Scent of Mystery/Mario Nascimbene

August 16, 2008







In glorious Smell-O-Vision (smells emitted in the theater during the showing) was the unique concept Michael Todd Jr. tried to use to carry on the Todd tradition with Scent of Mystery. The Todd AO (American Optical) system, “Cinerama out of one hole”, was co-invented by AO and Michael Todd in the early 50’s with the culmination being Around the World In 80 Days. Filmed on 65mm negative stock at 30 FPS and then contact printed to 70mm, with the extra 5mm being used for the multi channel stereo. The result was spectacular if you were fortunate to see it when it was initially released. Scent of Mystery was filmed slightly differently using a wider aspect ratio of 2.59:1 instead of 2.20:1 and offering 8-channel sound (pre Dolby) with a control signal that emitted sounds all over the theater as the script dictated. Along with various smells that provided clues to the mystery Todd Jr. truly created a most unusual audience experience. The problem was the “experience” didn’t go over well at the initial openings and with the editing, printing it to 35mm format, and eliminating the smells, the film just made no sense on its re-release. I think the entire cost of the Todd AO process was a huge stumbling block to theaters and caused changes that weren’t in the best interest of the concept. Starring Denholm Elliott, Peter Lorre, Beverly Bentley, and Diana Dors, the comedy/mystery story tells of a tourist who just happens upon a plot to kill an American tourist. The Oscar winning cinematographer Jack Cardiff directed it.

While the film floundered the Mario Nascimbene score didn’t. Kritzerland has just re-mastered and released this fine soundtrack to CD KR 20011 with a limited edition 1000 copy release. The “Overture” uses the early stereo technique of left only, right only, and showing movement by going from left to right. Mario incorporates the horns of the cars as part of the overture nicely melding them as percussion. He uses both the “Scent of Mystery” and “The Chase” themes in the compilation with a nice bridge hinting at the march of the toy soldiers. A very nice overture!

“Butterfly” is a playful adventure featuring some nice clarinet work backed with some strings, and then a brief interruption of a marching boy chorus complete with pan tapping percussion, which quickly fades away, and backs to the clarinet solo. “Organ Accident” is a brief hurdy gurdy theme while “Diana Dors Blues” offers some stripper style blues complete with a wa wa muted trumpet, vibes, and clarinet harmony. There is some Spanish hat dance flavor in “Guadix Guitar”, comical marching music in “Pamiona Stomp”, romantic solo guitar in “Party Guitar” and some playful underscore in “The Shadow Turns.” Eddie Fisher is well Eddie Fisher in his vocal versions of “Scent of Mystery” and “The Chase” written by Ramin and Adamson. If you like Eddie you’ll love it: if not oh well, there included as part of the package. The score offers a lot of different styles of music making for an interesting and varied 36 minutes of listening. You’ll hear little in the way of landscape music. Each track is unique.

The re-mastering done by James Nelson at Digital Outland was up to his usual high standards. Since this was a situation where I had the original LP, my own re-master with Adobe Audition, and the new release it was fun to compare. Let me just say that for nostalgia the LP might get spun once in awhile. The hiss, clicks, and pops do add something to the listening experience can’t explain that in a logical fashion but the older generation understands. I’m sure James could also teach me a thing or two about Adobe! I would like to hear one day the original quality of the 8-channel sound, which I was never able to hear, as few did, given the disaster of the release. If you like Mario and the European style of the early 1960’s you’ll like it. Recommended.


Track listing

1. Overture (03:20)


2. Butterfly (02:50)


3. Medley: Street Stroll & Malaga Shoe Shine Boy (02:59)


4. Organ Accident (01:25)


5. Diana Dors Blues (01:48)


6. Oh Yes, Beautiful (00:46)


7. Guadix Guitar (01:32)


8. Scent Of Mystery (02:31)

Sung by Eddie Fisher

9. The Chase (04:49)


10. Pamplona Stomp (01:40)


11. The Shadow Turns (03:03)


12. Party Guitar (02:42)


13. Flying Wild (03:40)


14. The Chase (02:54)

Sung by Eddie Fisher

Total Duration: 00:35:59


Golden Score Rating is ***

Kritzerland KR 20011



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