Sweet Smell of Success Reviews
This is a movie that gets so close to greatness, it's stunning! But, then, the writer gets scared and decides to throw in the towel in a spectacularly wrongheaded fashion in the film's final minutes.
I recently saw 2014's "Nightcrawler," a film about a sociopath so absolutely determined to get to the top of the TV news game that he will do anything, and I mean anything, to make it happen. The key with that film is how 100% committed writer/director Dan Gilroy is to, not only follow through with his character and his storyline to the final credits, he actually doubles-down!
Here, screenwriter / original novella writer Ernest Lehman first created two of the most reprehensible, irredeemable characters in film history. They are truly awful, Godless people. Then, [SPOILER] he bizarrely decides late in the film to punish them both for their villainy. First of all, it completely undercuts everything that came before. Castrating their evil comes across as though you as a writer weren't committed to it in the first place. Second, the way it is done is confusing and clumsy. Plus, it's quick and results in an abrupt ending to the film. [END SPOILER]
This is something that separates the men from the boys when it comes to film. Being willing to go all the way with the despicable characters you've created, or throwing in the towel at the last minute. "Sweet Smell of Success" gives up, while "Nightcrawler" charges full-steam ahead!
Apart from that issue, the film is beautifully made, with James Wong Howe's excellent black-and-white cinematography, Elmer Bernstein's film score and Alexander Mackendrick's direction.
His fast talking press agent struggling to keep himself afloat was a helluva lot of fun to watch, and this is definitely a film that I will return to time and again.
A cynical press agent anxiously looking to get attention for his clients has to make some guy he doesn't like a favor he doesn't really want to make: Break up his sister's relationship with a jazz musician.
I loved how well spoken the characters were, the insults were brilliant, the whole script in general was fantastic, a great example of incredible writing. The first 20 minutes or so were kind of slow in presenting all the characters, but once the on going insults and drama start it gets very entertaining.
My only problem with it was how anti-climatic the ending was, it left me wanting more, much more. I could've watched a lot more of what these characters had to offer, I wanted to see them all spiral down towards a tragic ending that I didn't get. It's still a great movie the film noir genre has to offer for any film lover who's a fan of that specific type of movie.
I'd recommend it to anyone who liked "The Network", "There Will Be Blood", "Magnolia", "Glengarry Glen Ross", "The Departed" and/or "Sin City".