It was a great treat to see The Sweet Smell of Success on the big screen. The plot centers around a famed, powerful and ethically challenged gossip columnist and his cronies. Tony Curtis was beautiful and Elmer Bernstein's music with every scene transition was dramatic but oh so so cool. Burt Lancaster is always awesome and although performances appear a little over-the-top at times, it does give you the impression that sensational journalism and the lengths gone to for a true (or trumped-up) bit of dirt, hasn't changed all that much.
The smart, snappy dialogue by Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman was terrific and really one of my favorite aspects of the film. To me though, the real star of the show is vintage mid-town New York. Shots of the late 1950's Times Square and supper clubs like the '21' Club at it's peak are spectacular, beautiful gems.
Location shooting at it's best. Before the theater district was full of sketchy establishments of the 70's and the Disneyfication of our current decade, it was hip, happening and chic. A time when ladies and gentlemen dressed to go out on the town, where you purchased tobacco from a cigarette girl and you knew the matradee and hat check boy by first name. There's just not too much of it anymore unless it's a kitchy hipster nod to yesteryear. Although I admit I can't speak to much for the good old days since it was indeed before my time, it does look awfully slick especially in black and white celluloid with Burt Lancaster's jaw line,Tony Curtis' smokey eyes and every single character's quick repartee. It's hard not to romanticize.
Lines like when Burt Lancaster's J.J. Hunsecker says "Match me Sydney" or Tony Curtis' Syndey Falco saying "Integrity - acute, like indigestion" are delivered deadpan and rapid fire, as only dialogue like that should.
The Film Forum's The Newspaper Picture's last screening in the series is this Thursday.