Perfume Moments in Movies : Fragrance and Cinema


Last night, I rearranged my perfume library, as Love in the Afternoon played in the background. Because I know the film by heart, I paid little attention to it until I heard Audrey Hepburn say in her delightful way, “Oh, he exports perfume and imports bananas. There’s a fortune in it. Do you realize that for one bottle of perfume you get twelve bananas?” To which Gary Cooper’s character replies, “Twelve bananas for one bottle of – doesn’t sound like such a hot deal to me.” “It’s a tiny bottle of perfume and very large bananas.” I love this exchange so much that I usually play it again.

Then, I started thinking about other great perfume at the movies moments. Whenever I have any cinema related query, Self-Styled Siren’s blog is where I go. Since Siren is a connoisseur of both films and fragrance, I was not surprised to find several fantastic articles on the subject. I would love to share them with you, because not only are they very well-written, they highlight some cinematic and fragrant gems.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Bonus: What Perfume To Wear to the Movies

Still from Love in the Afternoon



  • karin: What a wonderful topic!!!! Thanks for sharing, V!!! I LOVE Audrey Hepburn, and Love in the Afternoon is one of my favorites. I know it was a typo – but it’s Gary Cooper, not Humphrey Bogart. 🙂 But of course, we love H. in Sabrina! September 22, 2011 at 7:58am Reply

  • Maureen: I love this!! That blog is so great. The quotes are all wondeful, but that quote from When Harry Met Sally always gets me & I cry EVERY time, sap that I am. Why Oh Why can I not meet a guy that will say that to me???? September 22, 2011 at 8:33am Reply

  • OperaFan: Love this movie! Now I’ll have to watch and listen for that exchange…
    Never thought of what to wear to movies. It’s usually what I happen to be wearing! Frankly, if I had to choose, it would be something neutral or a light edt that won’t distract me from what’s going on on the big screen. September 22, 2011 at 10:43am Reply

  • Victoria: Ah, thank you for catching that! I watched Sabrina earlier too, and well, Humphrey Bogart is my favorite. 🙂 September 22, 2011 at 8:11am Reply

  • Ari: Speaking of Audrey and perfume, has anyone ever figured out what the perfume she keeps in her mailbox in Breakfast at Tiffany’s is? It’s 4711 in the book, but that wasn’t the bottle in the movie. September 22, 2011 at 8:58am Reply

  • karin: I just read on the IMDb trivia page for the movie that the perfume she’s spraying in the hallway during the drunken scenes is Makila by Jean Patou. September 22, 2011 at 3:19pm Reply

  • karin: And Atlanta1 in post #154 of a basenotes thread called Fragrance in Movies/T.V. says:

    “I have a friend here in San Diego who retired from the movie industry. He once told me that in the movie, “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” (1961), the fragrance that actress, Audrey Hepburn, pulled out of her mailbox and spritzed herself with was, indeed, her signature fragrance that was created for her in 1957 by Hubert de Givenchy. It was L’Interdit.” September 22, 2011 at 3:23pm Reply

  • Lavanya: What a lovely blog that is- I will definitely keep going back to read those posts..

    I loved Audrey Hepburn growing up – I can’t believe I’ve never seen this movie- that exchange is adorable! September 22, 2011 at 2:29pm Reply

  • Cristine: Ok, these are great! Now, I’d like to add my sophomoric favorite– “The Anchorman.” In that movie, Paul Rudd attempts to lure the new girl (Christina Applegate) into bed by the use of a cologne called “Sex Panther” made with bits of real panther, “so you know it’s good.” Will Ferrel’s reaction of “it stings the nostrils…” and, “I’m not gonna lie to you– that smells like pure gasoline….” never fails to crack me up. It ends with a fully-clothed scrubbing with a water hose outside. I think I may have smelled Sex Panther a few times in my perfume- obsessed adventures. It’s illegal in nine countries, you know. September 22, 2011 at 7:00pm Reply

  • Lynn Morgan: When Harry Met Sally??? When I saw that movie with my mom, she turned to me at the end and said, “I give it six months.” Very astute of her. What has our romantic imagination come to when we now consider an immature, oafish, cruelly sarcastic selfish man dream boat material? And the idea that Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan were college classmates (was he on the G.I. Bill from the Korean War?) is patently absurd: he was and is, obviously 20 years older than she is and the years have not been kind. What kind of feminist backlash is at work, trying to make us accept gorgeous scintillating women mating down the evol
    utionary ladder? WHMS probably started the trend, but you see it in every Katherine Heigl movie ever made. Where are the Cary Grants for the new millenium? Why are we supposed to take Billy Crystal (or Seth Rogan or Jonah Hill or some other loser) and like it? Ugh.And why is perpetual immaturity considered attractive? I have had it with forty-something frat rats.For god’s sake, take off the trucker cap (they are over anyway), put on some long pants (board shorts belong at the beach; they are silly if you live in Burbank) and act like a grown-ass man already!

