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Film Favorites: Sweet Smell of Success

sweet-smell-stillEdited for Clarity

Released in 1957, Sweet Smell of Success, mocking, bitter title and all, was one of the last American film noirs. You’d be forgiven for thinking the genre would be sucked-dry by that point (after all, dozens of these movies were released every year in an era that saw rapidly-produced films like no other). Maybe it is the knowledge of this fact that allowed director Alexander Mackendrick, writer Clifford Odets, and cinematographer James Wong Howe (in a rare great film where the cinematographer is more famous than the writer or director, but then that’s film noir for you) the freedom to produce something which feels so rapturously alive. This isn’t a static film – it kicks and prods and runs at you every which way and threatens to overcome you with itself. It’s angry and enraged, teeth drawn, filled with passion, and it purrs like a noirish nightmare hopped up on a drug that hadn’t yet made its way stateside ten years earlier at the height of noir popularity, but was now infecting the waters. Infecting, and poisoning at that, but Sweet Smell of Success has venom to match. Continue reading