Sweet Smell of Success


Sweet Smell of Success

Critics 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.



Total Count: 48


Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,919
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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.

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Burt Lancaster
as J.J. Hunsecker
Tony Curtis
as Sidney Falco
Susan Harrison
as Susan Hunsecker
Martin Milner
as Steve Dallas
Sam Levene
as D'Angelo
Emile G. Meyer
as Harry Kello
Joe Frisco
as Herbie Temple
Lawrence Dobkin
as Leo Bartha
Lurene Tuttle
as Mrs. Bartha
Queenie Smith
as Mildred Tam
Jay Adler
as Manny Davis
Lewis Charles
as Al Evans
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News & Interviews for Sweet Smell of Success

Critic Reviews for Sweet Smell of Success

All Critics (48) | Top Critics (13)

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

    Apr 9, 2015 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

    Wendy Ide

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • 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).

    Apr 21, 2009 | Full Review…
    TIME Magazine
    Top Critic
  • Mackendrick's nighthawk landscape is compellingly, poetically bleak.

    Apr 21, 2009 | Full Review…
  • James Hill's production, locationed in Manhattan, captures the feel of Broadway and environs after dark.

    Jul 22, 2008 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Top Critic
  • The screen was rarely so dark or cruel.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Chris Auty

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • It's about hype and, although it was made decades before the word was coined, it still has eye-opening things to convey about the slippery business of celebrity journalism. Such is the value of first-hand experience.

    Sep 20, 2003 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Sweet Smell of Success

  • Nov 16, 2015
    The acting, the script, the direction, the energy. Stunning!
    Marcus W Super Reviewer
  • May 20, 2013
    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. W Super Reviewer
  • Mar 25, 2013
    Tony Curtis steals the show as the ever so lovable PR man who just continually digs such a deep hole for himself. You want him to get away with it but know that he is ultimately doomed.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Nov 18, 2012
    While I'm less impressed with the script of "Sweet Smell of Success" than I am with the leading performances of Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster, I do admire the quick-wittedness of the dialogue and the lightning-like pace at which it is uttered by its cynical characters. Tony Curtis' performance is arguably the best of his career and though Lancaster's character is a bit frightening, he feels disappointingly underused. I also liked Elmer Bernstein's jazzy score and James Wong Howe's black-and-white photography.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer

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