Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 4, 2021


(1957). Director: Alexander Mackendrick. 

"You're dead, son. Get yourself buried." 

Powerful newspaper columnist J. J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster), who seems to have an incestuous yen for his sister, Susan (Susan Harrison), is determined to keep her from marrying a musician (Martin Milner), and importunes press agent Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis) to help him break the couple up. This study of loathsome and immoral characters isn't really about show biz or newspapers or even columnists but it seems almost as hollow at its center as its protagonist. Part of the problem is that you never really believe Lancaster as Hunsecker, although by no means does he give a bad performance. Then the secondary love story isn't that convincing or moving. Susan Harrison and Barbara Nichols have some nice moments -- Milner is okay if a bit stiff -- but the picture is positively stolen by a ferocious, charismatic and altogether splendid performance by Tony Curtis. That's the main reason to watch the film. 

Verdict: Curtis' finest hour. **1/2.


angelman66 said...

This is a masterpiece of a film— as you say, Tony Curtis at his very best. He rarely got a great opportunity like this to show what he was capable of as an actor. Love the jazz-pacing and menacing air of this wonderful film, and Lancaster is of course also iconic here.
Was just on TCM the other night!
- Chris

William said...

I didn't like the film as much as you did but Curtis was wonderful.