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To be honest, PARIS WHEN IT SIZZLES ($30) is something of an oddball Audrey Hepburn title, however it is a film that I like very much nonetheless. Because PARIS WHEN IT SIZZLES is too much of an "inside joke" on the movie business during the 1960s, modern audiences will not warm up to as much a film buff might. Still, PARIS WHEN IT SIZZLES does have the Audrey Hepburn, whose appeal is pretty universal.

Set in the title city, the plot of PARIS WHEN IT SIZZLES centers on screenwriter Richard Benson (William Holden), who has been commissioned to write a screenplay for producer Alexander Meyerheim (Noel Coward). However, instead of writing, Richard has been fritting away his time and engaging in an alcoholic excess that has depleted the advance he was given to write the script. Two days before the screenplay is due, Gabrielle Simpson (Audrey Hepburn) shows up on Richard's doorstep to type out Richard’s completed script. Armed with nothing more than the title The Girl Who Stole The Eiffel Tower and Gabrielle serving as his muse, Richard endeavors to produce a script in the time remaining. With Richard and Gabrielle assuming the leading roles in the unwritten screenplay, the audience watches the story unfold as he imagines it, even backtracking when story revisions are required. PARIS WHEN IT SIZZLES is an effervescent concoction filled with light, breezy humor and a few moments of genuine hilarity. The film has one inspired running gag featuring an uncredited Tony Curtis, who is at his scene stealing best. Other uncredited cameos include Marlene Dietrich, Mel Ferrer and Frank Sinatra who makes a vocal appearance on the soundtrack.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made PARIS WHEN IT SIZZLES available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. I was fortunate to see a Technicolor print of PARIS WHEN IT SIZZLES some years back at a revival and believe me when I say the colors popped off the screen. This presentation is very good, but alas, the colors don't leap at you the same way they do when in the presence of a genuine IB Technicolor print. The image on the DVD is fairly sharp and provides a good level of detail- let us not forget PARIS WHEN IT SIZZLES was released in 1964. Shots involving optical fades and other transitions appear softer and display some noticeable grain. In general, colors are very appealing and reproduce with solid looking hues. Some colors appear more vibrant than others, although flesh tones always appear fairly natural. Black are pretty accurate and shadow detail is decent by today's standards. The film element is pretty clean, with relatively minor blemishes being the only real reminder of age. Digital compression artifacts remain out of sight during the presentation.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is free from any form of major distortion, although a bit of hiss does creep into the track in places. The limited fidelity can make the music sound a bit harsh at higher volume levels. However, the Nelson Riddle music never sounds bad. Dialogue is always intelligible and the actors' voices are distinct. A French monaural soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English subtitles. The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a theatrical trailer.

PARIS WHEN IT SIZZLES is a worthy addition to Paramount's Audrey Hepburn collection. The DVD looks and sounds just fine, making this a worthwhile acquisition for film buffs. Casual viewers looking to experience their first Audrey Hepburn film should sample SABRINA, FUNNY FACE or MY FAIR LADY first.


Paris When It Sizzles


DVD reviews are Copyright 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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