My top 7 favorite quotes from Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

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J. J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster) is a newspaper columnist and the most powerful man in New York City. Whatever he says, goes. And right now, he wants to break up his sister Susan (Susan Harrison)’s relationship with Steve Dallas (Martin Milner). Enter Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis), a press agent who will do anything for J. J. Hunsecker, no matter how despicable.

Sweet Smell of Success is so sleazy, it hurts. It’s so raw and unapologetic, it’s actually painful to watch at times. And that’s what makes it so damn good. That and the dialogue. Ernest Lehman and Clifford Odets’ brilliant screenplay is incredibly tight and dripping with acid one-liners and putdowns. I’ve seen this movie a number of times and every time I watch it, I’m like ‘I wish I’d thought of that!’. So I’ve decided to do a list of my top 7 favorite quotes from Sweet Smell of Success. Here we go!

 

7. ‘You sound happy Sidney. Why should you be happy when I’m not?’ (J. J. Hunsecker)

6. ‘Cat’s in the bag and the bag’s in the river.’ (Sidney Falco)

5. ‘How many drinks does it take to put you on that tropical island?’ (Sidney Falco to Rita)

4. ‘I love this dirty town.’ (J. J. Hunsecker)

3. ‘You’re dead, son. Get yourself buried.’ (J. J. Hunsecker to Sidney)

2. ‘Match me, Sidney.’ (J. J. Hunsecker)

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  1. ‘I’d hate to take a bit out of you. You’re a cookie full of arsenic.’ (J. J. Hunsecker to Sidney)

 

Oh, what a great movie.

See you later, folks!

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Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948)

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I was in the mood for a melodrama last night, so I decided to watch Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948) and let it tear me apart. It is so painfully beautiful and beautifully painful, it makes my whole body hurt, not just my heart.

Vienna, 1900. Stefan Brand (Louis Jordan) is a washed-up pianist who decides to flee the city after he’s challenged to a duel. Before that, he receives a letter from someone from his past. In it, Lisa Berndle (Joan Fontaine) details her lifelong, unrequited love for him. This takes her back several years and throws us onto one of the most heart-breaking love stories ever told.

Max Ophuls’ masterpiece is still haunting after all these years. Written by Howard Koch, based on the novella by Stefan Zweig, Letter from an Unknown Woman is an enthralling, bittersweet (mostly bitter) tale, from the letter’s opening sentence to the final frame. Beautifully shot by Franz Planer, the atmospheric mood almost feels like a gothic story at times – very turn of the century indeed. And through it all, the movie belongs to Joan Fontaine. The camera always adored her, because of what she gave her audience. You stay with her the whole time and when her heart breaks in front of your eyes, yours will break too.

Letter From an Unknown Woman gives melodramas a good name. I never even understood that bad rap, anyway. I like them.

My top 10 Favorite Musical Numbers from Classic Musicals

Who doesn’t love a good musical? They’re fun, joyful, lovely and they warm your heart. Some of them break your heart as well. But the song-and-dance numbers are usually so good, that you don’t really mind. So I’ve decided to compile a list of my top 10 favorite musical numbers. Mind you, these aren’t necessarily my favorite musicals in the order they will appear on this list, just my favorite numbers from those musicals.

CRITERIA

  • – I have to have some degree of love for the musicals these numbers appear in, not just the numbers themselves
  • – There are certain numbers that I’ve seen the clips but not the entire film, so they won’t appear on the list
  • – Only one number from each musical will appear and it is the one I consider to be my favorite from that musical. Some of these were very hard, so bear with me
  • – There will be an honorable mention, and it will be my second favorite number from that musical
  • – These are my personal favorites, so the list is VERY subjective

 

Here we go!

10. Make ‘Em Laugh (Singin’ in the Rain, 1952)

Honorable mention: Good Morning

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This was a tough one. I had to go with Make ‘Em Laugh in the end, because it’s just too funny to overlook.

9. Over the Rainbow (The Wizard of Oz, 1939)

Honorable mention: We’re off to see the Wizard

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This is probably the most iconic song on the list. How can you not love it?

8. The Sound of Music (The Sound of Music, 1965)

Honorable mention: My Favorite Things

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As soon as it starts, you know it’s going to be good. It excites you and it fills you with nothing but joy. There is probably no better opening sequence to a musical.

7. Cover Girl (Cover Girl, 1944)

Honorable mention: Long Ago and Far Away

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Rita Hayworth never looked lovelier. She shines in this movie and this particular number is majestic.

6. The Man That Got Away (A Star is Born, 1954)

Honorable mention: Swanee

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The emotion, the feeling, the power, the words… This song is just too much. Judy Garland gives it her all, like always, and it’s magnificent.

5. Well Did You Evah (High Society, 1956)

Honorable mention: True Love

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I love the lyrics and I love how natural Frank and Bing make it seem. I’d love to just randomly start singing this at a party one day. Remind me to do that.

