Thursday, July 10, 2008

Who's Almost Who In Knickerbocker Village History: Tony Curtis And Sam Levene

A clip from the critically acclaimed "Sweet Smell Of Success." It features Tony Curtis, born Bernard Schwartz. He was a Seward Park High School graduate. I believe it was 1942, the same year as my Aunt Rose and one year ahead of Pearl (Beer) Bueller, Nancy Bueller's mother). It also features Sam Levene, who lived on East 9th Street, between C and D. He went to the old PS 64, my mother's school, also on East 9th Street. Burt Lancaster was also a New York City boy, from East Harlem. Sweet Smell Of Success was loosely based on Walter Winchell. from wikipedia:
Sweet Smell of Success is a 1957 American film noir made by Hill-Hecht-Lancaster Productions and released by United Artists. It was directed by Alexander Mackendrick and stars Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, Susan Harrison and Martin Milner. The screenplay was by Clifford Odets, Ernest Lehman and Alexander Mackendrick from the novelette by Lehman. The film tells the story of a powerful newspaper columnist named J.J. Hunsecker (Lancaster) who uses his connections to ruin his sister's relationship with a man he deems inappropriate. Lancaster's role is based on famed New York columnist Walter Winchell.
In 1993, Sweet Smell of Success was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". Sidney Falco (Curtis) has been unable to get a mention in J.J. Hunsecker's (Lancaster) influential newspaper column because he has been unable to make good on his promise to break up the romance between Hunsecker's younger sister Susan (Harrison) and Steve Dallas (Milner), an up-and-coming jazz guitarist. Blacklisted, and desperate to return to Hunsecker's good graces, Falco decides to spread false rumors that Dallas is a dope-smoking Communist in a rival column. When even this plan fails, however, Hunsecker orders Falco to plant reefers on the musician and have him arrested and roughed up by Harry Kello (Meyer), a corrupt police officer.

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