Movies about writers: Paris when it sizzles
A few days ago I watched the movie “Paris when it sizzles” starring William Holden and Audrey Hepburn. Amazing as it may seem, I cannot recall ever seeing this well known movie before. Why – I cannot explain. If I have seen it, it must have been a long time ago because it was like coming to a movie for the first time.
What a romp.
I haven’t laughed at a movie as much since first seeing “The Gods Must be Crazy.” (I still laugh every time I see that movie and its sequel.) The makers of this movie must have had a ball making it; how the actors kept straight faces using all those cliches that screen writers and directors love so much. Just about every type of movie gets the treatment; from horror through to romance and everything in between. The improbable plot is a tour de farce of moviedom.
William Holden plays the part of a screenwriter. He has had months to write the script of a new movie but has frittered away both his time and the advance he was paid. The script is due in two days. So, in desperation, he employs a secretary (and wannabe writer) played by Audrey Hepburn to help type the manuscript.
Between them they concoct a series of preposterously unlikely plots. As the film cuts to each scene they think up, the pace increases until they are finally satisfied with the movie. It is interesting that the act of creating a story is shown vividly in this movie – more so than any other I can remember.
At the very beginning Holden paces around the room laying out sheet after sheet of paper, each sheet representing another scene, another twist in the story, another problem to be solved. Trouble is – he has absolutely nothing written or drawn on any of the sheets of paper. This storyboard technique is well used in movie production and is increasingly employed by writers.
In this method, the writer adds minimal text or draws quick sketches on each sheet, each piece of paper representing a scene, or chapter or other section of the story. In this way the writer can see a visual representation of the story line, possible problem areas and places where the plot deviates unnecessarily. It is a very valuable technique to use when helping children to write, and is also employed by illustrators of children’s picture books. These days, many authors use sticky labels instead of sheets of paper, rearranging them as they sort out their thoughts and plot ideas.