A frustrated former big-city journalist now stuck working for an Albuquerque newspaper exploits a story about a man trapped in a cave to re-jump start his career, but the situation quickly escalates into an out-of-control circus.
A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.
J.J. Hunsecker, the most powerful newspaper columnist in New York, is determined to prevent his sister from marrying Steve Dallas, a jazz musician. He therefore covertly employs Sidney Falco, a sleazy and unscrupulous press agent, to break up the affair by any means possible.Written by
David Levene <D.S.Levene@durham.ac.uk>
Regarding Lancaster's character with the initials "J.J," supporting actor David White would later play a character with the same initials. This occurred in the feature length TV pilot of "Spider-Man." See more »
Microphone shadow during coffee shop scene with Steve and Susan. See more »
Cynical look at how power corrupts...brilliant performances...
BURT LANCASTER was at the height of his illustrious film career when he played J.J. Hunsecker, the Broadway gossip columnist who dipped his pen in poison to destroy careers. TONY CURTIS was a long way from the days when he was ridiculed for saying "Yonda is the castle of my fadder" in films like SON OF ALI BABA and THE BLACK SHIELD OF FALWORTH.
Here, Curtis is every bit up to the chore of playing the slavishly obedient but hateful publicity man who seems to be fawning over Lancaster, but really despises him. Two towering performances in a film with some of the sharpest exchanges of dialog ever heard.
The cruel side of show biz gets full and rich observation from screenwriter Clifford Odets from a novel by Ernest Lehman. The bright lights of Broadway play against the rainswept streets of Broadway and Times Square, a shadowy sort of film noir background for the brutal story being told.
The story abounds in quotable moments, such as when Lancaster tells Curtis, "You're a cookie full of arsenic." The jazz score background sets the appropriate mood for a story as cynical as this, and the twists and turns of the plot will keep you hooked until the uncertain ending. The main plot line has Lancaster opposed to his sister's suitor, a jazz musician (MARTIN MILNER) and his efforts to get this man out of his sister's life with the help of his obedient slave.
But mainly, this is a film worth savoring to watch the intense performances of Lancaster and Curtis. I doubt whether either of them has ever done better work. For Lancaster, it only cemented his reputation as a man already judged to be a fine actor in the right role. For Curtis, it made film critics take this "pretty boy from Brooklyn" seriously for the first time and was the first big milestone in his budding film career.
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