Starring – Burt Lancaster (J.J. Hunsecker), Tony Curtis (Sidney Falco), Susan Harrison (Susan Hunsecker), Martin Milner (Steve Dallas).
Released – June, 1957
Directed By – Alexander Mackendrick
Produced By – Norma Productions, Curtleigh Productions, Hill-Hecht-Lancaster Productions
Distributed By – United Artists
Description – J.J. Hunsecker is Broadway’s most powerful columnist. How powerful? Sixty-million readers powerful. He can make or break you with just a paragraph or two.
However, J.J. does have a problem. His younger sister Susan is seeing up-and-coming jazz musician Steve Dallas and J.J. doesn’t like it. Unable to talk Susan out of this relationship, J.J. now seeks to destroy Dallas personally and professionally.
Press agent Sidney Falco has been trying, without any luck, to brake up the romance on J.J.’s orders. His failures have caused J.J. to hold back on any positive publicity in his column for Sidney’s clients. As a result, Sidney has been losing both money and clients.
Falco is given one last chance by Hunsecker and is ordered to plant a false rumor that Dallas is a drug user and a member of the Communist Party. The pressure caused by this plan causes Susan to break up her relationship with Dallas so that he can continue to pursue his career without her brothers sabotage.
A confrontation ensues between Hunsecker and Dallas after the breakup and even though Susan and Dallas are no longer a couple, J.J. still decides to destroy the young musician’s career. Why? Because he can.
The effects of J.J.’s cruel retribution against Dallas cause Susan to attempt suicide in her apartment. She is stopped by the arrival of Falco shortly before J.J. also arrives believing the two in a totally different scenario.
NOTABLE: Robert Vaughn was originally cast to play the part of Steve Dallas, but was drafted into the Army before any footage could be filmed.
The narcotics detective in Sweet Smell of Success, Lt Harry Kello, is based on NYPD detective Eddie Egan, immortalized by Gene Hackman as ‘Popeye’ Doyle in the 1971 film The French Connection.
Famed New York columist Walter Winchell was the model for the character J.J. Hunsecker.
Originally intended to be produced with a modest budget of $600,000 the films costs skyrocketed to $2,600,000.
Sweet Smell of Success is listed on Entertainment Weekly’s 100 Greatest Movies of All Time, and included among Steven Schneider’s “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.”