Clifford Odets

'Sweet Smell of Success' has classic aroma

'Sweet Smell of Success' has classic aroma

Louis B. Mayer warned anyone who made a movie at MGM: "Be smart, but never show it."

The still-subversive thrill of "Sweet Smell of Success" — an independent production released through United Artists — is that it's unabashedly smart in every possible way. It's smart as in glamorous and smart as in fresh. And as drama it smarts and refreshes, like an icy jet of water on a fevered brow.

In 1957, this spirited debunking of a Walter Winchell-like columnist, J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster), and the publicist-toady who feeds him items, Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis), rode a wave of middlebrow and highbrow revulsion for the manipulations and sensationalism...