Breening Thursday #44: “Paris When it Sizzles” from 1964 by Rebekah Brannan


This article was written by Rebekah Brannan as part of the Breening Thursdays series.

Hello, everyone! This is Rebekah Brannan, and, for this week’s breening article, I will be tackling Paris When it Sizzles from 1964. This movie about Richard Benson (William Holden), a drunken screenplay writer, and Gabrielle Simpson (Audrey Hepburn), a beautiful stenographer, who must finish a screenplay in two days is quite a challenge. You see, I must breen not only the film itself, but also the film within the film. With bathtubs, a “prostitute with a heart of gold,” and a wild Bastille day party, Mr. Benson’s movie is quite a task for any self-regulator. This film is very entertaining and funny, as well as giving a fascinating look at the process of screenplay-writing. With some changes to the dialogue, costume, and the plot of Mr. Benson’s film, this film could be a wonderful, clever, enjoyable film for the entire family. Now, the lights dim, the theater hushes, and the screen comes to life! Get ready for a, like, groovy picture, because here comes Paris When it Sizzles!

  1. Paris title cardThe first problem with this film is the title. Although it may refer to the Bastille Day fireworks on the surface, it sounds rather racy. Instead, it should be named after Richard Benson’s movie, The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower.
  2. Paris bikinisAt the beginning of the film, Alexander Meyerheim, is seen on the Riviera, surrounded by three women in bikinis. One of them is lying on her stomach with Image result for paris when it sizzles the back of her bikini undone, and Meyerheim is playing tic-tac-toe on her bare back. The other is his secretary, and the third does not play into the scenario at all. The random women lying around seem suggestive. Only the secretary should be there, and, if she must wear a bathing suit, it should be one-piece and fully covering.
  3. In this scene, Meyerheim is dictating a telegram to the home office, in which he Paris trenchessays, “Gentleman, while you sit back safely in your air-conditioned offices, we here… in the trenches are progressing brilliantly.” The italicized line, along with its delivery and the accompanying suggestive glance at the secretary, is unacceptable and must be changed. Instead, he should sarcastically say something like, “We here on the front lines,” with no pause and no glance at the secretary.
  4. When Meyerheim mentions Richard Benson, the tic-tac-toe girl pops up and incredulously says, “Richard Benson?” Meyerheim replies, “You know him, my little Paris rantingangel?” She then begins ranting about Richard in Greek. The only part of her line that is understandable to anyone other than a fluent Greek-speaker is the ending, when she mentions a vodka bottle, Madrid, and bullfights, and emphatically states, “I hate him! Richard Benson, phooey!” Meyerheim replies, “It seems there are certain facets of him that you know even better than I do. I cannot imagine when he finds time to write.” Since the tic-tac-toe girl has been eliminated, the dialogue should be said by the secretary. Also, if the dialogue is to be said in Italian, it must be ensured that it is not inappropriate, so that Greek-speakers won’t hear anything untoward. Paris writingHowever, since the secretary is to say the dialogue, it could be said in English. Her discourse should merely state that they were going together, and he told her he loved her, but then deserted her to attend the bullfights in Madrid, leaving her with a broken heart. Meyerheim’s first line should be shortened to, “You know him?” His second line should be changed to something like, “I tell you, with his constant globe-trotting, I cannot imagine when he finds time to write.”
  5. In the scene when Richard and Miss Simpson first meet, he is concerned she might object to her room adjoining his. However, she says it’s alright, saying, “I once Paris bubble bathworked for an American novelist who would only write in the bathtub.” Richard is astounded by this, and questions if she did say in a bathtub. She confirms that its true, saying, “The second day I got him a bottle of bubble bath, and from then on we got on swimmingly.” All of this dialogue is unacceptable and must be eliminated. Instead, she should say the novelist insisted on working in some other odd place, such as a closet.
  6. Paris droolingLater, Richard is excitingly narrating the course of his movie for Miss Simpson. When he comes to the romantic climax, he says, “The audience drools with sublimated sexual pleasure.” This line is completely unacceptable and must be eliminated.
  7. Paris woman in blackWhen Richard begins dictating his film, he starts with a mysterious woman in black on the Eiffel Tower. When the camera closes up on this woman, her dress is too revealing. It must be fully covering.
  8. paris howAfter the woman in black, he struggles to think of what we see next, finally saying, “How the – do I know what we see?” The dash represents a swear word spoken by Richard. This word must be eliminated. Instead, he should just say, “How do I know what we see?”
