Paris When It Sizzles, 1964

April 16, 2024, 5:42 a.m. Recommendations Evelyn Lark

Paris When It Sizzles, 1964

"Paris When It Sizzles" is a charmingly whimsical yet uneven ride through the romantic clichés of Paris and Hollywood’s golden age. The film stars William Holden as Richard Benson, a screenwriter with a severe case of writer’s block, and Audrey Hepburn as Gabrielle Simpson, his temporary secretary. Together, they must churn out a script in just 48 hours, leading to a series of zany, imaginative sequences as they brainstorm various scenarios.

Directed by Richard Quine, the film is a self-referential comedy that plays with the conventions of filmmaking. It is set against the backdrop of the picturesque streets and iconic landmarks of Paris, which adds a layer of romantic allure and timeless charm to the movie. However, despite its stunning visuals and charismatic leads, "Paris When It Sizzles" often struggles to maintain a coherent narrative.

Plot Creativity and Pacing Issues

The plot of "Paris When It Sizzles" is meta-fictional, with the scriptwriting process itself becoming the film’s central storyline. This allows for creative freedom, as the characters hop between various genres and plot ideas—from spy thrillers to romantic melodramas. This narrative device, while original, results in a disjointed pace that can feel erratic and confusing at times.

Paris When It Sizzles, 1964

Chemistry and Performances

The undeniable chemistry between Hepburn and Holden is the film's saving grace. Hepburn brings her usual charm, elegance, and wit to the role of Gabrielle, while Holden portrays the disillusioned, yet charismatic Richard with a natural ease. Together, they deliver performances that sparkle with comedic timing and genuine warmth, even when the script falters.

Visuals and Cinematography

Visually, the film is a treat. Cinematographer Charles Lang captures the essence of Paris beautifully, with sweeping shots of the Eiffel Tower, bustling cafes, and serene parks. The fashion, as expected with any Hepburn film, is also a highlight, featuring stunning ensembles that mirror the elegance of the city.

Paris When It Sizzles, 1964


"Paris When It Sizzles" is more of an amusing diversion than a cinematic masterpiece. It plays like a love letter to Paris and the fantastical elements of filmmaking, perfect for those who appreciate films that don’t take themselves too seriously. While it may not be as tightly constructed or as impactful as other classics of its era, it offers enough charm and nostalgia to make it worth a watch, especially for fans of Hepburn and Holden.

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