Two minor corrections for A.O. Scott‘s “Critics’ Picks” commentary about the 1957 classic Sweet Smell of Success: (a) Scott adds a nonexistent “The” to the title; and (b) Clifford Odets‘ screenplay is not “based on a novel by Ernest Lehman” but a Lehman novella called “Tell Me About It Tomorrow,” which originally appeared as a 1950 short story in Cosmopolitan magazine.
If the novella was ever sold in perfect-bound book form it’s not purchasable or even referenced online. Newark Star-Ledger critic Stephen J. Whitty informs, however, that it was published “as a Signet tie-in paperback in June of ’57 with a collage of photos on the front and back cover and an 8-page movie-still insert. It was called ‘Sweet Smell of Success and Other Stories’ by Ernest Lehman, which sold for thirty-five cents. I found mine for a couple of bucks years ago at a used bookstore.”
For my money the best account of the making of this classic film appeared in an April 2000 Vanity Fair article written by Sam Kashner. It was later included in Graydon Carter‘s “Vanity Fair‘s Tales of Hollywood: Rebels, Reds, and Graduates and the Wild Stories Behind the Making of 13 Iconic Films” (Penguin), which came out in ’08.
I love Scott’s description of Martin Milner‘s Steve Dallas character as “perhaps the whitest and squarest jazz musician in the history of cinema.”
The Times tech team continue to irk and infuriate. They refuse to play ball like everyone else in two ways. One, they don’t allow you to embed the code of this particular “Critics Picks” selection on YouTube, and two, the embed code for their own Times page version is constructed with all kinds of needless white acreage and copy below the video image. Please allow the image to be posted as a stand-alone rectangle without any of the doo-dads.