Plot: What’s it about?
Richard Benson (William Holden) has been hired by a powerful producer to pen his next motion picture, but while this seems like good news, it could turn into bad news soon enough. As time has passed, Benson has been holed up inside a Paris apartment, which offered him the isolation and environment needed to write the screenplay. But while he was supposed to be working on the script, he has done little aside from wasting time and of course, his bouts with the bottle have kept his pretty busy as well. He has been meaning to crack down on himself and get to work, but distractions always surface and he ends up getting very little done. Now time has lapsed to almost deadline status, as he has just two days to complete the screenplay or else face the music. In an effort to get himself on track, he has hired a personal secretary, Gabrielle Simpson (Audrey Hepburn) to assist him in these final two days of work. But even with this outside help, can Benson manage to finish his work and perhaps even end up a better person in the process?
This is a lesser known flick, but it has some strong star power, so I was pleased to see it released onto our favorite format. I have mixed feelings about Paris When It Sizzles, but it has some good elements and of course, a couple really good performances. This is pretty much a vehicle for Audrey Hepburn and William Holden, with Hepburn being the main reason to sit down and take this one in. I don’t think the flick is that bad, but it isn’t that good either and as such, Hepburn’s performance saves this from sinking down the tubes. I think if you remove her presence, then this movie would really fade fast, but since she is present, the film is elevated to tolerable status. The storyline is weak at best, the writing seems flat, and the humor is very inconsistent at best. Again, this doesn’t make it a terrible motion picture, but it falls short all too often and ends up just decent, if you want to be kind. But if you’re a Hepburn fanatic and need to see her full body of work, there’s no better time than now and no better chance than this new disc.
This disc was released as part of Paramount’s Audrey Hepburn Collection, so guess who we’re gonna talk about in this section? As I mentioned above, her involvement makes this a tolerable affair and that speaks volumes for her screen presence. Although we’re used to seeing stars sleepwalk through lesser roles, Hepburn never seems out of focus in this one, very impressive indeed. In a film like this one, filled with “in jokes” that fall short and such, Hepburn has to perform even better than usual, but she never falters even a shade. Her on screen charm and charisma really seem in full force here, even with such low rent material to work with. You can also see Hepburn in such films as Charade, Roman Holiday, Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Sabrina, and Funny Face. The cast also includes William Holden (Network, The Bridge On The River Kwai), Mel Ferrer (Eaten Alive, The Fall of the Roman Empire), Tony Curtis (Rosemary’s Baby, Spartacus), and Marlene Dietrich (Touch of Evil, The Garden of Allah).
Video: How does it look?
Paris When It Sizzles is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. I am pleased with this presentation on the whole, even though some age related flaws pop up at times. The print looks clean most of the time, but shows some debris and wear signs, though not more than you’d expect. The colors seem natural, but bright when needed and flesh tones come across well also. I found the contrast to be a little light in places, but usually it was well balanced and caused me no reason to fret. A little rough around the edges, but a more than solid visual presentation, given the film’s age.
Audio: How does it sound?
Not much to discuss on this end, as the included mono option is decent, but offers little aside from the sheer basics. The audio is pretty clean and shows minimal signs of age, but some flaws do surface in the end. I heard a small amount of hiss at times and a tad of harshness, which weren’t serious, but worth a mention. These problems were rather small however and to expected from mono materials of this age, so no rash score knocks. The dialogue is very clear and easy to understand at all times, a more than solid overall audio presentation. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as some English subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer.