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Film / Profumo di donna

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Profumo di donna (Scent of a Woman) is a 1974 film from Italy directed by Dino Risi.

Giovanni is a soldier in the army who looks to be in his late teens (the actor was 17). Giovanni, who is off on leave, is given a temp job as caretaker to a retired army campaign, Fausto Consolo. Fausto (Vittorio Gassman) is retired because an accident with a bomb during a training exercise left him blind and without his left hand and forearm.

Giovanni is spending a week as caretaker to Fausto as they journey from Turin to Milan, where Fausto is going to visit Vincenzo, an army lieutenant who was also blinded in the same bomb accident. Fausto turns out to not be Inspirationally Disadvantaged at all. He is in fact loud, and obnoxious, and extremely horny. Fausto enlists Giovanni into finding him sexy hookers, while insisting that he can recognize a beautiful woman by her smell, hence the title. The two have a series of madcap adventures on the way from Turin to Milan, as Giovanni learns a lot more about his irascible companion.

In 1992 Profumo di donna received a Foreign Remake as Scent of a Woman, with Al Pacino playing the blind army officer. Alessandro Momo, who played Giovanni, died in a motorcycle accident just a few weeks after this film was completed, a week before his 18th birthday.


  • Byronic Hero: Fausto is angry and obnoxious and constantly insults poor Giovanni. He patronizes hookers, he makes a spectacle of himself in strip clubs, and he embarrasses poor Sara who obviously is in love with him. Events prove that he is ridden with shame and self-loathing, having once been a handsome and dynamic officer, now left a helpless blind man. In one scene Giovanni wakes up early in the morning and sees Fausto at a balcony, weeping bitterly.
  • Disability Superpower: Fausto claims that he can smell a woman and it seems that he can; he senses Sara when she is hiding quietly in a corner. When they are going to find the Streetwalker that Giovanni picked out the day before, Giovanni leads him to what he says is the right spot, but Fausto says no, he smelled a bakery. Giovanni soon finds the bakery. Giovanni can't find that hooker but he finds a different one, only for Fausto to tell by his sense of smell that it wasn't the same woman. In another scene, even though Giovanni very carefully put back everything in Fausto's suitcase exactly where it was, Fausto somehow still knows he looked through it.
  • Dream Sequence: Giovanni goes peeking through Fausto's suitcase and finds a gun. That night he has a nightmare in which Fausto shoots him with that gun.
  • Fanservice Extra: One scene has Fausto dragging Giovanni to a restaurant with topless waitresses. Fausto complains that they didn't make such places legal in Italy until after he was blinded.
  • Flipping the Bird: Vincenzo also has a soldier on leave looking after him. Vincenzo's soldier can't stand him and always flips him off before taking his leave. Every time he does, he smacks the crook of his elbow with his other hand, making Vincenzo think that his caretaker is clicking his heels in salute.
  • Formally-Named Pet: Apparently Fausto's only companion in his lonely retirement is a cat that he calls "the Baron".
  • Girlish Pigtails: Sara in the present story is a gorgeous young woman. She is shown with her hair in girlish pigtails in a flashback, in a scene where she's watching handsome Fausto on a horse, before Fausto had his accident.
  • Handy Helper: Giovanni helps Fausto cross the street, and he helps Fausto find prostitutes (they have to have black hair and a big behind). He also reads personal items from the newspaper for Fausto's amusement.
  • Happily Failed Suicide: Two shots ring out. Giovanni and Sara race back to the room to find Vincenzo wounded and Fausto standing by in a daze. It's not made quite clear what happened, but Fausto's comments about being a "coward" indicate that at the very last second he couldn't go through with the Suicide Pact. In any event, the suicides are happily averted, as Vincenzo is reunited with his loved ones, and Fausto finally lets down his guard and accepts Sara's love.
  • Inner Monologue: Giovanni's inner monologue is often heard when he's pissed off by Fausto's rudeness or his obnoxious antics. When Fausto the Jerkass slaps a man who did nothing more than sit down in their cabin on the train, Giovanni's inner monologue says "Seven days with this loon."
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: Fausto and Sara walk away together, down the hill, her guiding him by the arm, after he has finally let his defenses down and accepted her love.
  • Streetwalker: There are a lot of them. Giovanni, told to find a hooker with black hair and a big butt, describes one to Fausto only for Fausto to chuckle and tell him that the prostitute—whom Giovanni describes as having a big nose and big feet—is actually a man.
  • Suicide Pact: The real reason that Fausto is going to visit Vincenzo. The two old army comrades, both blinded by the same accident, have agreed to kill themselves together.
  • Swapped Roles: Of sorts. It is Vincenzo who says he's scared to proceed with the Suicide Pact; it is Fausto who actually doesn't go through it due to the fear.
  • Take That!: Early in the film Giovanni is briefly distracted from looking after Fausto because he was watching a Spaghetti Western. Fausto, when he is told of this, dismisses Spaghetti Westerns as "American crap".
  • Title Drop: All the pretty young ladies in Vincenzo's household are changing to go swimming. Fausto, because he is blind and can't see them, busts his way into their room. The other three girls run off giggling, but Sara, who loves Fausto, hides in a corner. Fausto senses her presence, turns, and says "I smell a scent of a woman."
  • Wife Husbandry: Sara says that she has loved Fausto since she was seven years old—her father, now deceased, was an army officer who served with Fausto. She is shown in Girlish Pigtails watching Fausto on horseback at some sort of military parade, and apparently she's still a teenager when she met Fausto again and embraced him, only to find out about his injury.