Hollywood producer Alexander Meyerheimer has hired drunken writer Richard Benson to write his latest movie. Benson has been holed up in a Paris apartment supposedly working on the script for months, but instead has spent the time living it up. Benson now has just two days to the deadline and thus hires a temporary secretary, Gabrielle Simpson, to help him complete it in time.
William Holden ... Richard Benson / Rick
Audrey Hepburn ... Gabrielle Simpson / Gaby
Grégoire Aslan ... Police Insp. Gilet
Raymond Bussières ... François (gangster #1)
Christian Duvaleix ... Maitre d\'Hotel
Michel Thomass (as Michel Thomas)
Noel Coward ... Alexander Meyerheim
I wish that I could remember the very first time I ever tasted chocolate, or felt a cool breeze, or laughed at a funny joke. I can\'t, sadly, but if I had to wager, I\'d bet that any of those three events felt very similar to my first watching of \"Paris.. When It Sizzles.\" Watching this movie feels like falling in love; sweet and joyful and slightly decadent all at once. It\'s often given a bad rap, and I can\'t for the life of me understand why. It\'s a beautiful, lighthearted romantic comedy, and the chemistry between the incomparable Audrey Hepburn and William Holden is undeniable. I\'ll admit, \"Paris..\" is no \"Sabrina,\" another (dare I say perfect) Hepburn/Holden film, but I still feel it deserves a nod as a true classic and as a highlight of the careers of both of its stars. Tony Curtis\'s cameo is pure comedy, delightful as they come. Make your own decision and see this one for yourself, especially if you are an Audrey fanatic like I am. I think you\'ll be pleasantly surprised.
William Holden really reached stardom in 1950 with \"Sunset Blvd.\", and subsequently gained an Oscar for \"Stalag 17\". A man with one of the most effective screen voices, he also was handsome in a realistic way. But it took Holden a dozen or so years of struggle in Hollywood before Billy Wilder put him into \"Sunset Blvd.\"
Imagine his fascination when (in 1954) Wilder cast him in \"Sabrina\" opposite another new star of the first rank, Ms Audrey Hepburn. Hepburn had only been in a handful of movies in the very late 1940s and early 1950s before William Wyler got her charm and intelligence to the world audience\'s in \"Roman Holiday\" (and also won her an Oscar). It is true that one of her pre-\"Roman Holiday\" films was \"The Lavandar Hill Mob\" (she had a walk-on scene as Alec Guiness\'s girlfriend), but \"Roman Holiday\" was like her fourth movie! Yet she was now Holden\'s co-star.
Most people like \"Sabrina\" (this writer does), but it has it\'s critics - mostly aiming at Humphrey Bogart as the third co-star. I think it is an unfair point to belabor the age difference between Linus(Bogart) and David Larrabee (Holden), as the screenplay does suggest that Linus is the older, more reclusive brother from the start. More important though was Billy Wilder\'s serious cast management problems. Hepburn and Holden got along with him very well, and he would work with both again. But Bogart was another matter. Bogie did not get along with either Wilder or Holden, and had little tolerance (why?) for Hepburn. So it was a chore to get the film into the can.
It\'s nice to note that before Bogie died Wilder and he made up their differences. But just as \"Roman Holiday\" opened up a lifetime friendship between Hepburn and co-star Gregory Peck; just as \"Golden Boy\" opened up a lifetime of gratitude and friendship between newcomer Holden and star Barbara Stanwick; \"Sabrina\" opened up a friendship between Hepburn and Holden (after all they had Bogie sniping at both of them).
So for years the two surviving co-stars of \"Sabrina\" hoped to work with each other in another, friendlier film. In 1962 Holden\'s contract with Paramount finally ended, and his last film for the studio was \"Paris - When It Sizzles\". And finally he and Audrey were able to do a film together again.
Unfortunately there was one serious difference - \"Sabrina\" was based on a successful play called \"Sabrina Fair\", and (whatever problems among the crew) it stands up fairly well. \"Paris - When It Sizzles\" (how much one would like Bogie to be around now to say something ironically nasty about that title!) has one of the worst film scripts imaginable for a film that has cast that includes Holden, Hepburn, Tony Curtis (in bits and pieces), Marlene Dietrich, Noel Coward, and even Mel Ferrer. Hell, even Frank Sinatra ends up on the sound-track.
It\'s supposed to be a charming spoof on screenplay hackdom. Actually there is a pretty good film about that written in the 1930s (based on a successful play) called \"Boy Meets Girl\", and starring Pat O\'Brien, Jimmy Cagney, and Ralph Bellamy. To imagine that this one is superior is an insult to the fun and craftsmanship that the authors of that farce (the Spivaks) and Pat, Jimmy, and Ralph brought to audiences from 1938 on.
Here Holden is now more rumpled and with more of the alcoholic problem that would dodge him until his accidental death in 1981. He has been given an advance to start work on a screenplay set in Paris called \"The Girl Who Stole The Eiffel Tower\"*. Holden has spent part, but has not begun the work - but a typist (Hepburn) shows up to help him with the screenplay.
*There is a film with Charles Laughton and Franchot Tone based on a novel by Georges Simonon about Inspector Maigret called \"The Man On The Eiffel Tower\" (1949), and there was also an actual fraud perpetrated twice (believe it or not) of a so-called \"Count\" who sold the \"doomed\" tower to scrap metal dealers!
What we see is Holden\'s self-contempt, for he has degraded his once good abilities by becoming a cliché master. The creativity he needs is apparently dead. As one idea after another is tried out by Holden and Hepburn (they shoot or re-shoot the imagined script and again and again, changing scenes and motivations, and even making the film a family entertainment when it can be sexy) we watch an unwatchable mess take shape.
Holden\'s idea finally becomes what if the costliest movie shot in years is stolen by an international thief and held for ransom? How would the studio owner (Coward) and the police (Gregoire Aslan and Tony Curtis) react? And what is the role of the mysterious girl (Hepburn) in this?
The results is not good - it\'s a shambles about making a script on one upside down cliché after another. Unless a spoof like that is written seriously and carefully it is never done well.
Supposedly Holden was drying out just before the film, and as it was the last on his contract his studio did not care how he would be seen in the work. But it was a really lousy film - and Paramount held back release for a couple of years.
Unfortunately, after the promise of \"Sabrina\", \"Paris - When It Sizzles\" was the last time Holden and Hepburn worked together. For the pleasure of seeing that, and Curtis (belatedly) brought in as a supporting actor (second detective of the Surete under Aslan), it\'s worth a \"5\" out of \"10\". Coward is dressed up like a Roman Emperor at a costume party. That is also of interest - but he has little to do except to act like Noel Coward above it all.
Paris When It Sizzles is acharming and delightful little comedy showcasing the absurdist talents of Audrey Hepburn and William Holden. The plot concerns a hardened screenwriter and his young protogee as they rush to meet a deadline on a film script. The plot is indeed thin,but what hangs from it is a scenery chewing delight!The film covers various scenarios of the script each involving the electric Hepburn and Holden in the leads. The humor seems to be a precourser to such fims as Airplane,History Of The World and Naked Gun. In addition to Hepburn and Holden,Noel Coward turns in a very funny cameo as the head of the studio. Witty and elegant as ever,I would have liked to have seen more of him in the film.
* Filming ended only two days before production began on Hepburn\'s next film Charade (1963). The small park with its Punch and Judy puppet stage, seen during the opening credits, appears in both films.
* Tony Curtis was a last-minute addition to the cast, apparently added to the film in much the same way in which he suddenly appears in the screenplay.
* Cameo: [Mel Ferrer] Hepburn\'s husband appears as a police driver near the end of the movie.
* During one scene, Audrey Hepburn and William Holden compare Frankenstein to My Fair Lady (1964), the latter of course being the film Audrey would soon star in. Charade (1963), Hepburn\'s next produced film, also contains a reference to My Fair Lady (1964).
* Hubert de Givenchy was the first to receive a screen credit for a scent. He got screen credit for Audrey Hepburn\'s perfume.
* The Dracula sequence was the last one completed for the film. It had to be shortened because William Holden smashed his new Ferrari into a wall and wound up in a splint.
* According to her son Sean Ferrer\'s memoir, this was Audrey Hepburn\'s least favorite of the films she made during her years as a star, this despite the fact she called it \"a joy to make\". Ferrer wrote that it taught Audrey a lesson, \"just because the film was easy to make doesn\'t mean it\'s going to be very good.\"
* Another Hepburn movie to be mentioned is \"Breakfast at Tiffany?s\", mentioned at the beginning of the masquerade scene.
* French actor Raymond Bussières is post-synchronized in English by another actor but he post-synchronized himself in the French version.
* Tony Curtis agreed to a guest role in the film as a favor to George Axelrod, because William Holden was forced to enter an alcoholic clinic in the middle of filming.