American Hustle – Perfume in Movies

We went to see American Hustle recently, and I almost died laughing. It is a fun romp of a movie, where Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence just pull you into the crazy quicksand and show you how to breathe.

[pullquote]“Maybe all you’ve got in life are fucked-up, poisonous choices.” –  Rosalyn “American Hustle”[/pullquote]

Jennifer Lawrence is genius in it, and perfume lovers will wriggle in delight with her obsessive stream of blabber about her nail polish top coat and how it smells like perfume and garbage at the same time.  Here’s the Youtube clip.

It’s not the only perfume/scent reference she makes, she keeps going on about that top coat polish smell and how she can’t resist it, and neither can her husband. Most of what she says could have been said by any of us and probably has been!  

It got me thinking – what other great perfume references have there been in the movies.  Scarlett gargling with cologne to disguise her drinking in “Gone With the Wind.”  Judy Garland in “Meet Me in St. Louis” trailing a lovely violet perfume to catch a boy.  Hannibal Lector detecting a perfume Clarice wears, L’Air du Temps, but she doesn’t have it on that day.  I’ve even caught a Guerlain box in Downton Abby that was a gift at Christmas.  There are a lot of references to perfume or perfume smells.  Angela at Now Smell This puts a bunch of them together, as does Victoria at Bois de Jasmin.

Not many – if any –  have a character talking about smell and the carnality and beauty some smells have.  I loved the references in American Hustle because it really summed up a lot of the movie – rottenness and beauty all mashed in together, repelling and attracting, overlaid on such a ridiculous object – nail polish top coat.  All of that is pretty much our human existence – rotten, beautiful, ridiculous.

Are there any other movies that talk about smells/perfume in particular?  I’m trying to think of one and drawing a blank.  Favorite perfume moment in any movie?

Winners of the sample sets for Masque perfumes and Profumum Sorriso are – Bastet and Joelyn.  Congrats!  Just drop me a line by clicking on Drop Us  Line at the top of the blog, get me your address and remimd me what you’ve won, and I’ll give you a quick got it e-mail and send them right out.

Oh, thanks for all the hints about the hat.  I finally got one together!  I didn’t knit it in the round, and that really helped me get the size/scale right. It’s an epic hat.  For all of my really horrible-looking hats, this one made up for it. I knitted up another one with the same pattern that is a gorgeous iris blue, and it has a completely different feel with a little less bulky yarn.  Love them both, but am super-excited about being able to finally knit a hat! It’s weird how such a small thing and make you so darn happy.  Okay, I’m sure y’all would be happy if I’d get that sandalwood post done, and I don’t know why it is taking me so long and why I’m so writer blocked on it, but I am determined to get it done this week, promise!


  • Kathleen says:

    Don’t forget Joel Cairo in The Maltese Falcon, his calling cards and handkerchiefs scented with gardenia!

  • Bobbi says:

    In The Four Seasons the divorced husband gives his new young girlfriend a huge bottle of Shalimar while the others look on. And in E.T. the two brothers are looking for something in their dad’s stuff (who is divorced from their mom and out of the picture) and come across a shirt that has his scent lingering on it. The older one, sniffs and says “Old Spice.” “Sea Breeze,” says Elliott.

  • Lynley says:

    It may have been mentioned in the other blogs, but in Upstairs Downstairs, when Lady Agnes comes home from hospital, her hot water bottle is sprayed with Mitsouko, because she’d ‘gone off Shalimar’

  • HemlockSillage says:

    Nothing is ever said, but in Bull Durham, Annie is getting dressed, and she puts on Shalimar extrait gliding the glass stopper. . . A movie ostensibly about love and baseball that introduced me to the poems of Thomas Gray. Who’d a thunk it? 😀

    Patty, your hat is a hit! I love it. Be well.

  • Melissa says:

    This isn’t a movie reference but I’ve been reading old detective stories by Ellery Queen and he mentions how women smell quite often. In one story a character asks to borrow her sister’s bottle of Odalisque and in another a character comments on her 8 oz. bottle of Indiscret. In the one I’m reading now he describes a woman’s scent as “… an aroma, or rather an effluvium, emanating from her person that was like the ghost of last year’s honeysuckle.” I’d love to think my perfumes had that kind of impact!

