Scent of a Woman (1992)

R | 149 mins | Drama | 23 December 1992

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HISTORY

A 21 Nov 1989 HR news item announced Cannon PicturesOvidio Assonitis had optioned remake rights to the 1974 Italian film, Profumo di Donna, based on the book Il buio e il miele by Giovanni Aprino. Martin Brest was set to direct, and Jack Nicholson was in talks to play “Lt. Col. Frank Slade.” Weeks later, a 12 Dec 1989 HR item noted Universal Pictures was on board to develop the project with Pathé Communications Corp.’s 21st Century Distribution Corp., also known as Cannon Pictures.
       The following summer, Al Pacino entered into negotiations to star as Frank Slade, as stated in an 8 Aug 1991 DV brief. Pacino had initially rejected the script, according to a 4 Apr 1993 LAT article, but was encouraged by his agent, Rick Nicita, to reconsider by reading it aloud with other actors, as he tended to do when considering potential roles. In preparations to play a blind ex-Marine, Pacino spent time with nearly a dozen clients of the Associated Blind and Lighthouse organizations. He specifically sought out people who had lost their sight due to trauma. As noted in a 15 Jan 1993 DV item, Pacino modeled his speech patterns after his former manager, Martin Bregman.
       The 3 Dec 1991 HR production chart announced the start of production that day. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, New York City locations included the Plaza Hotel’s Oak Room, the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, and the the Pierre Hotel. Filming took place mostly at night so as not to disrupt business, and was briefly delayed, according to a ... More Less

A 21 Nov 1989 HR news item announced Cannon PicturesOvidio Assonitis had optioned remake rights to the 1974 Italian film, Profumo di Donna, based on the book Il buio e il miele by Giovanni Aprino. Martin Brest was set to direct, and Jack Nicholson was in talks to play “Lt. Col. Frank Slade.” Weeks later, a 12 Dec 1989 HR item noted Universal Pictures was on board to develop the project with Pathé Communications Corp.’s 21st Century Distribution Corp., also known as Cannon Pictures.
       The following summer, Al Pacino entered into negotiations to star as Frank Slade, as stated in an 8 Aug 1991 DV brief. Pacino had initially rejected the script, according to a 4 Apr 1993 LAT article, but was encouraged by his agent, Rick Nicita, to reconsider by reading it aloud with other actors, as he tended to do when considering potential roles. In preparations to play a blind ex-Marine, Pacino spent time with nearly a dozen clients of the Associated Blind and Lighthouse organizations. He specifically sought out people who had lost their sight due to trauma. As noted in a 15 Jan 1993 DV item, Pacino modeled his speech patterns after his former manager, Martin Bregman.
       The 3 Dec 1991 HR production chart announced the start of production that day. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, New York City locations included the Plaza Hotel’s Oak Room, the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, and the the Pierre Hotel. Filming took place mostly at night so as not to disrupt business, and was briefly delayed, according to a 30 Mar 1992 Newsweek item, when Al Pacino suffered a ruptured blood vessel in his eye after tripping over a shrub on Park Avenue.
       The climactic tango sequence was shot over four days in the Pierre Hotel ballroom. In preparation, Pacino and co-star Gabrielle Anwar trained for three and a half weeks with choreographers Jerry Mitchell and Paul Pellicoro. Mitchell subsequently praised Pacino’s work ethic, and co-star Gabrielle Anwar’s natural abilities, which he credited to her background studying ballet as a teenager.
       A 12 Nov 1992 DV item announced that Universal would screen the film for Academy Award consideration on 21 Nov 1992, a month prior to the 23 Dec 1992 theatrical release. The screening marked the first time Universal arranged an Oscar consideration screening to take place before a film’s commercial release.
       Critical reception was mixed. Al Pacino’s performance was lauded, but the film’s 157-minute length was criticized as indulgent and slow-paced. A 3 Jan 1993 LAT article addressed the controversial running time, and noted the first rough cut shown to Universal executives was 160 minutes long. The studio initially wanted the film edited down to 135 minutes or less. However, filmmakers found that further cuts resulted in a less nuanced, crueler version of Frank Slade. After the 157-minute version received the highest scores out of several versions that were screen-tested, Universal chairman Tom Pollock decided in Oct 1992 to release it as-is.
