Scent of a Womanis a 1992 drama film directed by Martin Brest that tells the story of a preparatory school student who takes a job as an assistant to an irascible, blind, medically retired Army officer. It stars Al Pacino , Chris O'Donnell , James Rebhorn , Philip Seymour Hoffman , and Gabrielle Anwar . It is a remake of the Italian movieProfumo di donna(1974), directed by Dino Risi .
The movie was adapted by Bo Goldman from the novelIl buio e il miele( Italian :Darkness and Honey) by Giovanni Arpino and from the 1974 screenplay by Ruggero Maccari and Dino Risi . Goldman originally titled his adaptation "Stench of a Woman", which was met by resistance from the studio. It was directed by Martin Brest .
Al Pacino won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance; the film was nominated for Best Director (lost to Clint Eastwood forUnforgiven), Best Picture (lost toUnforgiven) and Best Adapted Screenplay (lost toHowards End).
The film won three major awards at the Golden Globe Awards : Best Adapted Screenplay , Best Actor and Best Motion Picture – Drama .
Portions of the movie were filmed on location at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey , the Emma Willard School , an all-girls school in Troy, New York , and at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York City .
Charlie Simms ( Chris O'Donnell ) is a student at an exclusive New England prep school . Unlike most of his peers, Charlie was not born to a wealthy family. To pay for a flight home for Christmas, Charlie accepts a temporary job over Thanksgiving weekend looking after a retired Army Ranger Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade ( Al Pacino ), who Charlie discovers to be a cantankerous blind alcoholic .
Charlie and George Willis, Jr. ( Philip Seymour Hoffman ), another student at the preparatory school, bear witness to several students setting up a prank for the school's headmaster Trask ( James Rebhorn ). Following the prank, Trask presses Charlie and George to divulge the names of the perpetrators. When Charlie refuses to talk, Trask offers 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 an upscale restaurant, Slade glibly states the goals of the trip, which involve enjoying luxurious accommodations in New York before "blowing his brains out" . Charlie is taken aback and does not know if Slade is serious.
They pay an uninvited surprise visit to Slade's brother's home for Thanksgiving dinner. Slade is an unpleasant surprise for the family, as he deliberately provokes everyone and the night ends in acrimony.
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 Willis will probably be pressured into not maintaining silence. Later at a restaurant, Charlie and Slade observe Donna ( Gabrielle Anwar ), a beautiful young woman waiting for her date. Although blind, Slade leads Donna in a spectacular tango (" Por una Cabeza ") on the dance floor. That night, he hires an escort .
Deeply despondent the next morning, Slade responds to Charlie's suggestion that they test drive a Ferrari . Charlie lets Slade drive the car and Slade begins speeding, attracting the attraction of a policeman ( Ron Eldard ), who Slade manages to appease without giving away his blindness.
When they return to the hotel, Slade sends Charlie out on list of errands. Charlie initially leaves the room but quickly becomes suspicious. Charlie returns to find Slade preparing to commit suicide. Charlie intervenes and attempts to grab Slade's gun. Slade, however, easily overpowers him. After a tense argument, Slade backs down.
The two return to New England. At school, Charlie and Willis are subjected to a formal inquiry in front of the 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, Willis has enlisted the help of his wealthy father, and divulges the names of the perpetrators, qualifying that his vision wasn't clear. When pressed for more details, Willis passes the burden to Charlie. Although struggling with his decision, Charlie gives no information, so Trask recommends Charlie's expulsion. At this, Slade cannot contain himself and launches into a passionate speech defending Charlie and questioning the integrity of a system that rewards informing on colleagues. The disciplinary committee decides to place on probation the students named by Willis, and to give Willis neither recognition nor commendation for his testimony. They excuse Charlie from any punishment, to loud applause from the student body.
As Charlie escorts Slade to his limo, a female political science teacher who was part of the disciplinary committee approaches Slade, commending him for his speech. Seeing a spark between them, Charlie tells the teacher that Slade served on President Lyndon Johnson 's staff. A romantic prospect is hinted between Slade and the teacher as they part ways.
Charlie takes Slade home, where they part ways. The colonel walks towards his house and greets his niece's young children happily.