Cookie Full of Arsenic

The Sweet Smell of Success

The Sweet Smell of Success

I’d hate to take a bite of you.

You’re a cookie full of arsenic.

That’s just one of the unforgettable quotes from the movie, The Sweet Smell of Success my students viewed this week.

Set in 1950s against the backdrop of Times Square, the film dives into the relationships of newsmen, public relations flacks, politicians, cops and dames.

The story—brilliantly filmed in shades of gray evoking film noir–centers on press agent Sydney Falco, who stops at nothing—bribery, graft, lies and pimping—to get his clients press coverage.

The movie holds up after a half-century, urging viewers to consider the sleazy tactics of promoting a client.

But what grabs me is the crisp dialog.

Imagine Sydney Falco and columnist J J Hunsecker swatting at each other with words carved from acid.

You’ve got more twists than a barrel full of pretzels.

I don’t relish shooting a mosquito with an elephant gun.

I got nothing against women thinking with their hips. That’s their nature. Just like it’s a man’s nature to go out and hustle and get the things he wants.

Worth viewing, the film shows that stooping to seamy solutions will bite you in the end.

As one of my students observed, the film reflects the old-fashioned sentiment that you should be punished for your bad deeds. Indeed.

Here’s a clip:


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in authenticity, cinema, ethics, film, framing, journalism, news bias, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Cookie Full of Arsenic

  1. jumeirajames says:

    I still remember the scene with the senator and his ‘escort’ with a boy in tow ‘bearding’ for him. But Falco give him some straight talk


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