Scent of Mystery (1960) Poster

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Hmmm is that fresh coffee?
elvis-3021 November 2007
I was at the premiere in Hollywood (1960) - A first-date thing ......

Didn't know what to expect .. but the pipe tobacco and peach smells (among SEVERAL more) were astounding! Each time you smelled the perfume... you KNEW something bad was going to happen! .....

I don't know how they did it, maybe a hose or fan mounted on the seat in front of you, but when the scene changed, the smell did too !! NEET!

If I remember correctly, the program LISTED all the smells you would encounter during the film as well.

Needless to say, the food smells probably helped the concession stand because the lines were a mile long !!

My date was NOT impressed... (should have made her buy popcorn!)

Too bad, This film followed the 3-D craze and is now gone.
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Why are all these people commenting on a movie they haven't seen?
whitesheik21 December 2004
I love the IMDb. Where else can you get people commenting on a film they clearly haven't seen in the way it was first exhibited. Only one commenter claims to have seen it. The others saw a seventy-minute butchered version taped with a video camera aimed at a seventy-millimeter movie screen which is the ONLY time it ever aired on TV (in other words, it was never "sold" to TV). Scent of Mystery was a true oddity, but one I adored. The camera-work and sound recording were unbelievably brilliant, and the film was a lark. The smells were dispensed to each seat via a tube and by the time of the LA run they'd figured out how to "clean" the air between smells and it worked very well. As to Holiday in Spain, here we have people making comments when they clearly know not of what they speak. When Scent flopped big-time, it was sold to the Cinerama corporation. The film was converted into three-panel Cinerama, cut by twenty-five minutes (making its plot completely incoherent - of course, this is the version people are commenting on - well, not exactly - their commenting on the shortened version which was further shortened for its one-time TV showing), narration by Elliot was added (terrible), and the intermission point, which in the original was sublime, was moved up by twenty minutes and made no sense at all. Given that all but one of the commentators here have only seen the dreck that they showed on TV (completely faded print and missing sixty percent of its image), well, I find it a bit galling. The Todd AO image was and is stunning, the director of the film was the great cameraman, Jack Cardiff. And the sound - amazing eight track Todd-Belock sound system which, to my mind, has never been bettered. Not by Dolby, not by DTS, not by anything. And, just in case you think my memory may be faulty, I have just this day watched a seventy-millimeter print of the film, the shortened (but not as short as TV) Holiday in Spain - and that sound blew me away.

So, at this time, Scent Of Mystery is a lost film. It's never even been printed down to 35mm. It is uncertain whether any 70mm elements survive for the uncut Scent - there are 70mm elements (and even YCMs) for Holiday in Spain. If the uncut neg can be found, I am here to tell you there are plans afoot for a DVD.
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The Best Of The "Smellies" (for what that's worth)
brucebox13 February 2001
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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this was the only film ever shot in smell-o-vision
againsam29 September 1998
There was a race to get smells into films at this time. It was won by the Walter Reade organisation in late 1959 with a documentary called "Behind The Great Wall", which added smells after the film was completed, in a process called aromarama. "scent of Mystery" was produced by Mike Todd Jr. in 70mm, with the smells to be used as clues to the mystery. It was a lighthearted romp, beautifully shot in Spain, with Elizabeth Taylor as a guest star. It has never been revived, or put out on video.
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Really fun gimmick
LarryCinerama1 June 2000
I saw this movie with the smells. Since the smells in many cases served as clues, it would be confusing without them. The machine that generated the smells was located in the lobby for examination by theater goers. The smells were introduced to the theater using a compressed air system and after a few examples, the audience recognized the noise (which was minimal) and commented to each other "Here comes another one" All in all not really a very good movie but a fun experience. I don't really see how this could ever have been anything more than an experiment.
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The Taxi
poego24 August 2018
I love the 1932 Renault Mona Quattro used in the film.
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obscured 70mm classic by Mike Todd J.r.
mmcgee2826 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I had seen the restored previews on you tube.I had presumed one day that flicker alley was going to release it ,once they ran out of three panel classics.I Was wrong It was released on Nov. last year from Redwind productions ,distributed exclusively by screen archive dot com. I found this out last month.I also found out that flicker alley is not going to stop selling Cinerama films ,but, this had nothing to do with them.It was Cinerama's decision ,probably. This is the 109 minute version,When It was sold to Cinema miracle and when that went out of business sold to Cinerama ,it enlarged and slice and diced.The first story plot film to be projected in Cinerama.This was not combo DVD and Blu-Ray.Which was not fair for those with d.v.d players.It had a CD disc of the original L.p. sound track. It came with a pamphlet that explained the making of the film and all the actors.It also showed that Diana Dors was not a bimbo ,when you learned she did stage work also and a t.v. show in England The print was excellent.David Strohmaier did a great job restring with what they found,the 123 minute version is lost except for some fragments of the other film.It was originally in Smell-O-Vision ,but, every time a cue scent for a smell would com up ,I would get dizzy cause my nose was feeling compelled to smell a sensation that was not their .In spite of the lack of odors, the story was still good.Denholm Elliot plays the writer on vacation in Spain.He ends up getting involved with Beverly Bentley,when he is in a car wreck cause by a truck that was trying to knock her down. Liam Redmond tells Elliot the situation.With the aid of Peter Lorre as the taxi driver ,they track her down to save her from those who are going to kill her.The location in Spain were wonderful and the 70mm cinematography was great.This was not Todd a.o. process, but a different 70mm process.Vincent Korda did the production design .He built a fake hotel room,on the roof of a real hotel,for the effect of the 70mm cinema photography .There's an intermission and a surprised ending.The stereo sound was great to .It was originally eight tracks stereo sound.It would be reduce for the Cinerama convert 7 tracks .There's an interview with Beverly Bentley,years later, as well as Mike Todd j.r daughter,who was born the same year I was .Thank goodness this was in smile box.02/6/15
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Very silly
kosmasp29 December 2010
This is very silly and should not under any circumstances be taken seriously. Any attempt to not follow that advice will lead into the inevitable result of you not liking the movie at all. Actually of you dreading the movie. And it's comedy might be considered poor taste, it's acting poor too.