    I personally never cared for “Love in the Afternoon” because the sight of aging, decrepit Gary Cooper romancing dewy, exquisite Audrey Hepburn has always made me a little quesy (and I happen to like older men!)It was kind of like impatient necrophilia. May I humbly submit that the single most romantic movie ever made is a tie between “Sabrina” (for the clothes and Bogie in a Paln beach jacket!) and “Funny Face” for Givenchy and Paris and the glory that is Fred Astaire.

    I truly despair for romance in the movies and in life. I just finished reading Sam Kashner’s “Furious Love” about the stormy relationship and marriages between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.It was a love story for the ages. Burton said of Taylor”… her breats were apocalyptic; they could have toppled empires.” Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is a far cry from “nice tits.” Perhaps we should all seek out poetry besotted Welsh actors, but I don’t think there are nearly enough to go around.

    I can’t believe that no-one mentioned “The Scent of a Woman” as a good perfume movie.

    I think I’d wear something soft and light to the movies- enclosed space and all that- but really, trying to compete with the popcorn is futile. Cheers! September 22, 2011 at 7:18pm Reply

  • Victoria: The quotes are fantastic! September 22, 2011 at 3:25pm Reply

  • Victoria: I need to watch that scene again. I only remember that the bottle had a pump! September 22, 2011 at 3:26pm Reply

  • Victoria: Neutral and light is my best bet too. I just love that post–so well-written! September 22, 2011 at 3:26pm Reply

  • Victoria: Especially when she says with an emphasis, “It’s a tiny bottle of perfume and VERY LARGE bananas.” September 22, 2011 at 3:28pm Reply

  • skilletlicker: To me, the greatest moment of perfume in the history of movies is in the movie Munich. Eric Bana meets a gorgeous woman at a European bar and remarks that he likes her scent, upon which, this woman takes his hand, turns it over, exposing his wrist. She then rubs her perfumed wrist on his wrist and after he takes in her scent, she invites him back to her room. With a pregnant wife in Israel, he turns her down but we can see how powerful the temptation is and how excrutiatingly difficult it is for him to say no. And fortunate too.
    Also, there’s a great moment in The Last Picture Show, when Ellen Burstyn barges in on her daughter Cybill Shepherd’s bedroom, sits down at her vanity, and sprays Cybill’s perfume on her neck. Cybill, irritated, reminds her mother that she has her own perfume. “I know,” Ellen Burstyn says, “but I feel like smelling nice right now.” September 22, 2011 at 5:23pm Reply

  • Lavanya: LOL,V! September 22, 2011 at 6:11pm Reply

  • Lavanya: Just realized, this movie has been in my netflix DVD queue for ages and I just canceled the DVD delivery thing. WIll look for it in my local library September 22, 2011 at 6:14pm Reply

  • Maria: Great post, great link! I love the topic.

    Do you know this scene from Münich of Spielberg? No matter you like the movie or not, the scene is one of the most sexy about perfume in movies. I love it. September 23, 2011 at 8:43am Reply

  • Ari: Thank you Karin! I hope Givenchy didn’t pay too much for that product placement, I never would have known! September 23, 2011 at 10:25am Reply

  • Victoria: I have not seen that movie, but the youtube clip below made me add it to my Netflix list.

    Thank you for sharing! September 23, 2011 at 2:40pm Reply

  • Victoria: 🙂 I think that I also smelled “Sex Panther” a few times in my perfume explorations. I bet, many of us have! 🙂 September 23, 2011 at 2:41pm Reply

  • Victoria: Lynn, I would rate Love in the Afternoon lower than some Audrey films for that reason exactly. In fact, the dim lighting used on Cooper makes me realize that the studio were aware of this too. September 23, 2011 at 2:43pm Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you so much for the link! I really should watch the movie. September 23, 2011 at 2:44pm Reply

  • Marlene: What a wonderful posting. I love old movies and I love fragrance. The best of both in this post. Thanks September 23, 2011 at 10:37pm Reply

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