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.