The venomous and amoral wife of a wealthy architect tries, any way she can, to break up the blossoming romance between her husband and his new mistress; a good-natured young widow who holds a dark past.
Brian G. Hutton
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The "Smell-O-Vision" gimmick did not work as intended. Moviegoers in the balcony said the aromas reached them too late to coincide with the onscreen action. Some said the scents were much too faint. Negative word-of-mouth and reviews doomed the movie and the gimmick. See more »
There is a credit for the shoe polish brightening the cast's shoes. See more »
The Best Of The "Smellies" (for what that's worth)
Sent Of Mystery is not a bad film, though basically the answer to a trivia question it's still fun.
Over the years there had been various attempts at filling a movie theater with smells linked to the film being shown. Around 1915, a silent exhibitor distributed a tinted newsreel of the Rose Parade that came with Flit guns of rose sent so that the theater ushers could walk the isles pumping perfume while the film was being shown. In 1940, the Clark Gable & Spencer Tracy vehicle `Boom Town' subjected certain unfortunate audiences to the smell of crude oil pumped into the theater's ventilation system. This went over so poorly, that nobody tried anything like for years.
The `Smell-o-vision' used in Sent Of Mystery was an elaborate system that had vials of several scents within a rotating drum beside each theater seat. These drums were rotated on silent cues actually recorded onto the film's magnetic soundtrack. Each sent was puffed at the patron via compressed air, and in the system's real innovation, each sent was then nullified by another puff of fresh air when the scene was over. It was an elaborate gimmick that would have made Mike Todd Sr. or William Castle proud. In the film, it was used to great affect to identify the killer with a particular kind of pipe tobacco and at the climax the audience is were alerted to his presence before he is seen on screen! Unfortunately this crucial scene is meaningless without the scent and one is left to wonder how the hero is able to identify him, but at least the film does have a fun cameo by Liz Taylor at the end.
Scent Of Mystery later went into wider release under the more pedestrian title of `Holiday In Spain', and under that name it was eventually sold to TV. Around 1983 the film surfaced again when it aired in several US cities and on MTV as part of a cross-promotion with 7-11 convenience stores, which was when I saw it. The 7-11 stores sold a package containing coupons and a foldout card that came with a sheet of scratch-n-sniff decals. As broadcast, the film's `scent points' were marked with a flashing number at the bottom of the screen, which was the viewer's cue to peel & paste the corresponding decal onto their card, which was decorated with images from the film that could be followed like a board game. This included the peach blossoms, the cask of wine, the cooking onions, and the distinctive tobacco. Unfortunately, this broadcast gimmick blew the films surprise by making it more like the `Odorama' used in John Waters' `Polyester.'
Other than the aforementioned John Waters film, the only other use of scented cinema that I'm aware of in recent years is in an attraction at Disney's California Adventure theme park. Those experiencing the Omni-max film `Sorin' Over California' experience a pine scent as they `fly' over the Sierra forests and an orange scent as they `glide' over orchards of the Central Valley. It seems the `Smellies' are just one of those ideas that will never catch on.
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