Best in Blu-ray sifts through the week's new releases, recommending titles for both the Blu-ray veteran and newbie, and reporting on the most intriguing rental. Look for it every Tuesday.
For Blu-ray Vets:
'Sweet Smell of Success'
What It's About: A powerful entertainment columnist abuses the weakness of a desperate press agent to break up his sister's romance. With Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis.
New Features: Audio commentary by film scholar James Naremore, 46-minute documentary on director Alexander Mackendrick, 22-minute feature on cinematographer James Wong Howe, video interviews with Neil Gabler on Walter Winchell and James Mangold on Mackendrick
Transfer/Audio: "Looks highly remarkable - a magnificent transfer," according to Gary Tooze at DVD Beaver.
Replay Value: As corrosive and cynical as it is, 'Sweet Smell' rewards multiple viewings. For one thing, it affords the opportunity to appreciate the acid-laced dialogue in the script by Ernest Lehman, a one-time press agent himself who knew a thing or two about the dynamics of power and persuasion, as well as the gorgeous black-and-white photography.
More than one viewing also allows you to soak in the brutal performances by Burt Lancaster as the cold, manipulative, merciless columnist and Tony Curtis as the self-loathing press agent, as well as the eternal questions the film raises: What price ambition? Does power always corrupt? What place, if any, does morality have in the marketplace?
Further reading: Our own David Ehrlich reviewed the film in his Criterion Corner a few days ago.