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Paris When It Sizzles is a 1964 romantic comedy film directed by Richard Quine and produced by Quine and George Axelrod. The screenplay is by George Axelrod based on the story and film La fête à Henriette by Julien Duvivier and Henri Jeanson. The music score is by Nelson Riddle, the cinematography by Charles Lang and Claude Renoir. The film stars William Holden and Audrey Hepburn, and features Grégoire Aslan, Raymond Bussières and Noel Coward.


The story concerns a veteran playboy screenwriter named Richard Benson (William Holden) who has been paid to write a screenplay for his boss, Mr. Alexander Myerheim (Noel Coward). Overly confident in his writing abilities, he puts off writing the screenplay until just two days before it is due. Gabrielle Simpson (Audrey Hepburn), a temp secretary hired by Benson to type the script, comes to Richard's hotel room where they are to spend the weekend. Richard and Gabrielle come up with various off-the-wall scenarios for his screenplay, called The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower. As the script unfolds, so does the romance between the two writers.


Some members of the cast have roles in The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower, the film-within-the-film.

Actor Role Role in the

Audrey Hepburn Gabrielle Simpson Gabby
William Holden Richard Benson Rick
Grégoire Aslan Police Inspector Gilet
Raymond Bussières   François, the gangster
Tony Curtis   Maurice, the second policeman
Noel Coward Alexander Meyerheim The Producer

Cast notes:
  • In addition to the uncredited role played by Tony Curtis, the film also features uncredited cameo appearances by Marlene Dietrich, as herself, and Mel Ferrer, Hepburn's real-life husband at the time, who plays a party guest dressed as Dr. Jekyll, while Frank Sinatra sings a few bars of the opening song, The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower.


The film, whose working title was Together in Paris, is a remake of the 1952 French film La fête à Henriette, directed by Julien Duvivier. Holden, who had had an affair with Hepburn during the making of Sabrina a decade earlier, attempted without success to rekindle a romance with the now-married actress. Holden's alcoholism was also a constant challenge for Quine, who moved into a rented house next to Holden's during production to keep an eye on him. Holden later commented on both of the problems:

Curtis was brought into the production to film during a week when Holden was undergoing treatment for his alcoholism at the prompting of the director. Lang replaced Renoir as the director of photography during production, a change demanded by Hepburn after she saw what she felt were unflattering dailies.

The movie was shot back-to-back with Charade, and shared several locations with the earlier film, most notably a Punch and Judy-style puppet theatre in a park.


Variety magazine called Paris When It Sizzles "marshmallow-weight hokum" and quoted a line from the film as an apt description of the film itself: "contrived, utterly preposterous and totally unmotivated"; it complimented the two leads, saying Hepburn is a "refreshingly individual creature in an era of the exaggerated curve" and Holden "handles his assignment commendably."

Time magazine said the film was "a multimillion dollar improvisation that does everything but what the title promises" and suggested that "writer George Axelrod (The Seven Year Itch) and director Richard Quine should have taken a hint from Holden['s character Richard Benson], who writes his movie, takes a long sober look at what he has wrought, and burns it."

Turner Classic Movies notes that "critics uniformly panned" the film but said it "has earned a reputation as a guilty pleasure for those who enjoy in-joke movie spoofs and an absurdist storyline played out against the glorious backdrop of the City of Lightmarker."


  • In one scene, Holden's character remarks that the film-in-the-film could have a theme song by Frank Sinatra. Sinatra's voice is heard singing the laughable lyric, "The girl who stole the Eiffel Tower also stole my heart" over the fictional credit sequence.

  • In his first nutshell explanation of his plot, Benson references a cat in a rain-soaked alley while a couple shares a kiss, an obvious reference to the end of Hepburn's Breakfast at Tiffany's.

  • The film-in-the-film's title, "The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower", was also used as the title of a song by Texas band The Deathray Davies.


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