Sweet Smell of Success (1957)



Critic Consensus: Sweet Smell of Success boasts a top-notch cast, sharp direction, atmospheric cinematography, and an appropriately jazzy score, making it one of the best noir crime thrillers ever made.

Sweet Smell of Success Videos & Photos

Movie Info

J.J. Hunsecker, a powerful New York newspaper columnist, is dead set against his sister's marrying a jazz musician. Sidney Falco, a sleazy PR man, will do anything to get publicity for his clients, and he sees Hunsecker's situation as an opportunity to win the writer's favor. So, he sets out to break up the affair anyway he can.

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Clifford Odets, Ernest Lehman
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 19, 2001
United Artists

Watch it now


as J.J. Hunsecker

as Sidney Falco

as Susan Hunsecker

as Steve Dallas

as D'Angelo

as Harry Kello

as Herbie Temple

as Leo Bartha

as Mrs. Bartha

as Mildred Tam

as Manny Davis

as Al Evans
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Sweet Smell of Success

Friend Ratings

No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.


Critic Reviews for Sweet Smell of Success

All Critics (47) | Top Critics (9)

Sweet Smell, which could have been offal, is raised to considerable dramatic heights by intense acting, taut direction (by Alexander Mackendrick), [and] superb camera work (by James Wong Howe).

Full Review… | April 21, 2009
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Mackendrick's nighthawk landscape is compellingly, poetically bleak.

Full Review… | April 21, 2009
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

James Hill's production, locationed in Manhattan, captures the feel of Broadway and environs after dark.

Full Review… | July 22, 2008
Top Critic

The screen was rarely so dark or cruel.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

New York never looked as thrillingly sordid as it does in this scabrous masterpiece.

Full Review… | April 9, 2015
Times [UK]

[VIDEO ESSAY] Here lies the defective foundation of the American Dream as viewed from an implicitly American viewpoint - Bert Lancaster's company produced the film.

Full Review… | December 2, 2013

Audience Reviews for Sweet Smell of Success

A double-barrelled shotgun in the face of celebrity press and American societal values itself, the film snaps, crackles, and pops with its depiction of a Broadway publicist's crawl to the top and what he does to get there. Curtis and Lancaster make Darth Vader and Hannibal Lector seem like Disney friends.

Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

The word tense doesn't even begin to describe Alexander Mackendrick's psychologically unsettling masterpiece Sweet Smell of Success. Carrying perhaps the best performances of both Burt Lancaster's and Tony Curtis' careers, the film is a brilliant take on the real life persona of Walter Winchell, but also, a personal journey for its two leads. At the end of the film, Lancaster's character loses his only living thread to humanity and Sidney Falco, as played by Curtis, loses in his fight to get ahead and pays for all of his wrongdoings. It's such a fantastic work from beginning to end. You can cut the tension in the story with a knife. I sat with a sick feeling in my stomach the entire time and was relieved at the end. Few films have ever done that to me.

Tim Salmons

Super Reviewer

About as hard edged as a movie can be. As a look at a group of venal people it can't be beat but this is a very loathsome group so spending any time with them could never be described as a pleasant experience. Burt and Tony both give outstanding performances, the whole cast is very fine, but the wonderful Barbara Nichols stands out in her brief scenes as a sad sweet girl who has been treated badly by life, one of the few people in the picture who engenders any sympathy.

jay nixon

Super Reviewer

Sweet Smell of Success Quotes

– Submitted by John L (2 years ago)
– Submitted by John L (2 years ago)
– Submitted by John L (2 years ago)
– Submitted by John L (2 years ago)

Discussion Forum

Discuss Sweet Smell of Success on our Movie forum!