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USA 1964
Directed by
Richard Quine
110 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2 stars

Paris When It Sizzles

Paris When It Sizzles is a remake of a 1952 film. La Fête à Henriette, by Julien Duvivier and Henri Jeanson.  William Holden plays a heavy-drinking screenwriter, Richard Benson, who has been paid to write a screenplay by producer, Alexander Myerheim (Noël Coward). But two days before the delivery date he hasn’t written a word. When a temp secretary (Audrey Hepburn) comes to Benson's Parisian hotel room to type the non-existent script they invent one on the spot called The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower and we see the film they write as they imagine it.

Typical of the glossily-packaged, vacuous fol-de-rol that Hollywood was churning out from the late 1950s to mid-'60s' even in its day this film was roundly panned as nonsense. Although time hasn’t improved it, it deserves at least passing attention for its self-cannibalizing meta-commentary on Tinseltown's factory approach to film-making..  

The film was shot back-to-back with Charade (1963), another but much better film in the same style starring Hepburn and Cary Grant which shared several locations with it, most notably a Grand Guignol puppet theatre in a park. There are references to Hepburn’s Breakfast at Tiffany's.(1961) and My Fair Lady (1964) whilst an uncredited Mel Ferrer who was Hepburn's husband at the time, makes a cameo appearance (as does Marlene Dietrich).

It’s all rather self-congratulatory, tiresomely contrived stuff and does nothing for Hepburn who had the original director of photography, Claude Renoir, replaced by Charles Lang as she felt the rushes were unflattering to her, which is fair enough as she has nothing to trade on here except her looks.  Holden, however, who was battling a drinking problem (he had also had an affair with Hepburn whilst filming Sabrina a decade earlier and unsuccessfully tried to re-ignite it) does a good job playing a role for which Cary Grant would have been a much better choice. Overall, despite its pedigree the film has little to recommend for those other than fans of the period style




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