Saturday, 2 March 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 70: Mon Mar 11

Sweet Smell of Success (Mackendrick, 1957): BFI Southbank NFT 2 6.10pm 
The film is also being shown at the BFI on Sat 9 and Sun 10 March. Details here.

This is screening as part of the Passport to Cinema season and is introduced by the excellent Philip Kemp. 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.

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.'

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

Here's an introduction to the movie from the Criterion team.

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