Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Perfume at the Movies Strikes Back

The Siren progresses to the modern era as she wraps up her survey of scent at the cinema.

Paper Moon, 1973

A simple, lovely moment from this Depression-set movie illustrates perfectly what perfume can do for us. The mother of Tatum O'Neal's character, Addie, has died. That leaves Addie to hook up with a Bible-selling con man, Moses Pray, played by Tatum's real-life father Ryan O'Neal. (It's strongly implied in the movie, but never stated outright, that Ryan's character is Addie's father). Addie's one link to her past is a cigar box that she's filled with objects that are precious to her. Alone in her room one day, she takes them out one by one and inspects them. She comes to a bottle of scent, opens it, and inhales deeply. Without a single word of dialogue, you know it belonged to her mother. Addie dabs on a little bit, likes it, puts on some more. A lot more.

Cut to the next scene--Addie in the car with Pray. Pray develops a choked expression, as of a man suffocating. He looks over at Addie, who smiles back, inexpressibly pleased with herself. Silently, he lowers the windshield of the car.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, 1989

A bad movie, but a classic perfume plays an important role. Richard Pryor plays a blind man (geddit? See No Evil? no, audiences at the time didn't find it all that funny, either). Pryor still manages to recognize femme fatale Joan Severance, however, because she's wearing (drum roll) Shalimar. "Damn, that woman smells good," he mutters at one point. Wonder if he'd feel the same way about Guerlain's proposed reformulation? (The Siren doesn't forgive easily.)

The Talented Mr. Ripley, 2002

Matt Damon's sociopathic character, Tom Ripley, presents Gwyneth Paltrow with a bottle of perfume from Santa Maria Novella.

Perfume Goof: Far From Heaven, 2002

A meticulous period piece with an anachronism many fragrance mavens noticed. In the scene where they show Julianne Moore's dresser, an Annick Goutal bottle is clearly visible. Lovely
though the bottle is, Annick Goutal was not making perfume in the 1950s.

More Bonus Trivia: Paris When It Sizzles, 1964

Hubert de Givenchy received a screen credit for Audrey Hepburn's perfume--presumably L'Interdit, though I haven't watched it again to check. And I probably won't, since this is one of Audrey's few turkeys.

Great Perfume Quotes

Double Indemnity, 1944
Fred MacMurray: You'll be here too?
Barbara Stanwyck: I guess so, I usually am.
MacMurray: Same chair, same perfume, same anklet?
Stanwyck: I wonder if I know what you mean.
MacMurray: I wonder if you wonder.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, 1947
Anne Rutherford (as fiancée Gertrude): Walter, what's that awful smell?
Danny Kaye (as Walter Mitty): It's that cologne you gave me for Christmas.
Rutherford: It's lovely, isn't it?

A Streetcar Named Desire, 1951
Marlon Brando (as Stanley Kowalski): Do you know that I've been on to you from the start, and not once did you pull the wool over this boy's eyes? You come in here and you sprinkle the place with powder and you spray perfume and you stick a paper lantern over the light bulb--and, lo and behold, the place has turned to Egypt and you are the Queen of the Nile, sitting on your throne, swilling down my liquor. And do you know what I say? Ha ha! Do you hear me? Ha ha ha!

Night of the Hunter, 1955
Robert Mitchum (as the psychopathic Rev. Powell): There are things you do hate, Lord. Perfume-smellin' things, lacy things, things with curly hair.

Stardust Memories, 1980
Charlotte Rampling: Mmm. You smell nice.
Woody Allen: Yeah?
Rampling: That aftershave. It just made my whole childhood come back with a sudden Proustian rush.
Allen: Yeah? That's 'cause I'm wearing Proustian Rush by Chanel. It's reduced. I got a vat of it.

Love in the Afternoon, 1957
Gary Cooper: What does he export and what does he import?
Audrey Hepburn: Oh, he, uh, he exports perfume and imports bananas. There's a fortune in it. Do you realize that for one bottle of perfume you get twelve bananas?
Cooper: Twelve bananas for one bottle of ... doesn't sound like such a hot deal to me.
Hepburn: It's a tiny bottle of perfume and very large bananas.

Diamonds Are Forever, 1971
James Bond: The wine is quite excellent. Although for such a grand meal I would have expected a claret.
Mr. Wint: But of course. Unfortunately our cellar is poorly stocked with clarets.
James Bond: Mouton Rothschild IS a claret. And, I've smelled that aftershave before, and both times I've smelled a rat.

When Harry Met Sally, 1989
Billy Crystal (as Harry Burns): I love that you get cold when it's 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.

Wonder Boys, 2000
Frances McDormand (smelling perfume on Michael Douglas): Is that Cristalle?
Michael Douglas: Mm.
McDormand: My God, I wear the same scent as a transvestite.

The Siren Knows These Movies Mention Perfume, but She Didn't Like Them

Scent of a Woman, Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal.

The Siren Hasn't Seen These Movies, but They Involve Perfume, Too

The Devil Bat, Tunnel Vision, Le Divorce, Our Man in Havana, The Naked Jungle. If I see them and they are worth the time, I will write them up as well. I definitely want to see The Devil Bat and The Naked Jungle. Also, IMDB reports that Marjorie Morningstar has a credit for the perfume worn by the cast. I need to see the movie again to see what that could be.


Diane said...

I love these! Especially love the Hepburn/Cooper exchange - the way it translated on-screen was adorable, love that film. And the Stanwyck/MacMurray exchange has my favorite line in the whole movie, another classic must-see!

mireille said...

"Proustian Rush by Chanel. I got a vat of it." LOLOLOLOL

Anonymous said...

These are wonderful! I have never seen Double Indemnity, but now I know that I should. There is another great perfume moment I remembered--Belle de Jour, when Severine breaks one of her enourmous Guerlain bottles. Then you know that it is a foreboding of something dark.

Patti said...

I love these!
Okay, let's try Silence Of The Lambs:
"You're wearing Evian Skin Cream. And sometimes you wear L'Air Du Temps, but not today."


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Unknown said...

This was a very interesting read. I hadn't ever really thought about perfume and cologne in film, but it really is all around us. We even tie specific perfumes with certain movie stars.