       Al Pacino won an Academy Award for Best Actor and a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama. Other Academy Award nominations included Directing, Writing (Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published), and Best Picture. The film received Golden Globe Awards for Best Screenplay – Motion Picture, and Best Motion Picture – Drama. Chris O’Donnell also received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture. In a 17 Feb 1993 DV advertisement, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) wrote “An Open Letter to the Industry” responding to accusations that Scent of a Woman’s Best Motion Picture – Drama win was not based on merit, but inside dealings. To prove it had not exhibited preferential treatment to Scent of a Woman, for which the HFPA had conducted interviews outside its home base in Los Angeles, CA, the organization argued it had conducted interviews for Batman Returns, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Malcolm X, and Bob Roberts (1992, see entries) in cities outside Los Angeles, as well. The open letter concluded by calling the HFPA’s accusers “at best condescending and at worst xenophobic.”
       According to a 26 Feb 1993 Screen International brief, Adriano de Micheli and Pio Angeletti, producers of the 1974 original Profumo di Donna, requested that Scent of a Woman’s title be changed to that of Giovanni Arpino’s novel, Il buio e il miele, upon which both films are based, for the Italian release of the remake. Italian distributor UIP rejected the request, hoping to capitalize on hype created by the film’s recent Academy Award nominations. Dino Risi, director of Profumo di Donna, was quoted as saying Brest’s version initially “respected our original, but the second part turned it into a re-make of Dead Poets Society.”
       The 9 Apr 1993 Screen International announced Pacino’s Academy Award win did, in fact, boost overseas box-office sales, especially in Italy. On 4 May 1993, DV cited worldwide box-office grosses of $104.5 million. The cumulative domestic gross was listed in the 21 Apr 1997 Var as $63.1 million.
       The 29 Mar 1993 Var featured an advertisement for Paul Pellicoro’s DanceSport dance studios in New York City, with the following text: “Learn to dance with the choreographer of Scent of a Woman, Paul Pellicoro, master of partner dance choreography, the man who taught Pacino to tango.”
       According to a 22 May 1996 DV brief, the film’s 20 May 1996 network television debut on ABC included altered credits. Because it had been edited for television, director Martin Brest requested that his name be removed and replaced by “Alan Smithee,” then designated by the Directors Guild of America (DGA) as the pseudonym to be used when a director had his or her name removed from a picture. Brest had done the same with the airline version of the film.
       End credits include the following statements: "Filmed entirely in New York on location and at Kaufman Astoria Studios"; “Ferrari vehicles furnished by Ferrari North America, Inc.; The Prancing Horse emblem and Cavallino design are the trademarks of Ferrari S.P.A.”; and, “Special Thanks: The New York Mayor’s Office for Film, Television, Theatre, and Broadcasting; The Emma Willard School; The Waldorf Astoria Hotel; Continental Airlines; The Plaza Hotel; Dr. Richard Koplin; Mr. Giuseppe Greco; Mr. Hugh Steward; The Lighthouse Inc.; The Associated Blind, Inc.; Italian Furniture Systems.” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
8 Aug 1991
p. 1, 18.
Daily Variety
12 Nov 1992.
---
Daily Variety
16 Dec 1992.
---
Daily Variety
15 Jan 1993.
---
Daily Variety
17 Feb 1993.
---
Daily Variety
4 May 1993.
---
Daily Variety
22 May 1996
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Nov 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Dec 1989
p. 1, 70.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Dec 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Dec 1992
p. 8, 29.
Los Angeles Times
23 Dec 1992
Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
3 Jan 1993
Calendar, p. 24.
Los Angeles Times
4 Apr 1993
Calendar, p. 27.
New York Times
23 Dec 1992
Section C, p. 9.
Newsweek
30 Mar 1992.
---
People
22 Mar 1993.
---
Screen International
26 Feb 1993.
---
Screen International
9 Apr 1993.
---
Variety
21 Dec 1992
p. 61.
