8.1/10
24,693
140 user 123 critic

Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

Approved | | Drama, Film-Noir | 4 July 1957 (USA)
Trailer
3:05 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $3.99 on Prime Video

ON DISC
Powerful but unethical Broadway columnist J.J. Hunsecker coerces unscrupulous press agent Sidney Falco into breaking up his sister's romance with a jazz musician.

Writers:

Clifford Odets (screenplay), Ernest Lehman (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A frustrated former big-city journalist now stuck working for an Albuquerque newspaper exploits a story about a man trapped in a cave to re-jump start his career, but the situation quickly escalates into an out-of-control circus.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Kirk Douglas, Jan Sterling, Robert Arthur
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.

Director: Jacques Tourneur
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas
Drama | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A potentially violent screenwriter is a murder suspect until his lovely neighbor clears him. But she begins to have doubts.

Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy
Crime | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A small-time grifter and nightclub tout takes advantage of some fortuitous circumstances and tries to become a big-time player as a wrestling promoter.

Director: Jules Dassin
Stars: Richard Widmark, Gene Tierney, Googie Withers
Laura (1944)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A police detective falls in love with the woman whose murder he is investigating.

Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb
Rififi (1955)
Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Four men plan a technically perfect crime, but the human element intervenes...

Director: Jules Dassin
Stars: Jean Servais, Carl Möhner, Robert Manuel
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A major heist goes off as planned, until bad luck and double crosses cause everything to unravel.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen
Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The desperate life of a chronic alcoholic is followed through a four-day drinking bout.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Ray Milland, Jane Wyman, Phillip Terry
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A religious fanatic marries a gullible widow whose young children are reluctant to tell him where their real daddy hid $10,000 he'd stolen in a robbery.

Director: Charles Laughton
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish
The Killers (1946)
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Hit men kill an unresisting victim, and investigator Reardon uncovers his past involvement with beautiful, deadly Kitty Collins.

Director: Robert Siodmak
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien
The Big Heat (1953)
Crime | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Tough cop Dave Bannion takes on a politically powerful crime syndicate.

Director: Fritz Lang
Stars: Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Jocelyn Brando
White Heat (1949)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A psychopathic criminal with a mother complex makes a daring break from prison and leads his old gang in a chemical plant payroll heist. Shortly after the plan takes place, events take a crazy turn.

Director: Raoul Walsh
Stars: James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Edmond O'Brien
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
Burt Lancaster ... J.J. Hunsecker
Tony Curtis ... Sidney Falco
Susan Harrison ... Susan Hunsecker
Martin Milner ... Steve Dallas (as Marty Milner)
Jeff Donnell ... Sally
Sam Levene ... Frank D' Angelo
Joe Frisco ... Herbie Temple
Barbara Nichols ... Rita
Emile Meyer ... Lt. Harry Kello
Edith Atwater ... Mary
The Chico Hamilton Quintet ... The Chico Hamilton Quintet
Edit

Storyline

J.J. Hunsecker, the most powerful newspaper columnist in New York, is determined to prevent his sister from marrying Steve Dallas, a jazz musician. He therefore covertly employs Sidney Falco, a sleazy and unscrupulous press agent, to break up the affair by any means possible. Written by David Levene <D.S.Levene@durham.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The almighty J.J. ...the columnist with sixty million believers ...his wrath is feared by the great and near great who worship the sweet smell of success! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 July 1957 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Sweet Smell of Success See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$2,600,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie's line "I'd hate to take a bite outta you. You're a cookie full of arsenic" was voted as the #99 of "The 100 Greatest Movie Lines" by Premiere in 2007. See more »

Goofs

Microphone shadow during coffee shop scene with Steve and Susan. See more »

Quotes

J.J. Hunsecker: Here's your head; what's your hurry?
See more »

Crazy Credits

introducing Susan Harrison See more »

Connections

Referenced in Film 2017: Episode #44.1 (2015) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
"You want information, ask for it like a man, instead of scratching for it like a dog."
20 October 2005 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

The fact that in 1957 this film was made at all is proof that Walter Winchell's decline was already setting in. Burt Lancaster's J.J. Hunsecker based on Winchell and very frightening accurately portrays the columnist and the power he wielded.

For those who are interested in how Winchell got to where he was J.J. Hunsecker I would recommend Neal Gabler's biography of him which came out a few years ago. Sweet Smell of Success is the story of a day in the life of this monster who everyone on the planet it seems is terrified of offending. Like Winchell at the Stork Club, Hunsecker holds court like some monarch at a nightclub where people are obsequiously asking for some recognition in his column.

One of these is Sidney Falco, press agent and bootlicking dog extraordinaire. Hunsecker is mad at him because he sent him on an errand to break up a romance his younger sister is having with a jazz musician he doesn't approve of. The film is essentially Falco's attempts to carry out his master's wishes.

Burt Lancaster had already received critical acclaim as an actor, but this was a breakthrough role for Tony Curtis as Sidney Falco. Up to then Curtis was the handsome romantic lead in many lightweight films for his home studio of Universal. Sidney Falco was a lot of things, but heroic wasn't one of them. Next year Tony Curtis would get an Oscar nomination for The Defiant Ones. How Lancaster and Curtis were ignored by the Academy for nominations is beyond me.

The young lovers are Susan Harrison and Martin Milner. This was probably Marty Milner's finest screen role. As Lancaster was also the producer he personally cast Milner in the part having worked with him on Gunfight at the OK Corral. Susan Harrison strangely enough never had much of a career after a promising debut. She ultimately wreaks a terrible vengeance on one of our protagonists.

One of the ironic lines in the film is Lancaster saying that he'd fold up if he had to exist on a press agent's tidbits. But ironically that's how Winchell/Hunsecker did exist. Winchell had no real skill as a reporter as Gabler's biography pointed out. When the tidbits stopped, he dried up and blew away.

Sweet Smell of Success was a commercial flop, movie audiences did not take to the offbeat casting of the leads nor to the gritty realistic story. Today the film is a deserved classic.


61 of 70 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 140 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed