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Scent of Mystery

Scent of Mystery(1960)

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NOTES

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The film's working title was The Chase Is On. The print viewed was incomplete. Cast and technical credits were taken from reviews. There was no copyright statement visible on the film, and it was not registered for copyright. Several reviews listed the characters in the cast descriptively ("The Scrutable Englishman"). Character names listed in the credits were taken from the print viewed. Reviews commented on the fact that a large portion of the film was similar to a travelogue, presenting well-known Spanish tourist sites and festivals. Several reviews commented on footage of Pamplona's famed running of the bulls and, later, a bullfight. Neither of those sequences were included in the print viewed. Hollywood Reporter listed a title song written by Mario Nascimbene and Jordan Ramin, sung by Eddie Fisher.
       Scent of Mystery was the first and only film released with the Smell-O-Vision process, developed by Swiss scientist Hans Laube at the request of producer Mike Todd, Jr. The system piped in odors via plastic tubing to individual seats, scents being triggered automatically by signals on the film's soundtrack. Scent of Mystery was written specifically to implement Smell-O-Vision, and many plot points in the narrative are tied to various scents, including the solution of the mystery, when "Oliver Larker" smells American pipe tobacco. Other scents used in the film that are mentioned in reviews are perfume, flowers, coffee, brandy, port wine and peppermint. In a modern interview with Todd, the producer stated that, not until after the premiere of Smell-O-Vision in Scent of Mystery did it occur to him and an associate to develop a reverse pump to clear the air between scents, so that each odor could be more distinctive. Todd indicated this system was added to the film after its third opening and was likely too late to make Smell-O-Vision a success. Todd admitted the process was intended as nothing more than a novelty gimmick.
       Scent of Mystery was released within weeks of the distribution of the Americanupdated Italian documentary production Behind the Great Wall, which featured a process similar to Smell-O-Vision, called AromaRama. Charles Weiss developed that process and, working with Sidney Kaufman, a faculty member at New York's New School for Social Research, and Thomas Orchard adapted it to create discernable odors to be coordinated with various sequences of the film. The Smell-O-Vision process differed from AromaRama in that it, unlike AromaRama, was delivered directly to individual theater seats rather than to the entire auditorium, hence was easier to control but more expensive to produce.
       A June 23, 1961 Daily Variety news item revealed that Todd and business partner Elizabeth Taylor (Todd's stepmother, who made a brief, uncredited cameo in the film as the real "Sally Kennedy") filed suit against Cinemiracle Pictures Corp., demanding $2,500,000 damage. The complaint alleged that a contract had been signed with Cinemiracle in July 1960 for distribution of Scent of Mystery which was to be re-titled Holiday in Spain, but that Cinemiracle had halted distribution plans. The outcome of the suit has not been determined.
       Modern sources indicate that the film was severely cut from its original running time of 125 or 135 minutes, which included an intermission, and re-released in the late 1960s under the title Holiday in Spain. The re-released version included an added voice-over narration by star Denholm Elliot, which was heard on the print viewed. Modern sources add Alex Thomson and Paul Wilson to the camera crew.