In 1964 Paramount Pictures attempted to recapture the magic of the hit Audrey Hepburn vehicle Sabrina by teaming her up again with that film's costar William Holden. They sent the two stars to Paris for the location shoot along with director Richard Quine and a screenplay by George Axelrod to shoot the film Paris When it Sizzles. Unfortunately for all concerned the result was a movie that almost immediately took the nickname Paris When it Fizzles. The film was a disaster both in the box-office and for the principles themselves.
Paris When it Sizzles was supposed to be a light romantic comedy in the tradition of Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief. William Holden is a deadbeat scriptwriter (working for Paramount Pictures naturally) who has a three day deadline to write a picture. He hires on a typist to help him with the transcription of his unwritten film and when Audrey Hepburn arrives he begins dragging her through all sorts of supposedly funny situations. Holden narrates the action and he and Hepburn become the stars in his imaginary film. The problem with Paris When it Sizzles is that it's simply not funny. There's absolutely no chemistry between Holden and Hepburn, the dialogue is labored and dull and the plot line is incomprehensible. Aside from the beautiful Paris locations there's almost nothing to like about this film.
Part of Paramount's Audrey Hepburn collection, Paris When it Sizzles sports a very good transfer. The color saturation is deep without bleeding, the black levels, contrast and shadow detail are all right on the money. Paramount used almost pristine film elements for the transfer and it probably hasn't looked better in decades. Unlike some of the other titles in this collection Paris When it Sizzles shows no hint of over sharpening or digital artifacting.
The original mono soundtrack included on this disc is very clean and clear. The dialogue, music and incidental sound effects are nicely mixed and pleasant to listen to. There is a little bit of hiss if you listen closely but it's a minor flaw that's easily off set by the relatively broad dynamic range of the track. For comparison listen to the French dubbed track included on the disc as it shows its age with many pops and plenty of clipping on the high and low ends of the spectrum.
Though Paris When it Sizzles isn't one of Hepburn's more significant films we fans would certainly have enjoyed at least some ancillary content but Paramount offers the theatrical trailer and nothing more. This is another opportunity lost on a studio that seems to have problems understanding the DVD market.
If you're a hardcore Audrey Hepburn fan you'll probably want Paris When it Sizzles in your collection. The nice transfer is worth the price of admission alone. On the other hand, if you're unfamiliar with the film or have only a casual curiosity about it you should skip shelling out the MSRP and go for a rental instead.