Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Real Smell Of Success


The Sweet Smell of Success, Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, 1957

Apparently screenwriters when characterizing Broadway theater critics refuse to touch them with anything less than a cattle prod. At least that has been my recent film review experience after watching All About Eve and its totally cynical critic Addison played superbly by George Saunders. Here we are confronted with the weasel Broadway critic and man about town J.J played by Burt Lancaster ably assisted by press flak Sydney Falco played to a grovelling tee by Tony Curtis.

The story line is a little thin, mainly concerning J.J.'s overweening concern that his very much younger sister does not wind up with some ne'er do well. The tricks, manipulations, and down right skulduggery hatched up by this pair seem all too real to a modern audience who know that fame is fleeting and one better grab it by the neck, fast. More than a few bargains with the devil have been made for that elusive commodity. The tricks played in this film set in 1950's Broadway, however, seem almost like kids stuff compared to the vicious action today. That, my friends, was something of a `golden age' of gentile skulduggery by comparison.

A note on Tony Curtis who on the face of it seems to have been billed as something of a `pretty' boy in his early career. But then you think about the excellent performance here and in Spartacus and in Some Like It Hot and one, including this reviewer, is compelled to start changing one's opinion of the depth of Mr. Curtis's talent.

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