|Scent of a Woman|
|Directed by||Martin Brest|
|Screenplay by||Bo Goldman|
|Based on||Il buio e il miele|
by Giovanni Arpino
|Suggested by||Character from Profumo di donna|
by Dino Risi
|Produced by||Martin Brest|
|Cinematography||Donald E. Thorin|
|Music by||Thomas Newman|
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 irritable, blind, medically retired Army lieutenant colonel. 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. The film stars Al Pacino and Chris O'Donnell, with James Rebhorn, Philip Seymour Hoffman (credited as Philip S. Hoffman), Gabrielle Anwar, and Bradley Whitford in supporting roles.
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 Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York City.
The film was released on December 23, 1992. It received generally positive response from critics and was a box office success. Pacino won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance and the film was nominated for Best Director, Best Picture and Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published. The film won three Golden Globe Awards, for Best Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Motion Picture – Drama.
Charlie Simms is a scholarship student at Baird, an exclusive New England preparatory school. A woman hires him to watch over her uncle, retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade, over Thanksgiving weekend. Charlie accepts so he can buy a plane ticket home to Gresham, Oregon for Christmas. He discovers Frank to be a blind, highly decorated Vietnam War veteran who has become a cantankerous alcoholic.
Charlie and another student, George Willis, Jr., witness three classmates set up a prank to humiliate the headmaster, Mr. Trask. After falling victim, Trask learns of the two witnesses and unsuccessfully presses them to name the perpetrators. He privately offers Charlie a bribe: a letter of recommendation to attend Harvard University. Trask sets a meeting of the school disciplinary committee to take place the Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend.
Frank unexpectedly takes Charlie on a trip to New York City, where they stay at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. During dinner at the Oak Room, Frank reveals that the goals of his trip are to stay at a four-star hotel, to enjoy good food and wine, to visit his older brother, and to make love to a "terrific" woman, then declares his intention to commit suicide.
On Thanksgiving they pay an uninvited visit to the home of Frank's brother in White Plains, where the cause of Frank's blindness is revealed: while drunk, he juggled live grenades to show off for a group of younger officers, and one exploded. Frank deliberately provokes everyone at dinner, which ends after a heated confrontation with his nephew Randy.
As they return to New York City, Charlie tells Frank about his problem at school. Frank advises Charlie to turn informant and go to Harvard, warning him that George will probably submit to Trask's pressure, so he should act and obtain a benefit before George does. While at a restaurant, Frank notices Donna, a young woman waiting for her date. He invites her to the dance floor, where they perform a spectacular tango ("Por una Cabeza"). The evening ends after Frank visits with a high-class escort, completing the stated objectives of his trip.
Deeply despondent the next morning, Frank is uninterested in Charlie's suggestions for that day's activities until Charlie suggests test driving a new Ferrari. Frank talks the reluctant salesman into letting them take the car. Once on the road, Frank becomes depressed again, until Charlie allows him to drive. Frank is elated until he is pulled over by a police officer. Frank talks the officer into letting them go without revealing that he is blind.
After returning the car, Frank again becomes despondent and walks into traffic on Park Avenue, where he narrowly avoids being struck by multiple cars. When they return to the hotel, Frank sends Charlie to buy cigars. Charlie leaves but quickly becomes suspicious and returns to find Frank in his dress uniform, preparing to commit suicide with his service pistol. Frank backs down after Charlie convinces him that he has much to live for and should face his circumstances courageously.
On Monday morning, Charlie and George are subjected to formal inquiry by the disciplinary committee, with the rest of the student body present as an audience. Frank unexpectedly arrives and sits with Charlie. George's father pressures George to identify the three perpetrators, and he provides tentative identifications. When pressed to definitely name them, George, Jr., claims he was not wearing his contact lenses, so poor eyesight prevents him from being certain, and he defers to Charlie.
