Paris – When it Sizzles (1964)

“Paris – When it Sizzles” (1964)


sunset at the tower

This is an interesting study case:

As a film, it’s hardly any good. Simple direction, ordinary editing, nothing relevant, it’s a product of old times, but worse than others that created and followed its model.

As entertainment, it lost the value that it might have had in its day. And that’s not specially bad about this specific film. Romantic comedy has to be the genre that gets outdated more easily, because it deals with very dated needs and demands of the audiences. So, this film is as outdated today, as any of our days’ romantic comedies will be in 50 years.

The acting by the main actors is tolerable even though we saw Hepburn, Holden and Curtis do better in many of their other films. And although this is not so well suited to Audrey’s character, we still have her class, the most remarkable in filmdom.

But something makes this film a remarkable and unique piece that you will eventually have to see if you care about cinema and shift the french printed on it at the beginning of the 60′. So here we have a film literally about film writing. From the very beginning we are allowed to know that we will be watching a film which is making itself, inventing as it goes along. Naturally the main characters had to be a writer, and a typist, who unwillingly becomes a writer as well. We have two levels: that of the reality of the hotel room in Paris, which already is ostensibly artificial (that’s why Holden says he had the Eiffel tower placed so he’d know he was in Paris) and the level of the film within, a provisional reality, constantly changing, and affected by what goes on in the room. This constant changes in the film within would provide the entertainment part here (Tony Curtis acts to be funny, and he is).

But where things really become interesting is in the french connection: there are a lot of explicit references to the new wave that was hitting Paris and french cinema those days. Those references were always mockery, things about how in those new films “nothing happens”. And we get this film as the opposite of that, a feast to the eye, where the narrative is filled with events, regardless how silly they sound, even in the context of the film, and even in the context of the film within! What we have is the old fashioned way, and that’s assumed. And the battle field is Paris, at once the stage of the new wave, where deep changes take place, and one of the most cherished locations of the “old days”, one the most used places in the history of film, with all its iconic places, charged with symbolism in the post-war American cinema. That’s what’s at stake here: the rise of new paradigms, that threatened what “american cinema” for the masses meant back than. That’s why the provisional title for the film within was “The woman who stole the Eiffel tower”.

The decadence of Holden’s character (that mirrors what Holden himself was going through at this time) can be accounted with a symbolic weight. The 60′ were a decade of European bright cinema, that Hollywood would follow, leaded by the so called Vietnam generation.

The popcorn selling kiss, that is the more lasting scene of this film in how it fulfills its own assumed cliché is a twilight to a certain type of film. Oh, and we had Audrey…

My opinion: 3/5 a bad film that you really have to see.

This comment on IMDb


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