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  • Writer's pictureDomenic

Sweet Smell of Success| Review

Updated: May 31, 2022

Alexander Mackendrick's Sweet Smell of Success boils down the usual motifs in a film noir in exchange for a highly evident use of dialogue, atmosphere, and camera movement.

Despite rooting itself in one of the most culturally booming cities in the United States, the film mostly operates on dialogue. But not entirely dependent on dialogue like some other films (Pulp Fiction), words often carry ground and feature a variety of NYC street-talk. Bound to be on par with some of the greatest screenplays of the 20th Century.

A noir without atmosphere is like a serious comedy. Atmosphere plays a pivotal role in any film's, most prominently those belonging to the noir genre, post-production. Fast cuts, blues music, and mood lighting all play a factor in the noir genre and need a perfect execution to function correctly.

Orson Welles once said, "Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn." Those words are what make a highly-skilled director. Mackendrick moves the camera so furiously yet smoothly, revealing more details and concealing even more all to make his vision of the film perfectly come to light. 

Film noir has some pretty amazing masterpieces, The Third Man, The Maltese Falcon, and Chinatown, but, this film could surely stand side by side with them.

Time Stamp: March 30, 2020

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