and heightening the preference for him to come out on top is the sheer male dominance that Hunsecker shows towards pretty much everyone, but especially towards his sister, who is completely downtrodden by him as if he was her father and it was earlier in the century or even a previous era altogether.
This dislike towards Hunsecker propels Falco into an unwilling hero in our eyes, and as we follow the film, we see both sides of the story, the interaction between all the characters and how it all unfolds before the ending. It's powerfully made, with exceptional dialogue and trusting acting that allows the two stars to show just how good they really are. I thought that the noir style added a bit of suspense to the film, and enabled a bit more drama to be forced upon us, the music and filming angles all adding to the atmosphere. By the time the credits rolled, I was certainly ready for the film to end. This doesn't mean that it was disappointing or starting to drag, but that it was the right time for the end, judged just right.
Very well made film, and one I'd certainly recommend. Clever dialogue is likely to keep you focused and interested throughout, with the two lead actors excelling as you'd expect them to.
Summary: Top press focused noir drama - all about the dialogue