Sweet Smell Of Success & The Lost New York

Written by Joe D on September 1st, 2008

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SSOS just showed on TCM as part of a Tony Curtis retrospective.
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Sidney Falco on the threshold of Success, the entrance to “21″

This time it really brought back memories of Lost New York. Some of the spots are still there but they’re not the same. First off, this is an incredible movie. Great classic performances out of Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. Great dialog, “Match me Sidney.” ” I’d hate to take a bite out of you, you’re a cookie full of arsenic.”
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One of Burt’s Greatest Roles
There’s more quipping in this movie than any other that I can think of. ” Here’s your head, what’s your hurry.” It does not stop. James Wong Howe’s cinematography is amazing, they went for a reverse, long lenses to shoot long shots, exteriors of NYC stacked up in a telephoto lens, wide angle lenses for close ups, distorting, paranoid, powerful images of the characters and this technique works incredibly well. The characters jump off the screen at you with all the dynamism of a Steve Ditko comic.
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Pure Genius!
The environs of New York never looked better. Great locations! Shots of a bygone NYC. There’s a scene at A Times Square hot dog stand, you can picture Jack Kerouac walking in. It reminds me of Papaya King, a stand I used to frequent. Two dogs and a papaya drink for $1.50! That was a deal!
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Time Travel via HotDog Stand!
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Hey Kerouac! Pass The Mustard!
All that stuff in midtown, the 40’s and 50’s , the “21″ club, the Ed Sullivan Theater, the crummy offices, the streets, J.J.(Burt Lancaster) lives in the Brill Building, 1619 Broadway. I used to work there, there were a lot of editing rooms in that building. Saturday Night Live had offices there, I once had a run in with a belligerent John Belushi on the service elevator.
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Sidney in the lobby of The Brill Building, 1600 Bway was right across the street
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Reverse on the Brill lobby. This was it, Tin Pan Alley!

Across the street was 1600 Broadway, the National Screen Services Building. They had a ton of cutting rooms in there as well and it was one of the last buildings in the city to have elevator operators! Next door was the Rincon Argentina, a great restaurant, full of editors at lunch time, half a chicken, french fries, salad for $3.59, plus a demi boutee of house red for a buck! Those were the days. So to see J.J. and Sidney cruising my old neighborhoods blew me away. I worked up the street at my friend’s company “CineHaven”, 254 W.54th street. Rumor had it that Marlon Brando and Wally Cox were roommates there in the 50’s.
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I used to work (and crash) right up the street!

Just up the street from Studio 54 and Trans Audio , a mixing studio with a lot of cutting rooms. But back to SSOS, the bar that Martin Milner plays at when Sidney sets him up, I think it’s by the old West Side Highway, the location is so cool, Sidney up on the overpass signaling Kello the bad cop to get Martin. Incredible!
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West Side Highway Location?
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Evil Cop Harry Kello beats up Jazz Guitarist Martin Milner
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Life imitates Art, Miles Davis was beaten up by a cop on 52nd Street while standing outside a gig

The great Chico Hamilton Quintet appears in the film and they are excellent. Great score by Elmer Bernstein, great screenplay by Ernest Lehman and Clifford Odets, great direction by Alexander Mackendrick.
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Chico Hamilton on drums, the guy on cello is Fred Katz, he wrote the super cool score for Roger Corman’s Little Shop Of Horrors!

Great characters, supposedly J.J. was based on Walter Winchell, the influential columnist. It’s an interesting character, he wraps himself up in the flag spouting a lot of rhetoric about patriotism, all the while spewing vitriol on everyone he doesn’t like, and if anyone complains, they’re un-American! A petty tyrant whose motivations are his personal vendettas and small minded attacks pretending that he’s doing it for the good of his “60 million readers”. I think this is a very timely character, as relevant now as back then, even more so. We’ve got a J.J. Hunsecker in the White House, only without the witty quips. The movie introduces the wonderful Susan Harrison, what happened to her?
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If you want to get a feel for that old lost New York check out this guy, Jean Shepherd. He had a late nite radio show broadcast from NYC, I’d listen to him when I was a kid. Sometimes he talks about NYC and it doesn’t get any better than this. He also wrote the Christmas Story film. Here’s a link to some of his shows. Here it is : Jean Shepherd Shows
flatiron.jpgI used to live around the corner from the Flatiron Building, an early structural steel building in NYC courtesy of Chicago architect Daniel Burnham

11 Comments so far ↓

  1. Sep
    12
    12:05
    AM
    Vivek

    Hi MySelf
    Vivek
    Are you a filmmaker who knows someone using digital technology in their home in an amazing way? Want to tell the world about it – in your native language? Cisco and Filmaka want you to make a film about a “Digital Crib” - a home that uses digital technology - and send it to us. 10 winners will receive $7500 USD and another 10 will win $5000. Winning Digital Crib clips will be placed on over 200 sites across the internet, for the whole planet to see! Submissions should be 3 minutes each, and in your native language and are due October 13 - go to www.filmaka.com/ciscodigitalcribs for more information!
    The Feature Film contest’s theme for September is “The First Day”. Submissions must be 1 to 3 minutes long and must be uploaded by October 5, 24:00 PST. For more info visit www.filmaka.com/firstday
    Regards
    Vivek Mehra

