A Few Words About A few words about...™ Sweet Smell of Success -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Feb 15, 2011.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I didn't see Sweet Smell of Success until probably twenty years ago, when someone loaned me a print. I had expected an uplifting drama, possibly a How to Succeed in Business, but without the music.


    That's not this film.


    SSoS is a difficult film to peg. The usually lovable Burt Lancaster is very much the antagonist, while Tony Curtis, his accent working in his favor on this film, is far from the happy-go-lucky guy we'd like to see.


    Everything about Criterion's new Blu-ray is letter perfect. An astonishingly beautiful black & white high definition world from the mid-fifties.


    It's worthwhile taking a look at the credits on this one, as they read like a who's who of mid-century cinema. Director Alexander MacKendrick was born in the Colonies, but few up in Scotland. His output is fully British, and totally wonderful. Whisky Galore, The Man in the White Suit, Crash of Silence, and strangely, SSoS.


    Cinematographer extraordinaire, James Wong Howe, (where do I begin) Peter Pan (1924), Laugh, Clown, Laugh, The Power and the Glory, Viva Villa!, Manhattan Melodrama, The Thin Man, Fire Over England, The Prisoner of Zenda, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Algiers, Abe Lincoln in Illinois, Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet, Torrid Zone, The Strawberry Blonde, Kings Row, Yankee Doodle Dandy...


    You get the point.


    Two screenwriters, Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman -- you can look them up if you don't know their work.


    Music by Elmer Bernstein - same. Don't embarrass yourself.


    A great job of bringing this film to Blu-ray by Criterion.


    Great film.


    Highly Recommended.


    RAH
     
  2. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Really looking forward to this; I think it was hugely brave of MacKendrick to take on such a project for his Hollywood baptism. Of all his films, it seems to be mentioned least, but I adore The Maggie.


    Pedant's corner - it's 'Whisky' (which is Scotch; 'Whiskey' is Irish). Slàinte mhor!
     
  3. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Tight Little Island
     
  4. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    An excellent film, the first time I watched it was back in the late 60s as it featured a different role for one of my favorite actors in Burt Lancaster. I loved how it captured the 50s feel of NYC.






    Crawdaddy
     
  5. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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  6. benbess

    benbess Cinematographer

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    Excellent film. And it's amazing to be able to run something close to a pristine 35mm print in your living room. Great music. I add my vote to those who recommend this title quite highly... Amazing location filming in NYC in 1956. I wonder what the budget was on this one? Did it doom Lancaster's production company as he feared? Bizarre that Burt threatened to punch Lehman's face in for getting sick and not being able to direct. He was more like his character in the film than we might imagine! Except in the film he had other people do things like that for him. I loved Lehman's response, which was something like: "Go ahead! I need the money!"
     
  7. montrealfilmguy

    montrealfilmguy Supporting Actor

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    bought the Criterion Bluray for 44 dollars here in Montreal.


    Script is like fireworks,full of quotable dialogue.The cinematography from James Wong Howe is like stepping into a time machine and pushing the button that says: New-York 1960's.


    and if a guy ever needed to know to shut his yap in the history of the world,this is it.


    Wong Howe eventually bought a Chinese restaurant located near the Ventura Freeway, which he managed with Sanora. When a photographer from a San Fernando Valley newspaper came to take a picture of the eatery, Howe counseled that he should put a wide-angle lens on his camera so he wouldn't have to stand so close to the freeway to get the shot. "I'll take the picture," the photographer unknowingly snapped at one of the master cinematographers of the world, "you just mind your goddamned noodles!"

    Bugs says "What a moroon ! "
     

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