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  Paris When It Sizzles The Write StuffBuy this film here.
Year: 1964
Director: Richard Quine
Stars: William Holden, Audrey Hepburn, Grégoire Aslan, Noel Coward, Tony Curtis, Raymond Bussières, Christian Duvaliex, Michel Thomass, Dominique Boschero, Evi Marandi, Marlene Dietrich, Mel Ferrer
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Film producer Alexander Meyerheim (Noel Coward) is relaxing by a French beach, anticipating the delivery of his latest script which is being written by the highly-paid Richard Benson (William Holden), but when he mentions his name while dictating a memo, he receives an earful from one of the young ladies lounging around who has previously encountered the writer. Meanwhile, in Paris Richard is relaxing himself, sipping Bloody Marys while waiting for a typist to arrive so he can begin the script, called "The Girl who Stole the Eiffel Tower". Although he has hung "Do Not Disturb" signs on his hotel room door, the typist, Gabrielle (Audrey Hepburn) rings the bell and Richard resignedly tells her to come in. They only have a couple of days to complete the script - will they succeed?

Paris When It Sizzles was adapted by Geroge Axelrod from Julien Duvivier and Henri Jeanson's original French film La Fête à Henriette, made around ten years before. This is one of the comedies produced when Hollywood was still dazzling with sumptuous splendour, so it was made partly on location and features lavish fantasy sequences as the two main characters try to work out the plotting. It's so self-referential as to look positively self-obsessed in a way that might be labelled post-modern in future years, but mainly it presents itself as a light and bubbly and offering two films for the price of one, with the ever-changing film within a film stories running alongside each other.

As this is a romance as well as a comedy, Richard and Gabrielle must fall in love over the course of the weekend leading up to Bastille Day, when she has a date with a Frenchman she promises to keep. She proves to have more imaginative ideas about the script than Richard, who puts himself, as Rick, and Gabrielle, as Gaby, in the film as the main characters in a sort of spy thriller with romantic and humorous overtones. Gabrielle sees the womanising Rick as a vampire - literally - and a nice touch has his cave-bound laboratory concocting Bloody Marys, then the both of them in a World War I dogfight with her shooting him down.

The film wants to impress you with its blasé attitude to stardom, and has Marlene Dietrich appear at the start of one scene for about ten seconds only for Richard to announce that she will never appear after that, and she doesn't either. In another bit, Frank Sinatra sings the title song of The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower, all two lines of it, and doesn't even feature onscreen. However, the overall effect is to make you wonder if the filmmakers are not taking it seriously, then why should you? Even Richard is unimpressed with the film we've just seen by the end, and says so in no uncertain terms. Paris When It Sizzles is finally inconsequential, blessed with the style of the time that was about to be dismissed when the likes Bonnie and Clyde and Easy Rider came along, but its stars remained charming, with Tony Curtis sending himself up in an unbilled role, and overall it's a pleasant enough diversion. Music by Nelson Riddle.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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