Paris When It Sizzles
American screenwriter Richard Benson (William Holden) is under contract to deliver a new script to film producer Alexander Meyerheim (Noel Coward), but he's spent the last 15 weeks in Paris drinking whiskey and living the high life. Thus, when Meyerheim is due to arrive in the City of Light on Bastille Day and, two days prior, Richard has not even started his latest work (tentatively titled The Girl Who Stole The Eiffel Tower), he hires typist Gabrielle Simpson (Audrey Hepburn) to take dictation in his hotel room in a mad dash to make good on his contract. The 1964 Paris When It Sizzles never won awards for anything, and even with its two Hollywood-legend leads, a seasoned director in Richard Quine (Bell, Book and Candle), and a script from George Axelrod (Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Manchurian Candidate), it never would anyway. The film is a lark nothing more as Holden and Hepburn (reunited ten years after Sabrina) run through a number of silly movie vignettes between elusive safe-cracker "Rick" and his femme fatale "Gabby." With endless Parisian-set double-entendres wrapped inside the framing device of Richard and Gabrielle debating the ersatz script in a lavish hotel suite and falling in love with each other fans of Holden and Hepburn will enjoy the champagne-soaked schmaltz, as well as the various costumes, film-industry gags, and clunky movie-thriller dialogue. And what's not to like when Audrey is all decked out by both Givenchy and Dior? Uncredited cameos fill the story, with brief bits from Marlene Dietrich and Mel Ferrer (Hepburn's husband), while Hepburn's Funny Face co-star Fred Astaire sings a tune, and Frank Sinatra belts out a few notes in an amusing throwaway gag. The best supporting work (also uncredited) comes from Tony Curtis, in a lethal send-up of method actors and his own Hollywood persona. Critics have panned Paris When It Sizzles over the years perhaps expecting more gravitas from its A-list roster but it certainly can be regarded as a less-polished precursor to the self-aware film comedies of Mel Brooks, as well as the Airplane and Naked Gun movies. And face it Paris When It Sizzles has a far better cast than any of them. Paramount's DVD release features a clean anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) from a good source print that only has minor flecking and color fading, with audio in DD 2.0 mono. Theatrical trailer, keep-case.