|Audrey Hepburn & William Holden teamed a second time for “Paris When it Sizzles.”|
avoided the ‘60s rom-com Paris When It
Sizzles because of its rotten reputation. Until recently, I wrote it off as
just another lame sex comedy, a campy spoof from the ‘60s. Bedroom farces are
one of my least favorite film genres. In this era, it was mostly talk about sex, with much winking and
nudging. These movies are usually loud and frantic, with lavish visuals and
slim plots—not to mention a dated mentality. Think That Touch of Mink, A New
Kind of Love, What a Way to Go!,
and What’s New, Pussycat? These films
are just a few of many titles.
|Audrey Hepburn brings her usual class and comedic style to “Paris When it Sizzles.”|
sets Paris When it Sizzles apart is
that it spoofs sex farces and the
film industry. Richard Quine deftly directed this comedy and screenwriter/playwright
George Axelrod supplied the zingers. The shaggy dog style of storytelling
perplexed critics and audiences alike when Paris
was released. More than a few critics pointed out that William Holden wasn’t
Cary Grant. Hey, Cary Grant himself once said, “Even I want to be Cary Grant!”
|William Holden as a hard-drinking screenwriter wasn’t exactly a stretch, but Bill
gives a solid comedy performance in “Paris When it Sizzles.”
subtle comedic skills are one of the saving graces of Paris When It Sizzles. William Holden seemed to be playing Norman
Maine of A Star is Born off-camera; Audrey Hepburn, his once co-star in Sabrina, was now a superstar. And Audrey
chose not to be his Vicki Lester. The stars apparently had an affair during Sabrina. But his bad marriage, drinking,
and vasectomy put an end to any thoughts of Audrey marrying Bill. While she
remained most fond of Holden, Hepburn was now married to Mel Ferrer and
starting a family. This disappointed Holden and furthered his drinking despair.
Still, the two got on well during the shoot, despite Bill’s angst and antics.
Holden and Hepburn displayed a warm chemistry on film, if not sizzling.
|I love this shot of Bill & Audrey, on location for “Paris When it Sizzles.”|
Richard, the screenwriter who drinks more than he writes, Holden has most of
the dialogue, with the showbiz veteran sharing his font of knowledge to Hepburn’s
newbie secretary. The writer with the gift of gab also narrates the film. This
seemed to be a Holden hat trick, especially with his Hollywood-set films: Sunset Blvd., Paris When It Sizzles, and Fedora.
That’s just fine, because Bill had a warm, distinctive speaking voice.
|Audrey Hepburn is a secretary sent to Bill Holden’s screenwriter to get the script done!|
William Holden looks prematurely aged in Paris
When It Sizzles. But his weathered looks had been noticed for a decade, as when
Bill’s hair was dyed blonde in Sabrina
as the carefree playboy. It was again noted a year later, when Holden played
20-something Hal in Picnic, at age 37.
Even on Sunset Blvd., when clean-living
Gloria Swanson refused to wear old-age make up at 50, they gave Bill a college
boy haircut and plenty of pancake makeup.
|Bill Holden in “Sunset Blvd.,” a dozen years before filming “Paris When it Sizzles.”|
William Holden was 44, and people were really startled by his fading good
looks. This was a bit of karmic irony, since back on Sabrina, the main criticism was that Humphrey Bogart was too old to
play Bill’s brother and Audrey’s suitor—and rightfully so. Perhaps Holden
should have played the older brother and a younger star should have played the
young playboy, like Tab Hunter or Robert Wagner. Or John Kerr, who looked like
|Just four years after “Sunset Blvd.,” Bill at 36, with Audrey Hepburn in “Sabrina.”|
Bill’s face, he’s in fine form. Holden is semi-shirtless for the first segment
of the film and he doesn’t have an ounce of fat on him. At one point, Audrey’s
character even finds him doing a headstand! Bill’s quite graceful in his
extended comic moments, literally laying out the empty script pages as he moves
about the apartment, spouting non-stop dialogue all the while. And he’s relaxed
and loose in the dance scene that spoofs Funny
|William Holden’s drinking was taking it’s toll on his face, but his body was still fit.|
the movie genres spoofed are more silly than smart, Holden and Hepburn are most
game. What really provides most of the genuine laughs are the asides that the
duo delivers on the sex comedy genre and movie industry. The plot revolves
around a weekend where the screenwriter must finish a long delayed project,
“The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower.” The producer has sent a charming typist
with a background in film to help him finish. Holden and Hepburn’s characters
strike me as equals: Holden isn’t a wolf looking to seduce a helpless woman;
Hepburn isn’t a desperate female looking for a hapless male.