Variety
1 Feb 1993.
---
Variety
29 Mar 1993.
---
Variety
21 Apr 1997.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Universal Pictures Presents
A City Light Films Production
A Martin Brest Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Cam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Chief lighting tech
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
Story boards
Art dept coord
FILM EDITORS
Post prod supv
Assoc film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Apprentice film ed
Apprentice film ed
Apprentice film ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Asst set dec
Leadman
Prop master
Asst prop
Asst prop
Const coord
Key carpenter
Scenic chargeman
2d scenic
Stand-by scenic
COSTUMES
Asst cost des
Men's ward
Women's ward
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus scoring mixer
Orch mgr
Mus preparation
Scoring rec
SOUND
Sd mixer
Supv sd ed
Supv ADR ed
ADR ed
ADR ed
ADR ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
ADR mixer
ADR rec
Foley mixer
Foley ed
Foley ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Dubbing rec
Dubbing rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Title opticals by
Title des
DANCE
Choreog
Choreog
Asst choreog
MAKEUP
Al Pacino's make-up artist
Make-up artist
Make-up artist
Al Pacino's hair stylist
Hair stylist
Hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Loc mgr
Prod assoc
Prod coord
Asst to Martin Brest
Asst to Ronald L. Schwary
Asst to G. Mac Brown
Cont supv
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Asst to Al Pacino
Security for Al Pacino
Casting assoc
Extras casting
Asst prod coord
Asst loc mgr
Loc scout
Loc scout
Loc scout
Unit pub
Picture cars
Catering
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Craft service
Parking coord
Post prod asst
Voice casting
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stand-by scenic
COLOR PERSONNEL
Negative timer
Col by
Film processed by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Suggested by a character from the Italian film Profumo di Donna written by Ruggero Maccari and Dino Risi (Dean Film, 1974), and based on the novel Il buio e il miele by Giovanni Arpino (Milan, 1974).
SONGS
"Evangeline," written by Robbie Robertson, performed by Emmylou Harris, courtesy of Reprise Records, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"El Relicario," written by Jose Padilla, performed by The Tango Project, courtesy of Elektra Nonesuch, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Por Una Cabeza," written by Carlos Garde, performed by The Tango Project, courtesy of Elektra Nonesuch, by arrangement with Warner Special Productsl
+
SONGS
"Evangeline," written by Robbie Robertson, performed by Emmylou Harris, courtesy of Reprise Records, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"El Relicario," written by Jose Padilla, performed by The Tango Project, courtesy of Elektra Nonesuch, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Por Una Cabeza," written by Carlos Garde, performed by The Tango Project, courtesy of Elektra Nonesuch, by arrangement with Warner Special Productsl
"Caminito," written by Juan De Dios Filiberto, performed by The Tango Project, courtesy of Elektra Nonesuch, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"La Violetera," written by Jose Padilla, performed by The Tango Project, courtesy of Elektra Nonesuch, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Vida Mia," written by Jose Padilla, performed by The Tango Project, courtesy of Elektra Nonesuch, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Vida Mia," written by Osvaldo and Emilio Fresedo, performed by The Tango Project, courtesy of Elektra Nonesuch, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Adios Muchachos," written by Julio Cesar Sanders and Cesar Filipe Vedani, performed by The Tango Project, courtesy of Elektra Nonesuch, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"El Choclo," written by Angel Villoldo and Marambia Catan, performed by The Tango Project, courtesy of Elektra Nonesuch, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"A Media Luz," written by Edgardo Donato and Carlos Cesar Lenzi, performed by The Tango Project, courtesy of Elektra Nonesuch, by arrangement with Warner Special Products.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
23 December 1992
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 23 December 1992
Production Date:
began 3 December 1991
Copyright Claimant:
Universal City Studios, Inc.
