The Sweet Smell of Success (Alexander Mackendrick, 1957)

What's it about? Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis) is a press agent who wants his clients name-checked in the influential gossip column of JJ Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster). But Hunsecker is not a nice man and lures Falco into helping him destroy the reputation of his sister's boyfriend.

Is it any good? A vicious, bitter satire on celebrity and fame with two outstanding, career-best, against-type performances from Lancaster as the monstrous Hunsecker and Curtis as the slimeball agent. Mackendrick's dynamic camera adds verve and intensity to proceedings and the New York club setting is vividly brought to life. The slight plot lacks depth, however, existing only to give a framework to the poisonous relationship between the two leads. But no matter, sit back and enjoy the barbed dialogue in a short, sharp, shock of a film and one which is more relevant in the current landscape of celebrity gossip than ever before. Rather depressingly, those in the know claim characters like Falco and Hunsecker are 10-a-penny in the tabloid world.

Anything else I should know? Hunsecker is based on the journalist  Walter Winchell, who pretty much invented the gossip column back in the early 20s. Just think, without him, no Hello magazine, no E! channel, no Z-list wannabe slebs. The bastard.

What does the Fonz think? "Match Watch me, Sidney"

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