Checking in with Chico

Feb 25, 2011

Sweet Smell of Success has a lot of boldfaced names associated with it: Tony Curtis, Burt Lancaster, Alexander Mackendrick, Ernest Lehman, Clifford Odets, James Wong Howe. Maybe it’s because of the legends behind the film’s performances, direction, writing, and cinematography that you don’t very often hear about the music in it. Steve Dollar, in today’s Wall Street Journal, has set about correcting that oversight by interviewing drummer Chico Hamilton, whose Chico Hamilton Quintet is prominently featured in the film’s several nightclub scenes. Still kicking at eighty-nine, Hamilton chats casually with Dollar about his participation in the film, that “dynamite dude” Tony Curtis, his dialogue suggestions, and being part of a brief jazz renaissance in cinema (he also scored Repulsion).