Scent of a Woman (1992 film)
|Scent of a Woman|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Martin Brest|
|Produced by||Martin Brest|
|Screenplay by||Bo Goldman|
by Giovanni Arpino
|Music by||Thomas Newman|
|Cinematography||Donald E. Thorin|
|Edited by||William Steinkamp
City Light Films
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$134.1 million|
Scent of a Woman is a 1992 American drama film produced and directed by Martin Brest that tells the story of a preparatory school student who takes a job as an assistant to an irascible, blind, medically retired Army officer. The film is a remake of Dino Risi's 1974 Italian film Profumo di donna, adapted by Bo Goldman from the novel Il buio e il miele (Italian: Darkness and Honey) by Giovanni Arpino and from the 1974 screenplay by Ruggero Maccari and Dino Risi. The film stars Al Pacino and Chris O'Donnell, with James Rebhorn, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Gabrielle Anwar.
Pacino won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance and the film was nominated for Best Director, Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film won three major awards at the Golden Globe Awards: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Motion Picture – Drama.
The film was shot primarily around New York state, and also on location at Princeton University, at the Emma Willard School, an all-girls school in Troy, New York, and at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York City.
Charlie Simms is a student at an exclusive New England prep school. Unlike most of his peers, Charlie was not born to a wealthy family. To pay for a flight home to Oregon for Christmas, Charlie accepts a temporary job over Thanksgiving weekend looking after retired Army Ranger Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade, whom Charlie discovers to be a cantankerous, blind alcoholic.
Charlie and George Willis, Jr., another student at the preparatory school, witness three students setting up a prank for the school's headmaster, Mr. Trask. Following the prank, Trask presses Charlie and George to divulge the names of the perpetrators. Trask offers Charlie a bribe, a letter of recommendation that would virtually guarantee his acceptance to Harvard. Charlie continues to remain silent but appears conflicted.
Shortly after Charlie arrives, Slade unexpectedly whisks Charlie off on a trip to New York City. Slade reserves a room at the Waldorf-Astoria. During dinner at the Oak Room, Slade glibly states the goals of the trip, which involve enjoying luxurious accommodations in New York before committing suicide. Charlie is taken aback and does not know if Slade is serious.
They pay an uninvited surprise visit to Slade's brother's home in White Plains for Thanksgiving dinner. Slade is an unpleasant surprise for the family, as he deliberately provokes everyone and the night ends in acrimony. During this time the cause of Slade's blindness is also revealed as a drunken trainee mishap with a grenade.
As they return to New York, Charlie tells Slade about his complications at school. Slade advises Charlie to inform on his classmates and go to Harvard, warning him that George will probably be pressured into not maintaining his silence. Later at a restaurant, Slade is aware of Donna, a young woman waiting for her date. Although blind, Slade leads Donna in a spectacular tango ("Por una Cabeza") on the dance floor. That night, he hires a female escort.
Deeply despondent the next morning, Slade responds to Charlie's suggestion that they test drive a Ferrari Mondial t. Charlie lets Slade drive the car and Slade begins speeding, attracting the attention of a police officer, whom Slade manages to appease without giving away his blindness.
When they return to the hotel, Slade sends Charlie out on a list of errands. Charlie initially leaves the room but quickly becomes suspicious. Charlie returns to find Slade in his full-dress military uniform, preparing to commit suicide with a gun from which Charlie had made Slade promise to remove the bullets earlier, regarding which Slade states "I lied". Charlie intervenes and attempts to grab Slade's gun. Slade, however, easily overpowers him, threatening to shoot Charlie before himself. They enter a tense argument, with both grappling for the gun; however, after Charlie bravely calms Slade, Slade backs down. The two return to New England.
At school, Charlie and George are subjected to a formal inquiry in front of the entire student body and the student/faculty disciplinary committee. As headmaster Trask is opening the proceedings, Slade unexpectedly returns to the school, joining Charlie on the auditorium stage for support. For his defense, George has enlisted the help of his wealthy father, using his poor vision as an excuse before being pressured by his father into naming all three of the perpetrators. When pressed for more details, George passes the burden to Charlie. Although struggling with his decision, Charlie gives no information, so Trask recommends Charlie's expulsion.
