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Saturday, May 7, 2011

STEVE HAYES: Tired Old Queen at the Movies


The seedy underbelly of show business is the business at hand in Alexander McKendrick's SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS starring Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. Based on an original story by Ernest Lehman and a screenplay co-written with Clifford Odets, the film deals with the daily life of J.J. Hunsecker, a sleazy columnist who wields a lot of power and is based on Walter Winchell. As played by Lancaster, Hunsecker is a glowering monster, a menace in black spectacles. Curtis plays press agent Sydney Falco whose life and livelihood depend on his clients getting mentioned regularly in Hunsecker's column. Falco is desperate to be better than he is and will do whatever, to whomever he needs to get where he needs to go. It's a land of perpetual night and constant double crosses. Shot on location in and around Manhattan in the fifties. SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS offers unforgettable characters caught in ever tightening webs of their own design that take them farther and farther away from the one thing they so desperately need and will do anything to get, having their dreams fulfilled.

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