I hate disappointment, yet the further into the List I delve, the more used to it I become. Sweet Smell of Success is a film I’ve had sat on my DVD shelf for over a year now (since even before the List entered and devoured my sad excuse for a life), and I’ve been waiting for a chance to watch it. Appearing on 3 lists and this month featured as Empire magazine’s monthly Masterpiece, my hopes were set to high. I knew two things: the film was endlessly quotable (a character in Diner does nothing but quote the script) and it features arguably career-best performances from leads Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster. Whilst I cannot deny these points, I must take umbrage with the film for being far too dense. Even now I only have a vague idea as to what took place – Curtis’ ambitious yet downtrodden press agent Sidney Falco teamed up/sparred with Lancaster’s ruthless columnist J. J. Hunsecker in an effort to prevent a relationship between Hunsecker’s sister and a young jazz musician, so the Falco can get more column inches in Hunsecker’s paper. Much of the script is quotable (“You’re dead son, get yourself buried)”, but there is so much of it many of the best lines are lost. Doubtless this film will improve with repeat viewings, and if so my score shall be upgraded, but for a one-watch it doesn’t hold up. The score has also received a lot of plaudits, yet I found it really did not fit to the film – a barroom conversation sounds more like a frantic car chase. Here’s hoping the next viewing is more enjoyable.
Choose life 6/10