  • I can’t think of any from movies right off-hand, but the Silence of the Lambs reference reminded me, in the TV series “Hannibal”, JAR Bolt of Lighting makes an appearance. Det. Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) and his wife are having dinner with Hannibal. As Hannibal is serving her, he describes her perfume (appropriate since it doesn’t actually have a name) and asks, “Is it JAR?”. It really caught my attention because I thought it was an interesting choice.

  • Sharon C. says:

    A season or so ago, Fracas was mentioned in an episode of Castle–made my SIL very happy ’cause it’s one of her favorite scents. And several years ago on NCIS Tony found the guilty party hiding in an upstairs closet because of her Estee Lauder perfume. NCIS has made several fragrance references over the years, but not always to a specific perfume.

    The hat is great, Patty–wonderful colors for you, and it looks so warm.

  • AnnieA says:

    Can’t remember the name of the new perfume worn by the mum in “Our Dancing Daughters”, but I remember Joan Crawford saying delightedly, “Mother! It’s vicious!”

  • Mary K says:

    The hat looks great!

    One day two weeks ago there was a contestant on The Price is Right named Shalimar.

  • Carol S says:

    In Casino Royale Bond finds a bottle of SMN Melograno in his girlfriend Vesper’s handbag after she drowns .

  • Ann says:

    Hi, Patty! Can’t think of any perfumes in film right off the top of my head, besides what several other folks have mentioned, but your hat is wonderful! And you look adorable in it, like a Scandinavian princess about to ride out into the snow.

  • Musette says:

    Shalimar shows up in The Andy Griffith Episode “Ellie Saves a Female” (on the counter in the drugstore) and Mame Dennis gives Norah a bottle for Christmas in “Auntie Mame”. Love the hat!


  • Dina C. says:

    I can’t think of any perfume references in movies, but I love how the hat turned out! So cute. And it looks warm, too. I’m looking forward to sandalwood…one of my favorite notes. 🙂

  • patuxxa says:

    In Black Swan, at one point Nina (Natalie Portman) wants to get the Swan Queen role and sneaks into the dressing room of Beth (Winona Ryder) the star about to be replaced. Nina steals a lipstick and a perfume from Beth, like talismans. Later we see her dabbing on some perfume and putting on lipstick before going to see the director (Vincent Cassel) She gets the role.

    The perfume she steals from Beth is clearly identifiable as a Chanel bottle; later on it can be seen that it’s a bottle of No. 19 extrait.

  • jilliecat says:

    The Al Pacino movie, “Scent of a Woman” (naturally enough) – he mentions Caron’s Fleurs de Rocailles.

    Love your hat! You look very Nordic – maybe this could be an inspiration for a new Scandi-Noir tv series, with the heroine wearing lots of different hats (all made by you, of course).

  • taffyj says:

    Love Patty in the Hat. You look like a teenager!

  • hajusuuri says:

    Not a movie but in the latest episode of NCIS, Chief Medical Examiner Ducky smelled Shalimar extrait on a guy freshly killed by a drone. He then made Gibbs (uber sexy Mark Harmon) sniff it from the dead body on the autopsy table! Talk about disgusting!

  • eldarwen22 says:

    I can’t remember any kind of perfume references in movies or television but in the book White Oleander, I do. Obsession, L’Air du Temps and a few others were in that book.

  • Furriner says:

    In Ernst Lubitsch’s Trouble in Paradise (1932), Kay Francis plays the owner of a perfume company. This is one of my all-time favorite movies.

    In Andy Warhol’s Bad (1977), Carroll Baker plays this evil beautician/head of an all-woman hit squad. Anyway, she wears some Guerlain, either Mitsouko or Shalimar. Perry King swipes her perfume from her dresser and rubs it all over this other woman while he has sex with her.

    These are the only ones I can think of right now.

  • Tiara says:

    No 22 was in Merrick by Anne Rice. Like that hat!

  • Edward G says:

    I remember that on The Beverly Hillbillies, Granny used to dab a couple of drops of vanilla behind each ear when she wanted to appear desirable to the opposite sex!

  • Chelsea says:

    The only one I can think if is Working Girl. I think there’s a bit about Shalimar in there.