  9. Paris depravityLater in the scene, Miss Simpson begins telling Richard why she came to Paris. She says that she came there to “live.” She then explains further by saying she spent six months making “a comprehensive study of depravity.” She never got to bed before eight o’clock in the morning, but she didn’t drink then, so it was difficultImage result for paris when it sizzles smoking “to get totally into the spirit of the thing.” She found that depravity can be boring if you don’t drink or smoke. This entire discourse on depravity is unacceptable and must be changed. Instead, after stating that she came to Paris to “live,” she should tell him of how she spent the first six months just living a life of pleasure. She frittered away the days going to little cafes, dancing, rowing on the Seine, and so forth. Then, she could end with her current line, “But a person does have to try to grow.”
  10. Image result for paris when it sizzles depravityLater in the conversation, Miss Simpson is detailing her plans for Bastille Day. She ends her list of the days activities by saying, “And, you know, live!” This is suggestive and must be removed. Instead, she should end with supper and champagne.
  11. Paris upstairsLater, Richard suddenly carries the typewriter upstairs and places it by his bed, where they write the next part of the screenplay. It is suggestive for them to be on a bed. Instead, they should be in the sitting room outside his bedroom, sitting on the couch.
  12. As they work on the script, Richard has his leading man ask the leading lady out to Paris motellunch. However, Miss Simpson doesn’t think a nice girl would accept, since they just met. Richard objects, saying, “Miss Simpson, he’s not asking her to spend a weekend with him at a motel in Asberry Park, New Jersey. He’s inviting her to lunch!” The italicized part of the line is unacceptable and must be removed. Instead, he should say something like, “For goodness sake, Miss Simpson, he’s just inviting her to lunch!” He will then continue onto the next part of the line.
  13. Later on, Richard and Miss Simpson have just had a supper which involved quite a bit of alcohol. Feeling a bit tipsy, Miss Simpson lies down on the couch, and Richard Paris drunksits on the floor below her, leaning his head against her torso. This position is far too familiar for two people who just met. She should merely slouch on the sofa in a sitting position, while he sits on the floor and leans his head against the sofa. Also, no doubt because of the alcohol, Miss Simpson has removed her coat by this point. As she lounges on the couch, her white blouse pulls up to reveal her midriff. This is inappropriate. If she were in a sitting position, this problem would be avoided, as well.
  14. In her intoxicated state, Miss Simpson begins to narrate a wild next section of the Paris vampiremovies which includes vampires and horse races. During this wild sequence, she makes reference to her previous discussion of depravity, saying of the leading lady, Gabi, “Not for nothing has she made a comprehensive study of depravity!” This must be eliminated.
  15. Paris planesAt the end of her mad section of the film, Gabi and the leading man, Rick are engaged in a plane battle high in the air. At the end of this battle, Gabi shoots down Rick. He is shown in his plane with blood coming out of his mouth. This is unduly violent and must be removed.
  16. Paris hairFinally, Richard tells Miss Simpson to go to bed. A few moments later, she is shown from the back brushing out her hair. At first glance, it looks as though she isn’t wearing a thing. We eventually see that she does have a towel wrapped around her. However, the suggestion that she is undressed is inappropriate. She should be wearing a robe of some kind.Paris sleeping
  17. Later, Miss Simpson is shown from above getting into bed and then smiling at the sound of Richard typing. Although the moment is sweet, the angle from which it is shot is risqué. It should be filmed normally from the side.
  18. Paris nightgownThe next morning, the first thing we see is Miss Simpson’s nightgown lying crumpled on the bed. The camera then pans up to show her wearing a lovely white dress. However, for a moment we wonder what she is wearing. The crumpled nightgown is suggestive and should be removed. Instead, the first shot that morning should be of her, fully dressed and ready for work.
  19. Later, amidst the drama of Richard’s screenplay, it is revealed that Gabi is actually a spy for the police, attempting to lead mastermind criminal Rick into a trap. As Rick’sParis streets nemesis, Inspector Gilette, and his assistant, Philippe, discuss their plot, Philippe asks, “But can she be trusted? A creature of the streets with a police record as long as your arm.” The italicized part of the line is unacceptable and must be removed. Instead, Philippe should say something like, “But can she be trusted? She, a criminal with a police record as long as your arm?” This way of referring to her is repeated several times. It must be changed thus each time.
