Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 124: Thursday May 5

Sweet Smell of Success (Mackendrick, 1957): Phoenix Cinema, 11am

The Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley screen film classics each Thursday morning and this is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the current season. A colleague of mine simply said "It has everything" when she watched this movie for the first time and it is one of those rare instances when script, acting, mise-en-scene, cinematography and soundtrack combine to create a true classic.

Here is the Time Out review:

'A film noir from the Ealing funny man? But Mackendrick's involvement with cosy British humour was always less innocent than it looked: remember the anti-social wit of The Man in the White Suit, or the cruel cynicism of The Ladykillers? Sweet Smell of Success was the director's American debut, a rat trap of a film in which a vicious NY gossip hustler (Curtis) grovels for his 'Mr Big' (Lancaster), a monster newspaper columnist who is incestuously obsessed with destroying his kid sister's romance... and a figure as evil and memorable as Orson Welles in The Third Man or Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter. The dark streets gleam with the sweat of fear; Elmer Bernstein's limpid jazz score (courtesy of Chico Hamilton) whispers corruption in the Big City. The screen was rarely so dark or cruel.' 96 min.

Anyone interested in reading more about this classy piece of film making is urged to seek out this BFI monograph written by James Naremore.

Just look at this great opening. 

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