Arrow Video’s Arrow Academy have announced its release of Alexander Mackendrick’s darkly cynical Sweet Smell of Success, a ferociously clear-eyed study of the seamier side of American journalism and the cult of celebrity.
Starring Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis, the film took two of the era’s biggest stars, cast them against type not merely as villains, but as men so calculatedly amoral that each successive scene saw them plumbing new depths of degradation. Sweet Smell of Success will arrive on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK from 30th March 2015.
This new edition comes with an exciting array of extra features, most notably a 4K digital transfer from the original camera negative. The disc will also include Dermot McQuarrie’s 1986 documentary Mackendrick: The Man Who Walked Away which features interviews with Mackendrick, Burt Lancaster, producer James Hill and many others. Alongside this is a new appreciation of the film by critic and film historian Philip Kemp, author of Lethal Innocence: The Cinema of Alexander Mackendrick, who has also recorded a selected-scene commentary.
The reversible sleeve will showcase both the original and the newly commissioned artwork by Chris Walker and the disc will also feature a collector’s booklet with new writing on the film by Michael Brooke and Mackendrick’s own analysis of various script drafts, illustrated with original stills and artwork.
One of the darkest films ever to come out of the Hollywood mainstream – both literally and figuratively – this spellbindingly cynical study of Machiavellian media machinations in a neon-drenched New York City was the first and best American film by Alexander Mackendrick, who already had several Ealing Studios classics on his CV (Whisky Galore, The Man in the White Suit, Mandy, The Ladykillers) when he crossed the Atlantic.
Considering his star status, Burt Lancaster was famously fearless when it came to risking audience sympathies, and he gives one of his most memorable performances as ruthless gossip columnist J.J. Hunsecker, who’ll go to any lengths to break up his sister’s unsuitable romance, even if it means destroying the reputation of press agent Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis).
Brilliantly scripted by Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman from the latter’s autobiographical short story, and filmed in gleaming monochrome by legendary cinematographer James Wong Howe, Sweet Smell of Success is one of the greatest and most clear-eyed of all American films, lifting up the stone of Fifties decorum and unflinchingly revealing what was crawling underneath.
- Restored High Definition (1080p) presentation of a 4K digital transfer from the original 35mm camera negative
- Original uncompressed PCM mono 1.0 audio
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
- Appreciation by critic and film historian Philip Kemp, author of Lethal Innocence: The Cinema of Alexander Mackendrick
- Selected scene commentary by Philip Kemp
- Mackendrick: The Man Who Walked Away – Dermot McQuarrie’s 1986 Scottish Television documentary, featuring interviews with Mackendrick, Burt Lancaster, producer James Hill and many others
- Theatrical trailer
- Reversible sleeve featuring an original poster and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Walker
- Collector’s booklet with new writing on the film by Michael Brooke and Mackendrick’s own analysis of various script drafts, illustrated with original stills and posters