  20. Later in the film, as Rick carries out part of his master plan at a movie studio, he Paris bedroomrealizes that Gabi is a spy. He chases her onto a soundstage, until he finally catches her on the set of a Napoleon the Third-style bedroom complete with a large marble bathtub and rippling fountains. This is inappropriate. Instead, it could be a Napoleon the Third-style sitting room with a large couch in the center and a large marble fountain at the front. The accompanying line about every Richard Benson movie having a bathtub will be removed, as well.
  21. Paris pwiththeoofgLater, Richard tells Miss Simpson, “Our Gabi happens to be that most reliable, steadfast, and you cannot possibly miss with no matter how badly you write it character in all popular literature, the prostitute with a heart of gold.” Blatant discussion of prostitution is forbidden under the Code, so this characterization of Gabi must be changed. Instead, she should merelyParis Gabi be referred to as a criminal and an ex-convict, with her crime never being explicitly stated. It may be delicately implied that she is a woman of the oldest profession but it must not be stated plainly. Throughout this scene in particular, her manner should not be so hard or suggestive. She should act Image result for barbara stanwyck remember the nightsomething like Barbara Stanwyck in “Remember the Night.” His line should be changed to something like, “Our Gabi happens to be that most reliable, steadfast, and you cannot possibly miss with no matter how badly you write it character in all popular literature, the lady criminal.”Paris undressing
  22. As the scene on the bedroom set progresses, Gabi takes off her shoes, stockings, and hat, and undoes her hair. This is suggestive and must be removed. She may take off her shoes, since they’re wet from when she splashed through a pond on another set, and perhaps her hat, but that is all.
  23. Later in the scene, when Gabi is telling Rick how she became a spy for the police, Paris squirmingshe reveals that Gilette granted her parole just for this mission, saying he planned for her to be, “The luscious and irresistible bait squirming on the end of the hook he has prepared.” This line is suggestive and must be changed. Instead, she should say something like, “To be the bait that will finally snare you in his trap.”
  24. Paris anythingLater, Rick asks Gabi, “What exactly do you have to do to extract this plan?” She suggestively replies, “Anything.” Rick questioningly repeats, “Anything?” Gabi replies, “Anything! It’s not so hard. I, too, in my own way, of course, am a highly-paid professional. Well, not so Paris professionalhighly-paid as you, perhaps, but still… a professional. We’re two of a kind, Rick, you and I. There’s no reason for us to be enemies. We could, perhaps be… friends.” She then leans toward him, and he repeats, “Perhaps.” They then begin kissing passionately and roll down the bed, still kissing, to Richard’s racy narration, and then he “slowly and Image result for paris when it sizzles prostituelingeringly” dissolves. This entire exchange and the scene’s conclusion are completely unacceptable and must be changed. Instead, Richard should ask, “So, what do you plan to do, now that I’ve found you out?” Gabi could then reply, “I don’t know? I suppose my mission is hopeless now. But I’m not a police spy! We’re two of a kind, Rick, you and I. We needn’t be enemies. We can be allies, and together we’ll defeat Gilette!” They can then romantically but tastefully kiss.
  25. Paris censorsAfter Richard’s suggestive dissolve, it cuts back to Richard and Miss Simpson discussing the rather racy scene. She expresses concern that the “censors” may object, but he convinces her that, if she and the “censors” think it’s suggestive, they have dirty minds. He then says, “I don’t know what Image result for paris when it sizzles prostitueyou and the censors think they’re doing on that bed, but I take the position that they’re… playing parcheesi.” He then returns to the scene, showing them sitting on the bed playing parcheesi. This entire exchange is obviously a jab at the PCA and must be removed. With the changes to the scene, there needn’t be a dissolve at all. After they kiss, Rick will say, somewhat like he does in the existing scene, “Now, it’s getting near eight o’clock, and we must be off.” The rest of their exchange about the costume party at the Eiffel Tower is alright.
  26. Image result for paris when it sizzles prostitueSince the bathtub has been removed, Gabi will not be taking a bath when Rick returns with their costumes in the next scene. Instead, she could be sitting on the couch where he left her or fixing her hair and lipstick. Any dialogue relating to the bathtub will naturally be removed.
  27. Image result for paris when it sizzles bathtubWhen Rick asks Gabi how long it will take her to get into the costume and out to the car, she makes a swirling motion with her hands and says, “Absolutely no time at all.” This line and its manner of delivery seems suggestive. Instead, he should merely say something like, “Now, you get into the costume and meet me at the car in five minutes.”