But it is silly and simple for a reason and it stays true to that formula til the end (even if it has hits and misses throughout). The main character with his conviction of knowing more than he actually does helps the movie a lot. Also Mr. Lorre in a role that we are not used seeing him, is great too. All in all, a crime comedy, that might not be something to really recommend ... But still funny to watch
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Silly and stupid but with one or two good points.
cheathamg17 February 2017
Mostly when people discuss this film they get sidetracked by the Smell-O-Vision aspect. It was made at a time when there was a lot of experimentation with the technology of film making. In the decade previously they had tried 3-D and Cinerama, so adding aromas to film didn't seem that far out of bounds. The technology really wasn't ready as yet and the film, "Scent of Mystery", wasn't good enough to stand on its own. The story was silly and the dialog was stupid. The original film no longer exists as such. Another film called "Holiday in Spain" was cobbled together from pieces of various prints. Some say, therefore, you can't judge the original by the copy. However, the copy does have a strongly coherent narrative flow. It's the original that was stupid. The actors were competent professionals and there is the occasional clever line, but there is a certain amount of embarrassment in watching talent going to waste. There is an inside showbiz secret society feel to it. It's Elizabeth Taylor and her then husband Eddie Fisher working with Mike Todd, Jr. trying to salvage the botched job his father had done. By the way, what I said earlier about the addition of aromas to dramatic entertainment, watch what happens when V. R. adds story lines and acting. They are already adding tactility to V. R. Can odor be far behind?
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More please...that is more info about the 8 track sound system
dfddwm-106-33681013 September 2014
I have been tempted by the Belock/Everest Records/Todd AO link up in terms of LPs, Around the World in Eighty Days, and highlights from Mike Todd's Broadway shows and the Night in Venice, where I think one part of it was filmed in Todd AO. You can hear the front 5 channel sound compressed into remarkable standard 2 channel stereo on the 80 Days LP.

I know the 6 channel Todd AO sound was Westrex and entirely independent of Belock recording but the later development of 8 channels held the possibility of rear stereo effects, the 6 channel format having mono rear sound, but in this case of smello vision one of these channels was also used to steer the scent effects.

I have spotted a Scent of Mystery soundtrack LP from Everest Records and wonder whether it is worth getting in terms of quality of the music on this film.

This may have been a cinematic dead end. But the real bad thing that happened was the tragedy of Mike Todd's premature death in that plane accident.

This is a most interesting discussion and I thank the others for their helpful comments, especially the guy who speaks from first hand experience and who commented on the great sound...that's why I am curious about whether it supplied rear stereo and what the prospects of the LP. I imagine this all predates any form of dolby encoding so the notion of being able to extract a pro logic surround sound from a two track stereo source did not exist.
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Of historical interest only!
Anne_Sharp24 July 2001
Some movies created to be used with in-theater tricks such as 3-D or Sensurround or whatever are entertaining to watch even without the gimmick. This isn't. The young Denholm Elliott makes a most unengaging leading man/narrator, and though Peter Lorre as his dirty old man sidekick perks things up a bit it's basically a low octane assemblage of corny gags and sub-Hitchcockian intrigue. Still, it's the film that inspired John Waters' classic Odorama classic "Polyester," which is quite a claim to fame in itself.
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Stink Plus Celluloid
dariuslanghoff20 August 2017
THE SCENT OF MYSTERY was brought in 1960 by Mike Todd. It was a 70 mm Technicolor thriller made in the new process of "Smell-O-Vision". The scents used - which ranged from ozone, pipe tobacco, garlic and oil, to paint, pine, wood shavings and boot polish - were piped to each individual cinema seat on cue from the "smell-track" of the film.

However, the first film officially made as "smelly" was a wide-screen travelogue about India called BEHIND THE GREAT WALL (1929). It premiered at the DeMille Theater in New York and was accompanied by 72 smells that included incense, smoke, burning pitch, oranges, spices and a barnyard of geese. The scents were circulated thought the ventilating system.
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