Paris When It Sizzles

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Paris When It Sizzles
Paris when it sizzles.jpeg
original film poster
Directed by Richard Quine
Produced by George Axelrod
Richard Quine
Written by Story & previous screenplay:
Julien Duvivier
Henri Jeanson
Adaptation:
George Axelrod
Starring William Holden
Audrey Hepburn
Music by Nelson Riddle
Cinematography Charles Lang
Claude Renoir
Edited by Archie Marshek
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s)
  • April 8, 1964 (1964-04-08)
[1]
Running time 108[2]/110[1] minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $4 million USD (est.)

Paris When It Sizzles is a 1964 romantic comedy film directed by Richard Quine and produced by Quine and George Axelrod. The screenplay is by George Axelrod based on the story and film Holiday for Henrietta by Julien Duvivier and Henri Jeanson. The music score is by Nelson Riddle, the cinematography by Charles Lang and Claude Renoir. The film stars William Holden and Audrey Hepburn, and features Grégoire Aslan, Raymond Bussières and Noël Coward. and Tony Curtis.

Plot[edit]

The story concerns a veteran playboy screenwriter named Richard Benson (William Holden) who has been paid to write a screenplay for his boss, Mr. Alexander Myerheim (Noël Coward). Overly set in his playboy and carousing ways, he procrastinates the writing of the screenplay until just two days before it is due. Gabrielle Simpson (Audrey Hepburn), a temp secretary hired by Benson to type the script, comes to Richard's hotel room where they are to work on the script, only then finding out about their tight deadline and that not one page or line of script had yet been written. The desperate and self-loathing writer, Richard, begins to be awakened and inspired by the beautiful Gabrielle, and starts to come up with various scenarios for his screenplay, called The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower, which is based on their unfolding romance. The screenplay, with small but inspired and comedic roles for Noël Coward, Tony Curtis, and other famous stars of the day, makes fun of the movie business, actors, studio heads and itself, and is rife with allusions to the iconic earlier roles of the two main stars.

Cast[edit]

Some members of the cast have roles in The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower, the film-within-the-film.

Actor Role Role in the
film-within-the-film
Audrey Hepburn Gabrielle Simpson Gabby
William Holden Richard Benson Rick
Grégoire Aslan   Police Inspector Gilet
Raymond Bussières   François, the gangster
Tony Curtis   Gabby's narcissistic boyfriend; Maurice, the second policeman
Noël Coward Alexander Meyerheim The Producer
Cast notes
  • In addition to the uncredited role played by Tony Curtis,[3] the film also features uncredited cameo appearances by Marlene Dietrich, as herself, and Mel Ferrer,[2] Hepburn's real-life husband at the time, who plays a party guest dressed as Dr. Jekyll, while Frank Sinatra sings a few bars of the opening song, The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower.

Production[edit]

The film, whose working title was Together in Paris,[1] is a remake of the 1952 French film Holiday for Henrietta, directed by Julien Duvivier. Paramount exercised an option on their contracts with both Hepburn and Holden, forcing them to make the film together. Holden, who had had an affair with Hepburn during the making of Sabrina a decade earlier and been in love with her ever since, attempted without success to rekindle a romance with the now-married actress.[4] Holden's alcoholism was also a constant challenge for Quine, who moved into a rented house next to Holden's during production to keep an eye on him.[4] Holden later commented on both of the problems:[4]

Curtis was brought into the production to film during a week when Holden was undergoing treatment for his alcoholism at the prompting of the director.[4] Lang replaced Renoir as the director of photography during production, a change demanded by Hepburn after she saw what she felt were unflattering dailies.[4]

Hepburn shot the film in the summer of 1962, back-to-back with Charade, which she shot that fall. The films shared several locations, most notably a Punch and Judy puppet theatre in the park in front of the Théâtre Marigny.

Reception[edit]

Variety called Paris When It Sizzles "marshmallow-weight hokum" and quoted a line from the film as an apt description of the film itself: "contrived, utterly preposterous and totally unmotivated"; it complimented the two leads, saying Hepburn is a "refreshingly individual creature in an era of the exaggerated curve" and Holden "handles his assignment commendably."[2]

Time said the film was "a multimillion dollar improvisation that does everything but what the title promises" and suggested that "writer George Axelrod (The Seven Year Itch) and director Richard Quine should have taken a hint from Holden['s character Richard Benson], who writes his movie, takes a long sober look at what he has wrought, and burns it."[5]

Turner Classic Movies notes that "critics uniformly panned" the film but said it "has earned a reputation as a guilty pleasure for those who enjoy in-joke movie spoofs and an absurdist storyline played out against the glorious backdrop of the City of Light."[4]

Film-within-the-film[edit]

  • In one scene, Holden's character remarks that the film-in-the-film could have a theme song by Frank Sinatra. Sinatra's voice is heard singing the laughable lyric, "The girl who stole the Eiffel Tower also stole my heart" over the fictional credit sequence.
  • Another film from Hepburn's back-catalogue, My Fair Lady, is mentioned as being the same story as Frankenstein moments after a reference to a prostitute with "a heart of gold", an allusion to Hepburn's character Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Paris When It Sizzles at the TCM Movie Database
  2. ^ a b c "Paris When It Sizzles". Variety. January 1, 1964. Retrieved 2009-05-27. 
  3. ^ Paris When It Sizzles at the Internet Movie Database
  4. ^ a b c d e f Eleanor Quin. "Paris When It Sizzles: Overview Article". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2009-05-27. 
  5. ^ "Flame-Out". Time. April 17, 1964. Retrieved 2009-05-27. 

External links[edit]