Sweet Smell of Success

The New York media ecosystem in the 1950s, seen here through famed cinematographer James Wong Howe’s expressive lens and left-wing screenwriter Clifford Odets’s cracked vision, was a cutthroat world in which men would do anything to succeed, freely tossing morals and ethics aside. In this context, Lancaster seethes as high-profile gossip columnist and blackmail artist extraordinaire J.J. Hunsecker. He enlists Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis), a down-on-his-luck press agent, to do his bidding when Hunsecker decides that the man dating his sister (Susan Harrison) is no good. Falco resists until Hunsecker makes him an offer he can’t pass up: to take over Hunsecker’s wildly popular gossip column. “The film stands as the record of one of the most convincing and closely observed symbiotic relationships in the movies. Hunsecker and Falco. You can’t have one without the other.”—Roger Ebert.

Appears in: Forever Burt

Genres: Drama, Film Noir

Other Films by Alexander Mackendrick


The Ladykillers

Mackendrick’s delightful black comedy finds Alec Guiness and his fumbling gang of crooks (Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom, and Cecil Parker) set up in a rented room to plan a robbery. The elderly homeowner becomes unwittingly involved and, try as they may to knock her off, they succeed instead to fall victim, one by one, to


The Man in the White Suit

In this light-hearted satire rich in comic twists, Alec Guiness plays a daffy inventor-chemist who concocts a miraculous fabric that will not soil, stain, or wear out. When the cloth industry discovers his revolutionary invention, he becomes a marked man. Mackendrick’s witty and original film takes on big business, labor, science, and consumer culture with