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Hamlet Safonov
Hamlet Safonov

Paris When It Sizzles

Richard and Gabrielle then begin to weave a script together, and Richard is awakened and inspired by the beautiful Gabrielle. They imagine various scenarios for his screenplay, The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower, which is based on their unfolding romance as Gabrielle goes back and forth between thinking Richard is a good man and her budding attraction to him, and her hesitancy when considering he described himself as a "liar and a thief" for taking Meyerheim's money and not delivering the script earlier. The screenplay, with small but inspired and comedic roles for Noël Coward, Tony Curtis, and other famous stars of the era, spoofs the movie industry, actors, studio heads, and itself, and is rife with allusions to the earlier film roles of Hepburn and Holden.

Paris When It Sizzles

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.[4] Noel Coward worked on the film for three days, and a cameo from Marlene Dietrich meant to duplicate the many cameos of Around the World in 80 Days (1956).[5]

Holden and Miss Hepburn could not help being engaging, and they certainly are that in Paris When It Sizzles. Noel Coward has a somewhat ambiguous role as a film producer. It seems odd casting, and the humor of it never quite comes off. Tony Curtis, unbilled and strictly supporting, gets the biggest laughs in the picture. Even when his lines force him to repeat a joke that is mild on the first use, Curtis registers. The French veteran Gregoire Aslan has a lengthy but largely wordless role.

Although the movie mocks method actors, in one sad way, William Holden was being pretty method for this film. He was an alcoholic in real life, and his drinking was especially bad when he made this movie.

This was an extremely interesting read! I hated this movie when I first saw it ages ago (it came in a box set of Audrey Hepburn films) but I have to admit that your take on it made me appreciate it a little bit more. ?

The best news here is that Paramount has employed a transfer devoid of filtering and ringing, rare for their earlier HD efforts. This may well be the same transfer struck when they released Paris When It Sizzles on DVD, almost a decade ago. The 1080p video consistently honors the original celluloid with excellent grain reproduction.

For a little historical perspective on the matter, the French couture began in the 1860s, during the reign of Napoleon III, when the designer Charles Frederick Worth moved to Paris from London and dressed Empress Eugenie. It reached its apex in the 1950s, when Christian Dior, Jacques Fath, Cristobal Balenciaga, Coco Chanel, and, later, Hubert de Givenchy ruled supreme as heads of their own houses, and Paris was the center of the fashion universe, from which all dictates pertaining to style emanated. These couturiers, colorful figures all, mixed in the Paris society of the day and understood the lives and needs of the women for whom they were designing. Hubert de Givenchy, the last of them, retired in 1995 and has recently become president of Christie's auction house in Paris, as well as a severe critic of French fashion today, particularly at the house that bears his name. Fashion is no longer a uniquely French institution. Foreigners have moved in on French turf, even into French ateliers. The English lads, as John Galliano and Alexander McQueen are often called, have taken over the reins at Dior and Givenchy. Oscar de la Renta of New York, where he has his own house, designs for Balmain and spends part of the year in Paris. The German Karl Lagerfeld has designed for Chanel for 15 years, while maintaining his own line as well, and the Italian Valentino, who recently sold his business and his services for $300 million to an Italian conglomerate, has opened palatial offices on the Place Vendome, catty-corner to the Ritz, where he gave a splendid dinner for 150 very swell people following his show, which everyone said was his best in years.

"It's a happening," said Paris socialite Sao Schlumberger, who had been a supporter of Galliano's when he had his own house. A chauffeur in gray livery was pulled along by three borzois. Boys danced the tango together. A dignified, dark-skinned maharaja in silver raiment and diamond necklaces walked haughtily through the rooms in the company of exotic women. It didn't matter that the show started an hour late.

At the end, when Galliano came out for his bow between two models, he was in costume and makeup, as if he were another of the bizarre creatures at the Marchesa Casati's ball. He was dressed not as a duke or a prince but as a Cuban dancer with marcelled hair and his pencil-thin mustache. Just then thousands of green and orange paper butterflies fell from the ceiling. He seemed to be telling his adoring audience, "I am not one of you." As if the moment needed explaining, which it didn't, a French lady nearby said in English, "John does not mix in society. Nothing really interests him other than what he creates."

A great part of the overall experience is watching the action in the rooms before the fashion show starts. Each of the gold chairs is marked with the name of an invited guest, and banish any thought of changing place cards. The first row means everything. As the celebs take their seats, the photographers run in and surround them. Get the princess. Get the movie star. Get the Miller sisters. The New York ladies, who are used to being photographed by the fashion press, walk that special walk society women walk when they know they are going to be photographed. They put even movie stars to shame, they do it so well.

Talked with the beautiful Amanda Harlech last night at Karl Lagerfeld's dinner for Liz Tilberis at his hotel particulier. Lagerfeld's show earlier in the day had been a triumph. Everyone was saying, "It was Karl's best show in years." Amanda, who is Lady Harlech and lives in Wales, is Lagerfeld's muse, after having been muse to John Galliano before his ascension at Dior. When Galliano did not move quickly enough to take Harlech with him, Lagerfeld snatched her away. He designs with Amanda in mind. We sat together on a high-backed green damask sofa in Lagerfeld's drawing room, and she talked about the couture in that slightly mystical manner common to those who understand it. She had the same look on her face that I had seen on Anna Wintour's face earlier in the day over coffee in the Bar Vendome, when she described the beauty of the Lagerfeld collection for Chanel. I was mesmerized by Amanda Harlech, whose late father-in-law, David Ormsby Gore, was the British ambassador to Washington during Jack Kennedy's presidency. "If you could have been in the atelier at two this morning, watching them work, for everything to be ready for the show this morning. The only sound you hear is the sound of sewing," she said, miming the sewing in a long, graceful gesture. "They take such pride in their work. During the show they stand back and watch at the top of the stairs, where they can't be seen. If you could see their faces when their dress goes down the stairs."

Lagerfeld was fascinating, albeit a bit intimidating. His dark glasses are of an impenetrable blackness, and he never takes them off. It's hard to connect with someone when there's only one-sided eye contact. His is the house of a cultured man with perfect taste and many interests. I have never been in a residence where there were so many books. They are in every room, stacks of them, piled as high as the furniture. He told me that in his Paris house alone there are 180,000 volumes, and he is able to locate any book at any time. He has a photography studio in his house and has perfected a method of developing film by computer. They say he sleeps only four hours a night.

Once, seven or eight years ago, I sat next to Thierry Mugler on a New York-to-Los Angeles flight. We laughed for five hours. I never saw him again, but when I got to Paris there was a welcoming note from him at the Ritz and an invitation to go backstage before his show.

Went to the Dior atelier on the Avenue Montaigne with Katell le Bourhis, who told me, "These people never see the customer." The dresses are covered with muslin when they are not being worked on or fitted. "It's a tradition. We veil everything. Otherwise someone might steal an idea."

Considering the meta nature of the film, it is not super surprising that this film was not much of a success when it came out, nor has it really garnered much popularity over time. But I think that this film deserves much more attention than it has previously received. It is one of the rare times that Hollywood does its best to not take itself so seriously, and in doing so, there is an unpredictability to the picture that keeps it non-stop entertaining, engaging, and hilarious.

When I needed a nurse for my first real hangover, Paris delivered a bedside manner marked with efficient kindness and just the right dose of grease. Paris was the first place I took my now ex-father-in-law when he visited Fort Worth from Lampasas, because I knew salty food consumed with salt-of-the-Earth people would impress him. It was over breakfast at Paris that I told several friends I was gay. 041b061a72


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