  2. Oct
    14
    3:31
    AM
    Dipti

    Hi Myself
    Dipti
    It’s the beginning of Pros And Con Games Competition at Filmaka! Make a
    1-3 film on this theme and you could win funding to direct your
    feature film! The competition is judged by esteemed international
    filmmakers Werner Herzog, Zak Penn, Colin Firth, Paul Schrader, and
    more! Each month there is a new theme and 15-20 filmmakers receive
    $1500-$4500. Three of them go on to compete for feature funding at
    the end of the year. Last year’s final winner, Nuru Rimington-Mkali,
    got $5 million to direct his film! Submissions are due November 6,
    2008. Ready to take the first step? Go to www.filmaka.com/featurefilm

    Regards
    Dipti

  3. Nov
    10
    10:53
    PM
    dipti

    Filmaka offers funding to unknown filmmakers around the world and provides a chance to step up in to professional cinema and TV. Last year Filmaka commissioned over 40 web series to filmmakers across the planet, from Tokyo to Mexico City, and awarded $5 million in production funding to a Londoner, Nuru Rimington-Mkali, to direct his feature film. Filmaka has launched some new features to enhance its reach to professional film makers:-

    1) Ability to compose a professional portfolio: You can now create an online portfolio by uploading samples of your work to the personal films section of your profile. Let industry professionals discover you through Filmaka now. Click here to upload the samples of your work http://www.filmaka.com/filmaka_upload_master.php
    2) Filmaka Forums: Advertise your services to the biggest community of online professional film makers. Access http://www.filmaka.com/forums/ to post your casting calls, equipment needs and reviews and read reviews for the latest Hollywood releases.
    3) More Exciting Branded competitions launched every fortnight: Filmaka has released more than two million dollars as prize money to its film makers through its branded competitions most recent ones being with Ford, Cisco, MSN, Red Bull, FX and SAB Miller.
    4) Enhanced Community features: Filmaka members can now upload personal pictures, Bios, CV’s and personalize there profiles to make them more elaborate and detailed for fellow film makers, producers and actors. Members can write reviews about fellow film makers competition entries, post private messages to each other and also embed there favorite videos in there profiles on other websites.
    5) More Web Series: Filmaka has more than 25 web series in production with a new episode being launched every Monday and Thursday, watching webisodes was never more exciting, Every series has there own dedicated page with all actors, characters and directors profiles,bios,making ofs and pictures. To check more details check the Filmaka Channel homepage http://www.filmaka.com/filmaka_channel.php

    Check out the most exciting professional film maker’s database at http://www.filmaka.com . For more details contact the online support chat from the contact us page.

  4. Nov
    24
    10:21
    PM
    Dipti

    Hi My Self
    Dipti
    It’s the beginning of “The Party” Competition at Filmaka! Make a
    1-3 film on this theme and you could win funding to direct your
    feature film! The competition is judged by esteemed international
    filmmakers Werner Herzog, Zak Penn, Colin Firth, Paul Schrader, and
    more! Each month there is a new theme and 15-20 filmmakers receive
    $1500-$4500. Three of them go on to compete for feature funding at
    the end of the year. Last year’s final winner, Nuru Rimington-Mkali,
    got $5 million to direct his film! Submissions are due January 12,
    2009. Ready to take the first step? Go to www.filmaka.com/featurefilm
    Regards.
    Dipti

  5. May
    16
    3:42
    AM
    Nabin

    Hi I’m
    Nabin
    It’s the starting of “The Party” Competition at Filmaka! Make a
    1-3 film on this theme and you could win funding to direct your
    feature film! The competition is judged by esteemed international
    filmmakers Werner Herzog, Zak Penn, Colin Firth, Paul Schrader, and

  6. Jun
    1
    9:15
    PM
    0ptIMUsPRIME

    Hi everybody! I am crazy fan of this movie. Where I can download full version of 2 part? I have only 20min short clip from this part. You can download it [b][url=http://tinyurl.com/n2v76f]Here[/url][/b]
    Who can help me?

  7. Jan
    19
    7:34
    PM
    Brooklyn Girl

    live around the corner from the Flatiron Building, the first structural steel building in NYC courtesy of Louis Sullivan

    Great column! But sorry, the Flatiron Building is neither … Cooper Union’s Great Hall, which is much older, has a steel infrastructure, and the only Louis Sullivan building in NYC is on Bleecker Street, near Crosby. The Flatiron Building was by Daniel Burnham, another great Chicago architect. You can read about them both in “The Devil in the White City.”

  8. Jan
    20
    7:33
    AM
    Joe D

    I stand corrected, thanks for the info!

  9. Apr
    11
    3:05
    AM
    bd

    do you know what theater they are filming in for the interior shots of his tv show?

  10. Apr
    12
    12:07
    PM
    Joe D

    Probably the Ed Sullivan Theater on Broadway where David Letterman does his show.

  11. May
    19
    5:23
    AM
    Will C.

    The location of the jazz club is East 59th street, at the entrance to the Queensboro Bridge.

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