Alexander Mackendrick's Sweet Smell of Success is about scratching (the "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" type) and two men without morals. One of them is J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster, The Leopard), a powerful newspaper columnist in New York City, who could create stars in a manner of hours, and then just as easily destroy them. His writings are followed by millions of people who are literally addicted to his street smart and confident style. The other man is Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis, The Defiant Ones), a young, handsome, ambitious and manipulative press agent lackey who admires everything J.J. does. He also fears the man, which is why he tries hard to be his friend.
J.J. Hunsceker (Burt Lancaster), is a tyrannical Broadway columnist for the New York Globe who rules his demimonde with the press's power to create or destroy. Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis), is the hustling publicist who is consumed by desperate ambition and hates himself because of it; he will do anything to gain the admiration of Hunsceker ("My experience, in brief, is dog eat dog.") The film was shot in black and white by James Wong Howe, giving it a grittiness that underscores the class ranking among the characters. In the script by Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman, Falco's early prediction - "Every dog has its day" - comes crashingly true.
The score to Little Shop was written by Fred Katz. Katz, born in 1919, was a child prodigy on both piano and cello, but would become a well-known cellist in the Los Angeles music scene of the 1950s—the first really to take the cello into the jazz arena. He became part of the very unique Chico Hamilton Quintet and was both heard and seen in the film Sweet Smell Of Success. At some point in the late 1950s, Corman found Katz or Katz found Corman and the two collaborated on several films, including A Bucket Of Blood, The Wasp Woman, Ski Troop Attack, Little Shop, and Creature From The Haunted Sea. Katz’s score perfectly accompanies a film that is occasionally worthy of Ionesco in its surreal weirdness. In fact, Katz’s music is as much fun as the film—it’s funky, jazzy, beat, hipster music, with occasional horror touches, that will keep a smile on your face or conjure up wonderful memories of Seymour Krelboin, Gravis Mushnick, Audrey Fulquard, Burson Fouch, Wilbur Force, and, of course, the great Audrey Junior.