Copyright Date:
17 February 1993
Copyright Number:
PA602881
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed with Panavision® cameras & lenses
Duration(in mins):
149
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
32138
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At the elite Baird preparatory school in New Hampshire, senior Charlie Simms seeks a job for the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend. A wealthy classmate named Harry Havemeyer invites Charlie on a ski trip to Vermont, but Charlie declines. Havemeyer’s friend, George Willis, Jr., reminds him that Charlie is on financial aid. As they walk away, Havemeyer jokes that it is customary during holidays for the “lord of the manor to offer drippings to the poor.” That afternoon, answering an advertisement for a weekend job, Charlie goes to the home of Karen Rossi, who is leaving town with her husband and two children, and needs someone to watch over her uncle, Lt. Col. Frank Slade. In the backyard guesthouse, she leaves Charlie to get acquainted with Frank, a blind former Marine who drinks too much, and punctuates his fast-talking barbs with “Hoo-ah!” Frank demands to be called “Colonel” or “Frank,” not “Sir,” and wants to know whether Charlie has good skin, because his aides must be presentable. Charlie explains he is from Oregon, where his mother and stepfather run a convenience store, and attends Baird on a merit scholarship. Frank disparages Baird students as over-privileged snobs. When Charlie offers a retort, Frank loses his temper and shouts orders as if Charlie is a Marine recruit. The boy admits he needs the job to pay for a plane ticket home for Christmas. Frank dismisses him. Charlie informs Karen Rossi that he failed the interview, but she assures him the job is his. That night, Charlie performs work-study duties at the Baird library. Just before closing, George Willis, Jr. appears, begging to borrow a book reserved for someone else. He and Charlie leave ... +


At the elite Baird preparatory school in New Hampshire, senior Charlie Simms seeks a job for the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend. A wealthy classmate named Harry Havemeyer invites Charlie on a ski trip to Vermont, but Charlie declines. Havemeyer’s friend, George Willis, Jr., reminds him that Charlie is on financial aid. As they walk away, Havemeyer jokes that it is customary during holidays for the “lord of the manor to offer drippings to the poor.” That afternoon, answering an advertisement for a weekend job, Charlie goes to the home of Karen Rossi, who is leaving town with her husband and two children, and needs someone to watch over her uncle, Lt. Col. Frank Slade. In the backyard guesthouse, she leaves Charlie to get acquainted with Frank, a blind former Marine who drinks too much, and punctuates his fast-talking barbs with “Hoo-ah!” Frank demands to be called “Colonel” or “Frank,” not “Sir,” and wants to know whether Charlie has good skin, because his aides must be presentable. Charlie explains he is from Oregon, where his mother and stepfather run a convenience store, and attends Baird on a merit scholarship. Frank disparages Baird students as over-privileged snobs. When Charlie offers a retort, Frank loses his temper and shouts orders as if Charlie is a Marine recruit. The boy admits he needs the job to pay for a plane ticket home for Christmas. Frank dismisses him. Charlie informs Karen Rossi that he failed the interview, but she assures him the job is his. That night, Charlie performs work-study duties at the Baird library. Just before closing, George Willis, Jr. appears, begging to borrow a book reserved for someone else. He and Charlie leave the library together, and see Harry Havemeyer on a ladder, affixing something to the top of a lamppost. Steadying the ladder are Havemeyer’s friends, Trent Potter and Jimmy Jameson. A teacher, Mrs. Hunsaker, approaches Charlie and George. She fhears a commotion, and notices a group of boys scurrying across the lawn. She asks George and Charlie to identify the boys, but they deny having seen them. The next morning, the reviled Headmaster Trask drives onto campus in a Jaguar he was recently gifted by Baird’s trustees, and parks underneath the lamppost where Charlie and George spotted Havemeyer the night before. As Trask gets out of the car, an unseen Havemeyer, Trent Potter, and Jimmy Jameson recite a poem via loudspeaker, accusing Trask of brown-nosing the trustees. A balloon dangling from the lamppost inflates, revealing a derisive cartoon. Trask punctures the balloon with his car key, and white paint rains down, ruining the car. Trask gets word from Mrs. Hunsaker that George Willis, Jr., and Charlie witnessed the prank, but when they are called to Trask’s office, George and Charlie remain mum. Trask announces an interdisciplinary committee will convene Monday morning, and George and Charlie will be expelled if they do not name the perpetrators. He dismisses George and speaks to Charlie alone, offering to help get him into Harvard University if he cooperates. Outside Trask’s office, George pulls Charlie aside and encourages him to “stonewall everybody.” He promises to devise a strategy for Monday morning and instructs Charlie to call him at the Sugarbush Ski Lodge in Vermont. Charlie reports at the Rossi home for his weekend job. Karen warns him not to let Frank drink too much or dial “900” numbers for phone sex, then sets out for Albany, New York, with her family. Charlie