Sweet Smell of Success

Part inside, snide celebration, part self-righteous exposé, this 1957 showbiz melodrama has never seemed more timely or more evocative of a vanished period. Written in acid by Clfford Odets and Ernest Lehman, peerlessly directed by Alexander Mackendrick, Sweet Smell of Success defines a particular urban style. The bitter bon mots, the brassy, jazz-inflected score, and the way tabloids are treated as messages from on high all amplify Tony Curtis’ hectic performance as an ambitious flack, Sidney Falco, in the Kingdom of Dreadful Night ruled by a monstrous corpse—the gossip columnist immortally played by Burt Lancaster, J.J. Hunsecker. (NR) HOBERMAN

April 8-10, 7 p.m., 2011

 
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