miss_s_b: (Fanigrling: Rumpole)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
I suspect that the title of this blog post is mildly inaccurate, as it should really be "Experience Review". This is the first time in 55 years that this film has been shown in a cinema as it was meant to be seen, in glorious Smell-o-vision. Spoilers for how they did the smells follow:

As Penny and I entered the cinema we were told "you'll find a bottle of scent and a fan on your seat. Don't do anything with them till the film starts. We discovered that these little spray bottle had numbers on, and we each had different numbers. There were brief talks from a couple of the people behind the restoration of the film, and then we were given our instructions. At various points in the film the glamorous lady (right) and gentleman (left) at the sides of the screen would hold up numbers. If they held up the number on the bottle of scent that you had, you were to spray it up in the air then use your fan to distribute the aroma. There were also, at strategic moments, a couple of actors in costume who wandered through the cinema trailing scents which audience members did not have.

The system worked rather well for me, especially as I was sitting in an aisle seat, so I got the scent from the actors strongly and straight away; the further from the aisle you were the less effective this part of the mechanism was. The scents were pretty well distributed throughout the cinema so when the numbers got held up there was an even distribution. I would say they need to work on the timing a little bit - the scents need to be sprayed 5-10 seconds before the appropriate moment on screen, not just after it happens. This is particularly true of scents 5 and 6 (be gentle with 5!). I would also say that 4 should be red wine, rather than grapes, as the sweet scent of grapes was slightly confusing especially given the mechanics of the scene.

I kept my fan and my little bottle of scent, so if anyone wants to have a tiny part of the experience, let me know if/when you next visit me. You will then discover the delightful aroma of Peter Lorre's breath mints ;)

As for the plot of the actual film, well it was a British comedy crime caper with lots of celebrity cameos. Denholm Eliot, Leo McKern and Peter Lorre were all excellent, although seeing Leo playing a rowdy American was a little unsettling. Peter Lorre was just adorable as the Spanish taxi driver - which is my default reaction to him - and had some lovely little comedy moments that reminded me of his turn in Comedy of Terrors as foil to Vincent Price. And Denholm Eliot was Denholm Eliot.

Lots of bits of it were clearly just there to showcase either Cinerama or Smell-o-vision or both - like the guy with the yoyo in House of Wax is only there for the 3D effects and serves no plotular purpose - but if you're seeing it in a Cinerama cinema with the smells then that's not annoying like it would be if you were watching it on TV, but endearing. There were some fabulous hats, a couple of really good beards, and the story was farcical but funny. It's the sort of film I would normally give 5/10 to and say "if it turns up on channel 4 in the afternoon movie slot, give it a whirl, you might enjoy it". You can certainly have a good game of Spot the Golden Age Of British Cinema Celebrity Cameo. However, in the full Cinerama plus Smell-o-vision experience, this gets upgraded to a Must See. The print is not perfect (we were told some of the reasons why in the talk at the start of the film) and the scent distribution system is not perfect either, but I would say these both add to the fun and charm of the experience.

8/10

See this film if:


- you can, simple as that. It's a unique experience, and the story of the film is only a part of that, so even if you detest comedy crime capers I'd say it's worth seeing. You'll need to live in or near a city with a cinerama screen, of which there are now only 4 in the world, and hope they put this show on. I promise you it's worth it.

Don't see this film if:

- strong odours bother you, or you have allergies that might be set off by them.
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Hello! I'm Jennie (known to many as SB, due to my handle, or The Yorksher Gob because of my old blog's name). This blog is my public face; click here for a list of all the other places you can find me on t'interwebs.



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