  28. Paris foreverAs Rick and Gabi drive to the Eiffel Tower, he asks her if he can trust her. She passionately replies, “How can you ask, Rick? After our parcheesi game this afternoon, I am yours forever, and ever, and ever!” This line is a reference to the Paris kissdeleted parcheesi game and must be removed.
  29. Shortly after this, Rick and Gabi kiss passionately. Their kiss is very lustful and must be toned down.
  30. Later in the scene, Rick begins to tell Gabi his secret plan, Paris trafficbut she suggestively says, “You can tell me the plan in a minute, Rick. It’s a long drive to the Eiffel Tower, and the traffic is heavy.” The italicized part of the line is suggestive and must be removed. Instead, she should just say, “You can tell me the plan in a minute, Rick.” Then, they will tastefully kiss again.
  31. Image result for paris when it sizzles kissWhen it fades back to Richard and Miss Simpson, they are also kissing. He kisses her for a very long time in the chair, then Image result for paris when it sizzles kissshe stands, and they turn around each other, and finally they walk all the way across the room, until she finally collapses onto the couch. All this, mind you, takes place during one kiss! This kiss is absolutely unacceptable and must be shortened. They may kiss while she is seated in the chair, but not for so long, then they could walk across the room in a romantic haze.
  32. Image result for paris when it sizzles kissWhen Richard and Miss Simpson reach the couch, he sits down next to her and they resume passionate kissing. This entire kissing scene is lustful and excessive. It must be toned and shortened considerably.
  33. Paris towerWhen he finally returns to the film, Richard says, “Rick and Gabi have been driving, and driving, and driving….” Miss Simpson interjects, “Through all that marvelous traffic.” This line is a reference to the previous line about traffic and must be removed.
  34. Paris overdubbedAs Richard’s dictating, you hear Miss Simpson say, “Richard, how can I type if you’re going to….” “Alright, alright,” Richard says. A few moments later, he says, “Miss Simpson, how can I dictate if you’re going to….” This line of dialogue is unacceptable and must be removed, along with any groaning or kissing sound effects.Paris masquerade
  35. When Rick and Gabi arrive at the costume party at the Eiffel Tower, many of the costumes are unacceptable. It must be ensured that all the guests, particularly the women, are properly dressed.
  36. Later, we get the first look at the party’s host, the Paris legsproducer of the film Rick has stolen from the movie studio. A young woman in striped pants is standing on top of the table with her legs apart, gyrating her hips, and the producer is viewed through her legs. She is unacceptable and must be removed from the shot.Paris harem
  37. The producer is also surrounded by a harem of attractive young women who consistently kiss and embrace him. The harem aspect is unacceptable and must be removed.
  38. Paris professional 2When Rick intentionally leaves Gabi beside Gilette for a moment, she ensures the policeman that she has the plan. She says, “While not exactly highly-paid, I’m, at least, a professional.” This line is still unacceptable and must be removed.
  39. Paris cheeksWhen Rick tells the producer that he has every available copy of his latest film, “The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower,” and will destroy them unless he gives him the key to his safe deposit box in his bank in Casablanca. The producer says to him, “My dear boy, I haven’t the faintest idea who you are, but you are beautiful!” He Paris beautifulemphatically grabs him and kisses him on both cheeks. “Absolutely beautiful!” he adds, laughing. “And, not only that, you’ve saved my life!” This is unacceptable and must be changed. Instead, he should say something like, “My boy, I haven’t the faintest idea who you are, but you have absolutely saved my life!”
  40. The producer tells Rick that the film is ghastly, and that he planned this party to be Paris darlinga swan song. At the end of the party, when the fireworks were going, he intended to throw himself from the top of the Eiffel Tower. However, he tells Rick that, if he promises to destroy the film, he will not only give him the key to his safe deposit box in Casablanca, but he will split the insurance with him, sixty-forty. Rick dryly replies, “Fifty-fifty.” The producer begins laughing again and Paris partnersays, “Oh, my darling! My darling boy! If ever you should consider going into the motion picture business, do not hesitate to call me. I’ve been searching for a partner like you all my life. We understand each other perfectly.” This line is also largely unacceptable and must be changed. Instead, he could say, in a sarcastic but almost fatherly tone, “Oh, my, you are a clever one, aren’t you? I like your nerve, my boy. If you ever consider going into the motion picture business, do not hesitate to call me. I could use a bright young man like you.”