|A nifty scene when Bill Holden’s erratic screenwriter decides not to quit writing.|
of the nonstop banter and flirting is the heavy-handed double entendres that
were typical of the era. It’s true that Paris
When It Sizzles doesn’t have the snap of Billy Wilder’s best films. Yet, the
type of ironic banter reminds me of later TV shows like Friends or Seinfeld. Apparently
‘60s audiences or critics didn’t appreciate subtlety in their sex comedies.
scenes where Bill and Audrey’s characters are holed up in his lavish apartment,
feverishly working on his script, are the most charming. I especially love
where the script’s sophisticated lead characters order a sumptuous lunch which
dissolves to the scriptwriter and secretary ravenously ordering lavish room
service. And when Bill puts on those glasses like he did in Born Yesterday, they are framed by his warm
blue eyes and wry smile.
|Occasional scenes like this show Holden’s premature aging in “Paris When it Sizzles.”|
only cringe-worthy moments are during a horror movie spoof , where Holden is supposed
to be Dracula and the Wolf Man, with colored lights shining up his face to make
him look scary—but just makes 40-something Bill look 60!
has some good lines, too. Unlike most of the ‘60s sex comedies, Hepburn is no
unwilling participant, defending her honor. At one point, Gabrielle says, “I’m
not that kind of girl.” Then she looks toward the camera and says, “I hate
girls that say things like that!”
|Audrey Hepburn lets her hair down as a “seductive spy” in “Paris When it Sizzles.”|
uses her lanky physicality well, when getting chased by Bill in his various
movie spoof guises. Audrey’s charmingly flirtatious in her understated way and
of course looks like a million in her Givenchy wardrobe. In several scenes,
Hepburn’s lovely frocks and Holden’s classy casual wear would make Mad Men’s Don and Betty Draper green
|Holden & Hepburn make a stylish couple as they work on his film script!|
Axelrod’s script doesn’t feel dated like some of his previous work, since the
leading lady’s not the butt of his jokes, as in The Seven Year Itch. He also wrote the script for Breakfast at Tiffany’s and must have had
a crush on Audrey. Because while Holden gets much of the dialogue, Hepburn gets
so much homage from her previous films it’s like Audrey’s greatest hits. Roman Holiday, Sabrina, Funny Face, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and My Fair Lady all get a nod here.
|Tony Curtis is a riot as a vain, clueless actor in “Paris When it Sizzles.”|
are a few star cameos: Noel Coward is his usual latter day precious self as the
crass producer; Marlene Dietrich looks divine for the hot minute she’s on screen;
Tony Curtis, not a favorite, is hysterical as the ham actor. Curtis is at the
absolute peak of his great looks here—and knows it! First, he’s the actor
pretending to be a method actor, through Holden’s eyes. Tony is utterly daft in
his delivery, but also quite funny in his mannerisms and catchphrases of the
hip serious actor. Later, Curtis shows up again, this time as a different version
of the character, playing a preening movie star who was impersonating a method
actor. Curtis’ clueless actor is just as funny and Tony steals the show. Lucky,
Bill was delivering his performance or Curtis might have replaced Holden!
|When I was a wee child of the ’60s, I used to get
Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy mixed up!
great stars in lovely Paris, lovely clothes and sets, tossing some clever
lines—a classic it ain’t—but Paris When
It Sizzles is pretty breezy fun.
|William Holden & Audrey Hepburn in a close-up clinch for “Paris When it Sizzles.”|
Bonus!Here’s my look at Bill Holden’s breakout year!
Source : https://ricksrealreel.blogspot.com/2022/05/holden-hepburn-paris-when-it-sizzles.html