4. Pick Yourself Up (Swing Time, 1936)

Honorable mention: Never Gonna Dance

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I’d love to know how to tap-dance. This movie made me want to learn (which I still haven’t), and this number, particularly, has always fascinated me.

3. Bye Bye Baby (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, 1953)

Honorable mention: Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend

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I love this movie so much, and this has always been my favorite number. Absolutely lovely and Jane Russell is awesome.

2. Get Happy (Summer Stock, 1950)

Honorable mention: You, Wonderful You

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When Judy Garland tells you to get happy, you jolly well get happy! It’s impossible not to.

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1. The Trolley Song (Meet me in St Louis, 1944)

Honorable mention: The Boy Next Door

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It could not be anything else, it will never be anything else. Not only is it my favorite musical number, it’s one of my favorite scenes from any movie ever. It’s perfect.

There you have it folks! Hope you enjoyed it, and as always, feel free to share your favorites in the comments!

Happy weekend, everyone!

DOUBLE BILL #1 Rear Window (1954) and Vertigo (1958)

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A while ago, I wrote an article about the many similarities and differences between All About Eve (1950) and Sunset Boulevard (1950). It wasn’t really a comparison piece per se, just a post about two of my favorite movies, which happen to be quite often associated with one another for a number of reasons. And that got me thinking. A lot of movies often go hand-in-hand in movie buffs’ minds, and I thought it would be a nice idea to write a series of posts about that. I meant to start this a lot sooner – I wrote the Eve/Sunset piece about a year ago -, but now I have finally decided to follow through with it. So, here it is, the first instalment of my DOUBLE BILL series of posts: Rear Window (1954) and Vertigo (1958). For the record, this is not meant to start a war. These are just the thoughts of a movie buff.

Rear Window and Vertigo are two of The Master’s greatest and most beloved movies. Not to mention that they are arguably the two best Hitch/Jimmy Stewart movies of the four they made together. And because it’s Hitchcock, they share a lot of the same themes and motifs. You know, the usual ones. Suspense, mystery, icy blondes, perfect shots, you name it. However, there’s more to them than just that.

In both Rear Window and Vertigo, obsession leads to trouble. Although you can argue that both of them deal with very different types of obsession. In Rear Window, Jimmy Stewart is obsessed with watching his neighbours. This leads to him finding out something he shouldn’t have found out. In Vertigo, he’s obsessed with the memory of Madeleine (Kim Novak). His obsession makes him do… well, obsessive things. However, in Rear Window, Jeff’s obsession is due to boredom at having to stay at home – the whole thing might just be a metaphor for his relationship with Lisa (Grace Kelly), depending on how you want to look at it and how deep you think it might be. In Vertigo, his obsession is psychotic. It’s deeper. And sicker. Vertigo is like the culmination of every Hitchcock movie and every theme ever used in every Hitchcock movie. And it is definitely the darker one of the two. Rear Window, however, has always been my favorite. But I will agree that, objectively, Vertigo might be the better movie. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s the greatest movie ever made, like Sight&Sound did, but it is perhaps Hitchcock’s masterpiece (if you can pick just one!). Vertigo messes with your head and when it finally clears it all up for you, it delivers the ultimate comeuppance. It’s an incredibly satisfying resolution. On the other hand, the scene with Jeff and Thorwald (Raymond Burr) in Rear Window is one of the most thrilling scenes of all time. When Thorwald looks up at Jeff when he sees that Lisa is wearing his wife’s ring, you know it’s on. You know it’s going to be awesome. That whole scene in Jeff’s apartment is the reason why Alfred Hitchcock is called the Master of Suspense. No matter how many times you watch it, it’s always unbelievably exciting.

There are so many overlapping, intertwining themes in both of them, all drenched in metaphors, that one could analyze them forever. As I’m sure movie buffs will continue to do ’til the end of time.

T-Men (1947)

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The relentless cat-and-mouse game that is T-Men (1947) proves that, in film noir, you can’t take anything for granted.

The titular T-Men are Dennis O’Brien (Dennis O’Keefe) and Tony Genaro (Alfred Ryder), two U.S. Treasury agents who go undercover to hunt down a counterfeit ring in Detroit and Los Angeles.

The screenplay by John C. Higgins is absolutely fantastic and full of twists, but the star of T-Men is the collaboration between director Anthony Mann and cinematographer John Alton. I recently watched and talked about Raw Deal (1948), also starring Dennis O’Keefe, and, when I was watching it, I knew Mann/Alton would become one of my favorite movie partnerships. The opening scene of T-Men in particular – after the introductory narration – is nothing short of amazing. So dark, literally and figuratively, and so scary, you will actually gasp out loud.

As you can imagine, this is one of the heavy noirs. In fact, everything and everyone seems to be constantly on edge right up until the every end and, for the viewer, any given scene can be simultaneously frightening and heart-breaking, which is quite a feat.

T-Men is tense, fearless and unbelievably exciting. And like Dennis and Tony, you can’t let your guard down at any point. You couldn’t even if you tried.