Your fate in my hand

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German title Your fate in my hand
Original title Sweet Smell of Success
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1957
length 96 minutes
Age rating FSK 16
Director Alexander Mackendrick
script Clifford Odets ,
Ernest Lehman
production James Hill ,
Burt Lancaster
music Elmer Bernstein
camera James Wong Howe
cut Alan Crosland

Sweet Smell of Success is an American film drama directed by Alexander Mackendrick from the year 1957 .


JJ Hunsecker is a megalomaniac New York gossip reporter who has a huge influence on public opinion through his columns. When his younger sister Susan falls in love with the destitute jazz musician Dallas, Hunsecker does everything in his power to destroy the relationship. He launches an unprecedented defamation campaign against Dallas and hires unscrupulous journalist Sidney Falco to monitor the couple around the clock. Hunsecker's goal is to portray the musician as a communist and thus ruin his reputation. At the end of the film, Sidney Falco is accused of doing something to sister Hunsecker-Susan. However, this had saved her from a suicide attempt and is now accused because Susan does not dare to tell her brother anything other than what he wants to hear. Eventually Susan leaves the country and Sidney Falco is beaten up and taken away by Hunsecker's entourage.


Your fate in my hand is based on Ernest Lehman's novella Sweet Smell of Success , published in 1950 under the title Tell Me About It Tomorrow! published in Cosmopolitan magazine . The well-known newspaper columnist Walter Winchell served as a model for the figure of Hunsecker.

On behalf of the production company Hecht- Hill- Lancaster , Lehman also wrote the script for the film adaptation and was at times in discussion as a director. Since the film distributor United Artists had concerns about entrusting the project to a directorial debutante, Alexander Mackendrick was awarded the contract.

One of the main roles was played by Tony Curtis , who for the first time portrayed an unsympathetic character in Your Fate in My Hand . Orson Welles and Hume Cronyn were among the talks for the role of JJ Hunsecker . However, United Artists insisted on the crowd puller Burt Lancaster , who had already played successfully in Trapeze alongside Tony Curtis and was also involved as a producer on the film.

When Ernest Lehman could not continue working on the script due to illness, the playwright Clifford Odets stepped in for him. Since he carried out a complete overhaul of the material in a month-long process, filming began without a finished script because the start of production could not be postponed.

Your fate in my hand celebrated its premiere on June 27, 1957 and was released in West German cinemas on April 25, 1958. While the reviews were mostly positive, the film turned out to be a commercial failure. Today it is considered a classic of film noir .

The musical adaptation of the film by Marvin Hamlisch , Craig Carnelia and John Guare premiered on Broadway in 2002 and was nominated for seven Tony Awards . John Lithgow won the award for his portrayal of JJ Hunsecker.


  • Lexicon of international film : A film with a strongly psychologically accentuated dramatic plot, with cynical undertones and harsh criticism of the corruption of a power- and money-greedy mass press. Noteworthy because of the intelligent direction, exact presentation and the effective black and white photography.


British Film Academy Awards 1958

  • Nomination for Best Foreign Actor for Tony Curtis

Laurel Awards 1958

  • Nomination for Best Supporting Actress for Barbara Nichols
  • Nominated for Best Actor in a Drama for Tony Curtis

National Film Preservation Board

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Your fate in my hand. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed April 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used