  41. Paris faceAfter this, the producer once again begins laughing and says, “You’re so beautiful! The rugged but curiously sensitive face. It’s so beautiful!” He then walks away laughing wildly. This is unacceptable and must be deleted.
  42. Paris pansyJust as a general note, the producer’s manner in this scene should be fatherly and perhaps a bit sarcastic. He must not be so familiar, and there must be no hint of a pansy flavor in his interaction with Rick.Paris twist
  43. In this scene, when Gabi is dancing with Gilette, they start out ballroom dancing. However, they soon begin doing the twist. This dance is unacceptable, and it should be replaced with the swing.
  44. Image result for paris when it sizzles tony curtisLater, when Rick is making his escape under the guise of Gilette, the frustrated assistant, Philippe, tries in vain to remind him that his name is not Maurice. Rick responds, “I keep forgetting. “My God, you are a dull character.” The italicized expression is unacceptable and must be replaced with something like my word or my goodness.
  45. Later, as Rick and Gabi are running for the plane, Philippe begins shooting at Rick, Paris shotsemphatically saying, “Philippe.” He ends up shooting Rick six times. The Code states that bullets should not be pumped into the body. Therefore, this amount of shots is unacceptable. He must not shoot him any more than three times.
  46. Later, when Miss Simpson is trying to convince Richard Image result for paris when it sizzles william holdento give his film a happy ending. They begin metaphorically speaking about Richard under the guise of discussing the character. Rick darkly says, “Uh-uh. It’s too late. He’s forty-three years old… will be this October. Been married twice – both times a disaster – and there’ve been too many years of two much dough, too much bad writing, and too much whiskey.” Since a romance is developing between Richard and Miss Simpson, and they end up together, this mention of two failed marriage is unacceptable. This part of the line should be deleted.
  47. Image result for paris when it sizzles william holdenWhen Richard says he has nothing left inside to give, Gabi insists that he does. She tells him that she loves the script, but he responds, “No you don’t. It’s lousy.” The italicized word is a forbidden expression and must be replaced with an acceptable word like crummy or rotten.
  48. Later, Richard feels guilty for sweeping Miss Simpson off Image result for paris when it sizzles william holdenher feet, and he begins packing her bag for her, determined to send her away before he does her any further harm. As he is trying to convince her this is the best thing for her, he emphatically says, “I do not give one – about anything!” The dash represents a swear word, and it must be changed. Instead, he should say something like, “I couldn’t care less about anything!”
  49. Paris womenLater, when Richard goes looking for Gabi in the streets of Paris, he winds up at a little café, where crowds of people are dancing in the streets. Amongst the revelry, there is a brief shot of two women dancing together. This is unacceptable and must be removed.
  50. Paris sayLater, when Richard finds Miss Simpson, he determinedly sets her straight on a few points, including that the screenplay they wrote is terrible. He says, “I hold here in my hand three hundred some-odd pages of contrived, utterly preposterous, totally unmotivated… oh, if you could only say it in pictures!” This reference to a swear word is unacceptable and must be changed. Instead, he should actually say an acceptable word such as trash.
  51. Paris ice creamShortly after this, Richard punches Miss Simpson’s date, Philippe, starting a fight. During the fight, a man carrying two ice cream cones gets bumped, sending the ice cream flying. One of the scoops falls down a woman’s neckline, Paris final kissand she laughs as she jiggles it down the bodice of her dress. This is vulgar and must be eliminated.
  52. The film ends with a shot of Richard and Miss Simpson kissing. The kiss goes on much too long. It should fade out sooner.

Paris title

This concludes my breening of Paris When it Sizzles. It is interesting to note that this film is really a commentary on the failing Shurlock-era PCA. Richard and Miss Simpson’s exchange about the bedroom scene and any possible objections from “the censors,” and his line about a word you can’t say in pictures are quite clearly a slap in the face to the PCA. Richard is a caricature of the rascally filmmaker trying to see what he can pull off, and, if challenged, accusing the self-regulators of having dirty minds. In a way, it is an important message showing what ridiculous and utterly foolish films would be made without the guidance of good Code-enforcing. In short, as Richard says of his own movie, this film is “an action, suspense, romantic melodrama, with lots of comedy, of course, and, deep down underneath, a substrata of social comment.”

Image result for paris when it sizzles ending

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