Paris When it Sizzles (1964)

August 26th, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Richard Quine | Cast: William Holden, Audrey Hepburn, Grégoire Aslan | Drama 110’

When he decided to remake Julien Duvivier’s La Fete a Henriette (1952), was it screenwriter George Axelrod’s intention all along that the lead in this repost to the auteur theory be played by William Holden?

Holden had already served as Billy Wilder’s narrator and spokesman for disaffected scriptwriters everywhere in Sunset Boulevard; in which he complained that audiences don’t realise anybody writes a movie, they just think the actors make it up as they go along. (Which if this weren’t a remake of an earlier film one might have thought Axelrod had himself just done.)

Audiences contemplating this extravagant shambles, however, know exactly where the blame lies since Alexrod constantly draws attention to his culpability in writing this script; while denigrating all the ‘little people’ involved in making the film itself. His arguments would have carried more weight had he marshalled them more coherently himself and he’d cast a lead actor who could play comedy.

An overwritten and overacted soufflé that fails to rise (which desperately overuses zooms, pans and wipes as if it were a Bollywood movie), with an appropriately overemphatic score by Nelson Riddle. It’s its production values and star power (notably a rather sweet extended cameo by Tony Curtis) that make it watchable. But it goes on for far too long.

Mind you, Resnais made just as much of a pig’s ear of similar subject matter with Providence. @RichardChatten

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