Of note for Al Pacino’s theatrical, virtuoso star turn as a blind ex-military officer who introduces a greenhorn to the things of life, Scent of a Woman indulgently stretches a modest conceit well past the breaking point.
Universal release is based on a 1974 Italian film directed by Dino Risi [from Giovanni Arpino’s novel Il buio e il miele], it stands more as a reconceptualization than a remake. Oddly, original title was kept when it has next to nothing to do with anything.
Script takes the p.o.v. of teenager Charlie Simms (Chris O’Donnell), a straight-arrow student at a snooty Eastern boarding school. While the other boys head for Vermont to ski during Thanksgiving vacation, O’Donnell is obliged to earn a few bucks by caring for a sightless lieutenant colonel (Pacino) whose family is leaving for the long weekend.
Frank Slade is a feisty, combative, irascible, remarkably insightful character who holds on to a genuine, if embittered, lust for life. He whisks the reluctant Charlie to New York, where he intends to savor some of his favorite things one last time. Most of the action is confined to the pair’s suite at the Waldorf-Astoria.
O’Donnell does pretty well holding his own, although for dramatic purposes the character stays the same.
Reportedly, two shorter versions of the film were tested at previews but went over less well with auds than the release cut.
1992: Best Actor (Al Pacino).
Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Screenplay Adaptation