finds Frank talking on the telephone in the guesthouse. He barks orders for Charlie to pack his Blue Dress uniform. Charlie learns Frank has arranged a trip to New York City. He argues such a trip would be too much responsibility for him to undertake, but Frank ignores the boy’s protests. On the flight to New York, Frank flirts with the stewardess and correctly guesses her name. Frank explains to Charlie how he identified her perfume, which is from England, and her California accent, before concluding her name must be Daphne. He declares that women are his “first love,” and Ferrari sports cars are a distant second. That afternoon, they check into a luxurious suite at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Charlie must return to Baird that night, and Frank grants him permission, as long as he joins him for dinner at the Oak Room. On the way there, Frank senses a heaviness about Charlie, who reveals his troubles at school. At the restaurant, Charlie reads the menu to Frank, and asks how he can afford this trip. Frank confesses he plans to shoot himself at the end of the weekend. He also tells Charlie he lied about the last flight out of New York, and the boy is stuck there. The next morning, Charlie awakens to find Frank being fitted for a new suit. Frank tells him Sofia, the tailor, will fit him too, so they are both properly dressed for Thanksgiving at Frank’s brother’s house in White Plains. Charlie remembers to call George Willis, Jr.. Frank overhears as George tells Charlie to maintain the status quo. Frank predicts George’s rich father will pressure him into confessing, and encourages Charlie to save himself by doing the same. A limousine takes them to White Plains, where Frank surprises his brother, W. R. Slade, and family. A tense Thanksgiving dinner ensues. Frank gets drunk and tells bawdy stories. His nephew, Randy, confronts him over past transgressions. He tells Charlie that Frank lost his eyesight by drunkenly juggling grenades. He recalls that Frank was “earmarked for general,” but was passed over for promotion several times due to his recalcitrant behavior. Frank loses his temper and attacks Randy. On his way out, Frank admits to his brother that he is no good and never has been. In the morning, Charlie finds Frank assembling his gun. Panicked that he is about to end his life, Charlie demands the bullets. They go to a barber, where Charlie discusses the Harvard bribe that Headmaster Trask offered him. Frank urges Charlie to take the deal, but the boy argues it would be against his conscience. Frank takes Charlie for a drink at a hotel ballroom, where he sniffs out a beautiful young woman named Donna and asks her to tango. Charlie gives him rough coordinates of the dance floor, and Frank blindly leads Donna in a beautiful tango that mesmerizes everyone around them. Later, limousine driver Manny arranges for Frank to visit a high-class prostitute. The next morning, Charlie finds Frank lethargic in bed, and persuades him to get up by offering to take him for a ride. At a Ferrari showroom, Frank bribes a salesman to allow him and the underage Charlie to test-drive a car. Charlie takes the Ferrari to a desolate area, where he allows Frank to drive. Frank’s mood lightens as he speeds through the streets. He stops only when a policeman pulls him over, at which point he hides his blindness, and uses his charm to elude a speeding ticket. Later, Charlie learns that George has gone home to his family, and tries to call him there, to no avail. Frank sends Charlie to fetch cigars. He returns to find Frank in his Blue Dress uniform, preparing to kill himself. Charlie tries to stop Frank, who aims the gun at him. Charlie challenges Frank to shoot, insisting that his life will be over, anyway, if he is expelled from Baird. As Charlie finally persuades Frank to relinquish the gun, they both cry. Frank confesses his desire to be loved by a woman. Later, they fly back to New Hampshire. As they discuss the interdisciplinary committee awaiting Charlie, Frank asks why his father is not helping. Charlie explains that his father left him, and he and his stepfather do not get along. Frank drops Charlie off at school just before the committee is set to convene. In front of the student body, Charlie joins George Willis, Jr., and his father on a stage with Headmaster Trask. George initially claims he saw no one at the lamppost, but George, Sr. forces him to change his answer. George, Jr. then states that, while he was not wearing his contacts, he might have seen Harry Havemeyer, Trent Potter, and Jimmy Jameson. Frank interrupts, joining Charlie onstage. When questioned, Charlie maintains his silence. Trask announces that George will not be punished, nor will Havemeyer, Potter, or Jameson since George cannot be sure he saw them; however, he will recommend to the disciplinary committee that Charlie be expelled. Frank gives a rousing speech in Charlie’s defense, prompting a standing ovation. The interdisciplinary committee decides to put Havemeyer, Potter, and Jameson on probation, and excuse Charlie from any further response. Outside, political science teacher Christine Downes introduces herself to Frank. He impresses her by guessing her perfume, then asks her on a date. As Charlie leads him back to the car, Frank accurately describes Christine’s height, hair color, and “beautiful brown eyes.” +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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