Charlie refuses to inform, so Trask recommends his expulsion. Frank changes his previous position and gives a passionate speech defending Charlie: he reveals the bribe attempt and urges the committee to value Charlie's integrity. The disciplinary committee denies George recognition for naming the perpetrators, places them on probation, and excuses Charlie from the proceedings.
As Charlie escorts Frank to his limousine, political science professor Christine Downes, a member of the disciplinary committee, commends Frank for his speech. Frank flirts with her, and impresses her by telling her the name of her perfume ("Fleurs de Rocaille"). Afterwards he accurately describes her to Charlie, including her height and hair color.[a] Charlie accompanies Frank home, where Frank happily greets his niece's children.
The three vandals are played by Nicholas Sadler (the ringleader), Todd Louiso and Matt Smith. Gene Canfield plays limo driver Manny and Frances Conroy plays Christine Downes.
Screenplay writer for Scent of a Woman, Bo Goldman, said, "If there is a moral to the film, it is that if we leave ourselves open and available to the surprising contradictions in life, we will find the strength to go on."
Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Brendan Fraser, Anthony Rapp, Randall Batinkoff, Dante Basco, Chris Rock, and Stephen Dorff were auditioned for the role of Charlie Simms. Jack Nicholson was offered the role of Lt. Col. Frank Slade but turned it down.
Pacino painstakingly researched his part in Scent of a Woman. To understand what it feels like to be blind, he met clients of New York's Associated Blind, being particularly interested in seeing from those who had lost their sight due to trauma. Clients traced the entire progression for him—from the moment they knew they would never see again to the depression and through to acceptance and adjustment. The Lighthouse, also in New York, schooled him in techniques a blind person might use to find a chair and seat themselves, pour liquid from a bottle and light a cigar.
Scent of a Woman was filmed in the following US locations.
The film earned $63,095,253 in the US and Canada and over $71 million internationally (excluding Italy), totaling $134,095,253 worldwide.
Scent of a Woman holds an 85% approval rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes from 48 reviews. The site's consensus states: "It might soar on Al Pacino's performance more than the drama itself, but what a performance it is -- big, bold, occasionally over-the-top, and finally giving the Academy pause to award the star his first Oscar." The film holds a score of 59 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 14 critic reviews, indicating "mixed 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 writes that the "two-character conceit doesn't warrant a two-and-a-half-hour running time".
Al Pacino won an Academy Award for Best Actor, the first of his career after four previous nominations for Best Actor, and his eighth overall nomination.
|20/20 Awards||Best Screenplay – Adapted||Bo Goldman||Nominated|
|Academy Awards||Best Picture||Martin Brest||Nominated|
|Best Actor||Al Pacino||Won|
|Best Screenplay – Based on Material Previously Produced or Published||Bo Goldman||Nominated|
|American Cinema Editors Awards||Best Edited Feature Film||William Steinkamp, Michael Tronick and Harvey Rosenstock||Nominated|
|Artios Awards||Best Casting for Feature Film – Drama||Ellen Lewis||Nominated|
|Awards Circuit Community Awards||Best Actor in a Leading Role||Al Pacino||Nominated|
|BMI Film & TV Awards||Film Music Award||Thomas Newman||Won|
|British Academy Film Awards||Best Screenplay – Adapted||Bo Goldman||Nominated|
|Chicago Film Critics Association Awards||Best Actor||Al Pacino||Nominated|
|Most Promising Actor||Chris O'Donnell||Won|
|Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards||Best Film||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Motion Picture – Drama||Won|
|Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama||Al Pacino||Won|
|Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture||Chris O'Donnell||Nominated|
|Best Screenplay – Motion Picture||Bo Goldman||Won|
|New York Film Critics Circle Awards||Best Actor||Al Pacino||Runner-up|
|Producers Guild of America Awards||Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures||Martin Brest||Nominated|
|Writers Guild of America Awards||Best Screenplay – Based on Material Previously Produced or Published||Bo Goldman||Nominated|
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists: