Author Topic: Movie of the Week: Sweet Smell of Success (1957)  (Read 2704 times)

Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Movie of the Week: Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2011, 04:55:51 PM »
Billy Wilder wishes he could make a film this good. Discuss.

sdedalus

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Re: Movie of the Week: Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2011, 05:08:58 PM »
I've been meaning to revisit this film. It sits in my memory as a film that's a little too coldly formal for my liking and a little too orchestrated and thematically on point (as Odets tends to be). But I still liked it.

Is that memory accurate, by the way? Is there a Kubrickian feel to the whole thing?

pixote

No, I'm with you 100%.  It's always felt too perfect, too written, too overdetermined to me.  It's not such the screenplay, but the oppressive noir visuals that overdo it.  Whereas a Wes Anderson film can be just as over-written, but he allows enough whimsey in the visual style and soundtrack to lighten things up.
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oneaprilday

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Re: Movie of the Week: Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2011, 08:59:47 PM »
I don't understand the lack of participation.  SSoS and Gaslight got a lot of votes, so where are all the people who voted?  The Babette's Feast discussion was lively, what happened?
Sorry about this.  I have both films, but I just couldn't get to them.  I don't think I'll be able to keep up with the once a week movie + discussion.  I'll just keep hoping to join in when I can.  Hopefully, over Christmas break.

oldkid

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Re: Movie of the Week: Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2011, 04:02:29 PM »
I don't understand the lack of participation.  SSoS and Gaslight got a lot of votes, so where are all the people who voted?  The Babette's Feast discussion was lively, what happened?
Sorry about this.  I have both films, but I just couldn't get to them.  I don't think I'll be able to keep up with the once a week movie + discussion.  I'll just keep hoping to join in when I can.  Hopefully, over Christmas break.

Frankly, I just didn't see the thread.  I've been waiting for this one, and I refuse to admit that I missed the cut off time.  So I'm posting now.  BTW, my opinion about the MotW is to advertise.  Every week-- in a few threads that focus on movies-- remind people of the schedule and let people know what that movie is.  This will be necessary until it is seen as a regular part of FS.  In fact, I'd be happy to do that advertising.

Okay, now, back to the movie.

Honestly, I was stunned by this film.  I've seen Tony Curtis only in comedic roles and I've never seen Burt Lancaster in anything.  Their chemistry, the powerful back and forth underscored by dislike is unique and drawing.  The acting is unlike anything else I've seen in noir or anywhere.  In most noir, the acting is flat, almost to the degree of Jack Webb (with some amazing exceptions, of course).  However, Curtis and Lancaster completely embody these roles: the over-controlling columnist and the pandering agent.  I couldn't take my eyes off of them.

Perhaps I am knowing for disliking movies which only have main characters who are supposed to be disliked.  Certainly these two need to go back to Sunday School or perhaps take a class in business ethics.  Yet there is a charisma in Lancaster and a charm in Curtis-- probably there in every role they play--that deepens these roles, and makes the film hypnotic.

Is the film cold?  I didn't find it so, but this is because I had the hope (false though it is) that Curtis might escape the temptations and find a backbone.  The end was perfect in that it was both unexpected and yet the culmination of the characters we learned to know well.

I recommended this to other movie buffs in my home and they loved it.  As for myself, I will certainly be seeking out other Lancaster films.  5/5
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