Scent of a Woman is a 1992 American drama film produced and directed by Martin Brest. The film stars Al Pacino andChris O’Donnell, with James Rebhorn, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Gabrielle Anwar.A remake of Dino Risi‘s 1974 Italian film Profumo di donna, it was adapted by Bo Goldman from the novel Il buio e ilmiele (Italian:Darkness and Honey) by Giovanni Arpino and from the 1974 screenplay by RuggeroMaccari and Dino Risi.
Plot: Charlie Simms is a financially backward student at an exclusive New England prep school where most of the students are from wealthy families. To pay for his journey back homefor 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 and 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.Slade visits his brother which turns an unpleasant one 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 tangoon the dance floor.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.