Sweet Smell of Success

I have seen very few movies made prior to 1960. Maybe a total of 10 in full and 20 more in part. I never liked them… I found them boring especially when I was younger.

Either I’m picking the right ones or my taste is changing. I loved Citizen Kane and a few days ago I fired up Sweet Smell of Success. I can hardly believe the quality of the writing, and not just because it plays to the Cynical Bastard in me.

“I’d hate to take a bite out of you. You’re a cookie full of arsenic”.

“I must have left my sense of humor in my other suit”.

There are many more very good lines as well, I just can’t remember them. The actors are continuously overshadowed by the writing, even Burt Lancaster who gave a very good performance. This is the only movie I remember where I really wish I had thought up its lines!

The whole movie is surprising given that it was made in 1957. Its a Feminist movie in the sense that the men are conniving amoral power sell-outs and the women are treated almost angelically. The Lancaster character is hilarious with his attempt to stay pure and aloof while maintaining “I love this dirty town”.

I very much doubt there was a more cynical film made before 1960 than this one, although if anyone wants to provide a competitor that would be nice.

Its a Feminist movie in the sense that the chauvenistic stereotypes that feminists hate are put on glorious display.


If you enjoy Orson Welles films, I highly recommend “The Third Man” (late 40’s I think) and “Touch of Evil” (late 50’s?). They’re both film noir, the former with more humour and style and the latter with a genuine grasp of sleaze. Plus 'Touch" is the only time you’ll get to see Charlton Heston playing a Mexican.

I love older films…I especially find certain genre benders fascinating. If you are looking for a great suspense film that was shunted aside at the time it was released (not least because Psycho stole its thunder, and its subject matter was pretty disturbing), you should check out ‘Peeping Tom’. It’s old in the sense that it relies on your imagination a great deal, and adheres to the classical conception of horror (as opposed to the blood spattered boo bullshit that is so often lumped in the same category). I’ve just had that movie on my mind, hence the spontaneous recommendation…not pre-1960, but close.

Everyone should see Touch of Evil, if only for the much ballyhooed opening sequence. It really is as fucking amazing as you’ve heard.

True, but my point is that Feminism developed after Masculinity lost its honored status, and this is a movie showing the kind of loss that led to Feminism.