Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
Director: Alexander Mackendrick
The screenplay was written by Clifford Odets, Ernest Lehman and Mackendrick from the novelette by Lehman.
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, Susan Harrison, Chico Hamilton
Photographed by James Wong Howe
Music by Elmer Bernstein / Chico Hamilton Quintet
Sweet Smell of Success is an American film noir about the exploits of Sidney Falco, an ambitious press agent played by Tony Curtis. Falco desperately wants to stay in the favor of J.J. Hunsecker, a powerful Broadway columnist, played by Burt Lancaster and allegedly modeled after the legendary media maven Walter Winchell. Hunsecker, who has an almost incestuous-seeming attachment to his younger sister, orders Falco to destroy her relationship with a jazz guitarist.
Jazz figures in Sweet Smell of Success both as a soundtrack and as a cultural signifier. Drummer Chico Hamilton‘s West Coast jazz quintet cameos in several night-club scenes in the film, with actor Martin Milner taking the role of regular guitarist John Pisano. Hamilton’s group, which included cello, flute and guitar as key elements of its sound, was often referred to as ‘chamber jazz.’ The film also features a crime-jazzy score by Elmer Bernstein.
Sweet Smell of Success
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