While the emergence of a movie on DVD can serve to provide a viewer a more complete presentation of the film and the intent of its filmmakers, sometimes a film's release on DVD will return a great film of the past to the consciousness of DVD connoisseurs. One of the great noir films of all time, "Sweet Smell of Success" is an enjoyable story filled with colorful dialogue laid on so thick you would need a steak knife to cut it. While the DVD's sound transfer is a bit disappointing, this is a film that definitely stands the test of time and is certainly worth watching.
Sweet Smell of Success centers on Sidney Falco, a press agent, instigator and sometime friend to powerful gossip columnist J.J. Hunsecker. Falco, played by Tony Curtis in a great performance in a role he obviously relished, is hired by Hunsecker, played by a young Burt Lancaster, to confirm the rumor that Hunsecker's sister, of whom Hunsecker is extremely protective, has taken up an affair with a local musician and later, to attempt to drive a wedge between them. Meanwhile, Falco is trying to accomplish this while working every possible angle for the benefit of himself and his clients.
The greatest enjoyment of the film comes from Falco's meddling, weaseling, promoting, and making sure that he is always working a room and everyone in it that he can. Although the film is filled with many serious dramatic plot elements and is certainly not a comedy, Falco's constant angling in pursuit of the Sweet Smell of Success provides a number of humorous moments and is quite entertaining.
While Curtis and Lancaster each put in strong performances and really get into their roles, the true star of the film is the dialogue. Matched with Alexander Mackendrick's stylish direction, lines like "I'd hate to take a bite out of you, you're a cookie full of arsenic" and "Sidney, this syrup your giving out, you pour over waffles, not J.J. Hunsicker" make watching the movie a treat, as the film seems to ooze big city flair.
Overall, however, it is the confluence of all of these elements that helps this film achieve noir classic status and truly takes the viewer into a different world, 1950's New York, teeming with corruption, muckraking and backstabbing.