A psychopathic gossip columnist (Burt Lancaster) rules Broadway with an iron fist, destroying everyone who dares to cross him. These include a small time press agent (Tony Curtis) and a sister (Susan Harrison) on whom he casts an incestuous eye. The dialogue (by Ernest Lehman and Clifford Odets) is etched in acid, and Mackendrick’s direction perfectly captures the dark side of The Great White Way. The theatrical New York of the 1950s has by now been Disneyfied beyond recognition. But its scuzzy denizens remain recognizably alive and malevolent to us.
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