Slade cannot contain himself and launches into a passionate speech defending Charlie and questioning the integrity of a system that rewards informing on classmates. Slade reveals that there was an attempt to buy Charlie's testimony and that regardless of whether his silence is right or wrong, Charlie refuses to sell anybody out to advance his future. He tells them that Charlie has shown integrity in his actions and insists the committee not expel him because this is what great leaders are made of, and promises he will make them proud in the future. The disciplinary committee decides to place on probation the students named by George, and to give George neither recognition nor commendation for his testimony. They excuse Charlie from any punishment and allow him to have no further involvement in the inquiries, to thunderous applause from the student body.
As Charlie escorts Slade to his limo, a female political science teacher, Christine Downes, who was part of the disciplinary committee, approaches Slade, commending him for his speech. Seeing a spark between them, Charlie tells Downes that Slade served on President Lyndon Johnson's staff. In their brief encounter, Slade deftly establishes Downes is single and surprises her by correctly identifying her perfume scent as Fleurs de Rocaille; they agree to get together sometime and "talk politics".
Charlie takes Slade home. The colonel walks towards his house and greets his niece's young children happily as Charlie watches by the limo.
- Al Pacino as Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade
- Chris O'Donnell as Charlie Simms
- James Rebhorn as Mr. Trask
- Gabrielle Anwar as Donna
- Philip Seymour Hoffman as George Willis, Jr.
- Gene Canfield as Manny
- Richard Venture as William "W.R." Slade
- Bradley Whitford as Randy Slade
- June Squibb as Mrs. Hunsaker
- Frances Conroy as Christine Downes
- Rochelle Oliver as Gretchen Slade
- Tom Riis Farrell as Garry Slade
- Nicholas Sadler as Harry Havemeyer
- Todd Louiso as Trent Potter
- Matt Smith as Jimmy Jameson
- Ron Eldard as Officer Gore
- Margaret Eginton as Gail
- Sally Murphy as Karen Rossi
- Michael Feldman as Donny Rossi
- Julian and Max Stein as Willie Rossi
- Leonard Gaines as Freddie Bisco
Scent of a Woman was filmed in the following locations:
- Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA
- Dumbo, Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA
- Emma Willard School, 285 Pawling Avenue, Troy, New York, USA
- Hempstead House, Sands Point Preserve, 95 Middleneck Road, Port Washington, Long Island, New York, USA (school)
- Kaufman Astoria Studios, 3412 36th Street, Astoria, Queens, New York City, New York, USA (studio)
- Long Island, New York, USA
- Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA
- Newark Liberty International Airport, Newark, New Jersey, USA
- New York City, New York, USA
- Pierre Hotel, Fifth Avenue & 61st Street, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA (ballroom where Frank and Donna dance the tango)
- Port Washington, Long Island, New York, USA
- Prince's Bay, Staten Island, New York City, New York, USA
- Princeton, New Jersey, USA
- Queens, New York City, New York, USA
- Rockefeller College—Upper Madison Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, USA
- Staten Island, New York City, New York, USA
- The Oak Room, The Plaza Hotel, 5th Avenue, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA (where Frank and Charlie have dinner)
- Troy, New York, USA
- Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, 301 Park Avenue, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA
Scent of a Woman was released to a mixed critical reception, with Pacino receiving rave reviews for his performance. The film holds an 88% approval rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, and a score of 59 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 14 critic reviews.
Some criticized the film for its length. Variety's Todd McCarthy said it "goes on nearly an hour too long". Newsweek's David Ansen believes that the "two-character conceit doesn't warrant a two-and-a-half-hour running time".
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
- 2005: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:
- 2006: AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers – Nominated
- Box Office Information for Scent of a Woman. The Wrap. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
- Fox, David J. (1993-01-25). "Pacino Gives Oscar Derby a New Twist : Awards: Actor wins Golden Globe for role in 'Scent of a Woman,' which also wins as best dramatic picture, surprising Academy Awards competitors.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
- "A Sight For Sore Eyes". Newsweek. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
- "Scent of a Woman". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
- Scent of a Woman at the Internet Movie Database
- Wells, Jeffrey (1993-01-03). "LENGTH OF 'A WOMAN' : Minutes, Shminutes--Does It Play?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
- "Scent of a Woman". Variety. 1991-12-31. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
- "Not A Season To Be Jolly". Newsweek. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-14.
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-14.
- Fox, David J. (1992-12-29). "Weekend Box Office Holiday Take a Nice Gift for the Studios". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
- Fox, David J. (1993-01-26). "Weekend Box Office `Aladdin's' Magic Carpet Ride". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-18.
- Welkos, Robert W. (1993-02-02). "Weekend Box Office `Sniper' Takes Aim at `Aladdin'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-18.
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