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Paul Rayton Remembers "Scent of Mystery" in 3 minutes and 49 seconds

The 70mm Newsletter
Interviewed by: Thomas Hauerslev, 30 April 2014, Copenhagen Airport Kastrup. Interview transcribed by Brian Guckian, Ireland Date: 01.05.2014
TH: Tell us about your childhood memories of seeing “Scent of Mystery” in New York –

PR: Well, in the early months of 1960 – I was about 18 at the time – we were part of a school group. A big thing for us in New Hampshire was to go to New York City – “the big city” – but a bit of a drive though (I believe we went in cars, but can’t remember). It’s just under 300 miles, and most of the expressways at the time were still not completed, so it was a long trip for a kid from Hanover, New Hampshire, to New York City.

So we got there – it was kind of a big thing for us kids – it was a chaperone school, or some other youth group, so most of our events were scheduled.

But we had one afternoon that was available for something of interest to us. I had seen ads in the newspaper advertising this thing, “Scent of Mystery”, and it said, “In Smell-O-Vision”. So I’m thinking, “Well, I have my afternoon off – cool! Let’s go to see this ‘Smell-O-Vision’ thing”. So I ended up being one of the apparently few people who actually saw the original movie as a 70mm print, with the Smell-O-Vision process in effect.

What I remember about the movie was that I believe the odours were directed towards us by little pipes in between the seats in front of us. And it was okay – I don’t remember a lot of them – I remember a scent of some shaving cream, and a couple of other smells, vaguely. But I didn’t think the process worked all that great – I didn’t have the complaint about the smell lingering afterwards, which apparently was one of them – but still I was getting some smells. But OK – it was a process, but possibly not perfect.
More in 70mm reading:

A Tale of Old Whiff

"Scent of Mystery" Variety review

An Interview with Mike Todd, Jr.

"Scent of Mystery" Some thoughts after a 2004 screening

The Lingering Reek of “Smell-O-Vision”

Oliver Michael Todd in Conversation with Thomas Hauerslev

A Nostalgic View of 70mm in New York City - 1950-1970

Speech for Poul Rayton 2005

Movie Enhanced with Internet-based Fragrance System

Internet link:

Anyways, the movie ended, and I had a recollection that it was the Rivoli Theatre, but according to the newspaper ads I looked at subsequently it seems it was the Warner Theatre. In any event, I was looking around the theatre, and I guess the projection room was on the main floor so it had a straight shot at the screen. I knew about movies and projection rooms by then – I had already done some work with projection rooms, etc. There was a door – “OK, why don’t I just – I’m a kid from, you know, outside the city, so let’s see if I can see it.”

So I opened the door, and in there, it looked to be, from what I recall now, a pair of DP70s, and it all looked neat, and the older projectionist in there said, “What are you doing in here! You don’t belong in here – get out!” So – I was summarily dismissed and sent packing. My little booth tour was fairly short, but at least I saw it!

And that’s all I recall really, about “Scent of Mystery”, other than about 40 years later, when we started to get those old prints out, in all their pink glory, and watch them.

TH: Do you remember if the film was preceded by “The Tale of Old Whiff” – the cartoon?

PR: I can’t remember that – that’s waaay too long ago...makes my head spin, to think of all those years! But I don’t remember anything pre-show at all...just the fact of the name of the movie, and the process: that was the main attraction.
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Updated 07-01-21