Scent Of A Woman (1992)

Posted: June 2, 2011 in Hollywood
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Scent Of A Woman


Frank is a retired Lt Col in the US army. He’s blind and impossible to get along with. Charlie is at school and is looking forward to going to university; to help pay for a trip home for Christmas, he agrees to look after Frank over thanksgiving. Frank’s niece says this will be easy money, but she didn’t reckon on Frank spending his thanksgiving in New York. –IMDb


Martin Brest


Giovanni Arpino (novel), Bo Goldman (screenplay),  Ruggero Maccari (character from Profumo Di Donna) (suggestion) and Dino Risi (character from Profumo Di Donna) (suggestion)


Al PacinoChris O’Donnell and James Rebhorn




 Col. Frank Slade has a very special plan for the weekend. It involves travel, women, good food, fine wine, the tango, chauffeured limousines and a loaded forty-five. And he’s bringing Charlie along for the ride. 

Adapted by Bo Goldman from the novel Il buio e il miele (Italian: Darkness and Honey) by Giovanni Arpino and from the 1974 screenplay for the movie Profumo di donna by Ruggero Maccari and Dino Risi, Martin Brest’s ‘Scent Of A Woman’ is evergreen classic from the early 90’s. Movies often have lines that become part of our culture. The line from this one is hoo-ha!

This film may look plain but it isn’t: it’s a very strong one, showing us how someone who lost all faith in life (Frank – Al Pacino) can learn from someone whose life may end by doing something right (Charlie – Chris O’Donnell): not selling himself for his future. At the same time, Charlie will learn that sometimes you shouldn’t trust everything people tell you: usually it is easier to speak the right thing than actually DO the right thing. It is a beautiful film, to be watched peacefully: believe me, if in the beginning you will wonder how it is possible that someone like Colonel Frank Slade, by the end you will like him more that you thought possible.


SCENT OF A WOMAN (1992) is an outstanding piece of work! The legendary Al Pacino FINALLY took home the coveted Best Actor Oscar for his brilliant work in this film and he shouldn’t have to apologize for it. Yes, he should have won for his work in THE GODFATHER and SCARFACE, but too many actors to be named have been sadly overlooked for their best work.


Pacino perfectly essays the role of retired Colonel Frank Slade, who was compelled to retirement being blinded during duty(due to his own stupidity and drinking habit). Stuck living with his niece and her family in their guest house and drawing monthly stipends from the government, Col. Slade is an embittered man of late middle age. Slade’s niece has hired local boys’ school student Charlie Simms (young Chris O’Donnell in a very underrated, genuine performance) to take care of Frank for the weekend during the Thanksgiving holidays. Slade opts to take Charlie with him on a weekend of luxury and reckless abandon in New York. Meanwhile, Charlie must wrestle with the moral dilemma of “should he or shouldn’t he” squeal on his fellow classmates, who he along with another student saw commit a punishable act prior to the holidays. Charlie is to go before the disciplinary board upon his return. Charlie and Frank are two extraordinary actors in the film, “Scent of a Woman.” They are a perfect pair, one who has always stood firmly for what he believes in and the other one who is learning how to do just that.

Still of Al Pacino and Gabrielle Anwar in Scent Of A Woman


Al Pacino is extraordinary, he steals every scene he is in, truly crafting a superb and incredible performance. One of his greatest performances ever and in the history of cinema. Chris O’Donnell is marvelous, a great performance. It’s absolutely unforgettable and flawless. The supporting cast is golden, too….Gabrielle Anwar (charming as the beautiful young lady that Slade gets to tango with!), the always reliable James Rebhorn (pitch perfect as the stern headmaster of the boys’ school), a young-looking Phillip Seymour Hoffman (terrific as Charlie’s shifty “best friend” at the boy’s school, who was his fellow witness), Richard Venture (as Frank’s older brother W.R. Slade), a young Bradley Whitford (wonderful as Frank’s resentful nephew Randy in my favorite scene of the film!), Ron Eldard (winning as the NY cop who stops Slade and Charlie for speeding), and a young and vibrant Frances Conroy (as an English teacher at Charlie’s school who I always imagine that Frank ends up with!).


There are great scenes in “Scent of a Woman” from the ruckus at Thanksgiving dinner when Frank takes Charlie, both uninvited, to his brother’s house where the relatives don’t think much of him to at one point driving a Ferrari despite being blind. But the most wonderful moments are the few on the dance floor. The scene of Frank(Al) and Donna(Gabrielle) doesn’t get out of my thoughts. From the moment he catches her perfume, through the introduction, till the sweetest tango dance ever. Of course, the choice for Donna – Gabrielle Anwar, is perfect, she plays the shy (very) pretty woman very good. The scene when the colonel wants to shoot himself and suddenly decides to shoot the boy,too is brilliant. The fight between the two men -as well as Charlie’s attempt to convince the colonel give up his plan- is full of suspense and very well structured, so it’s impossible to anticipate how the things will work out. The climax scene in the disciplinary meeting, though a bit cliched, is wonderful. Pacino’s speech is absolutely amazing. He delivers it with a panache.


The big lesson from SCENT OF A WOMAN is about the true meaning of honor. I like the dichotomy of Slade’s situation with Charlie’s and how Charlie, the student, inadvertently teaches Slade a valuable life lesson, that through the toughest of times and situations, it is the human SPIRIT that must remain intact if one is to truly LIVE!


Riveting, electrifying and satisfying. A maginificent film. A heartfelt, funny and outstanding experience. Powerful and very touching throughout. An excellent movie in every way. Superb storytelling and stunningly crafted. A towering and masterful drama. Wickedly funny and spectacular. A film you cant turn away from. You cant stop but smile when you think of this movie. A two and a half hour pleasure from start to finish.


Nominated for Best Picture, directed by Oscar nominated director Martin Brest (MIDNIGHT RUN, BEVERLY HILLS COP) and starring the one and only Al Pacino in his Oscar-winning role, SCENT OF A WOMAN is a film to enjoy over and over! I refer it to everyone, everyone who want to watch a beautiful movie with great performances. I rate it 9 out of 10.

Watch the trailer…


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