Scent of a Woman

Col. Frank Slade has a very special plan for the weekend!

156 min     7.741     1992     USA


Charlie Simms is a student at a private preparatory school who comes from a poor family. To earn the money for his flight home to Gresham, Oregon for Christmas, Charlie takes a job over Thanksgiving looking after retired U.S. Army officer Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade, a cantankerous middle-aged man who lives with his niece and her family.


Peter McGinn wrote:
Another one of those movies that I watched after it first was released but have only recently watched again. I must say I probably thought more of it some 30 years ago. Nothing against the actors. I think they all did a credible job. I just think two and a half hours was too long to spend with the Colonel (oops, sorry, Lieutenant Colonel). Even Slade himself admits that he has always been a screw-up, and it seems since the incident that led to his blindness he has gotten much worse, and suicidal to boot. Fair enough, at times he did seem to be a waste of skin, so suicide was a viable option. Lt. Colonel Frank Slade can be casually insulting or verbally abusive to any person that enters his orbit: friend or foe, family or stranger, it doesn’t matter. And he can be physically abusive for provocations that we mere mortals learn to swallow in silence or with some modicum of class. Yes, that is his style, but wait. That applies to men only, it seems. With women, whom he magically knows are attractive by their smell despite his blindness, he is courtly, charming, respectful with only occasional lapses of lewdness. So if he can be a normal human with attractive women, what is his problem with everyone else? Well, of course it doesn’t matter, because he is larger than life and the centerpiece of the movie. All of his moods and actions lead up to a speech he delivers at the end of the film, words that prove he is the hero of the movie. I would like to think that his time spent with Charlie was transformative for him and led to real character growth, but really, I don’t think that anything short of miraculously regaining his sight would have achieved that happy result.