February 05 only

This film is part of our Mad Men Weekend with Matt Zoller Seitz, which runs from February 5th-7th. Read more about the series here.


“One of those rare films where you remember the names of the characters because you remember them — as people, as types, as benchmarks.” – Roger Ebert, The Chicago Sun-Times

“I’d hate to take a bite out of you, Sidney,” powerful New York gossip columnist J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster) tells toadying press agent Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis). “You’re a cookie full of arsenic.” Based on Ernest Lehman’s novella, and adapted by Lehman and playwright Clifford Odets (who supplied many of the more corrosive and baroque insults), Sweet Smell of Success is one of the ultimate New York night films, and a study in power. Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner and his writers had it in the backs of their minds throughout the series’ run because of the story’s fascination with how images can be shaped or shattered, and because the dialogue has a bowstring snap. Many of the ad agency’s scandals, power plays and rivalries echo scenes from “Success”, in particular any scene between Don or Roger and their ambitious and sometimes treacherous underling Pete Campbell.  Alexander MacKendrick, a veteran of Ealing Studio comedies, directed the entire film on location in New York after sundown, which made it one of the more expensive films released by United Artists in the 1950s; it was a box-office flop, but its reputation continues to grow.

Each screening will be accompanied by a video essay from film editor Serena Bramble, which Seitz will perform live. A book signing of Seitz’s latest book “Mad Men Carousel: The Complete Critical Companion”, will also follow each screening.

1957, 96 min, DCP



SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS: Upcoming Showtimes