Hollywood producer Alexander Meyerheimer has hired drunken writer Richard Benson to write his latest movie. Benson has been holed up in a Paris apartment supposedly working on the script for months, but instead has spent the time living it up. Benson now has just two days to the deadline and thus hires a temporary secretary, Gabrielle Simpson, to help him complete it in time. Written by
Col Needham <email@example.com>
This movie isn't everyone's cup of tea. Hepburn called it her least favorite film. Audiences shunned it. At the time of writing, IMDb gives it a measly 6.0 rating. Nevertheless, it is one of my all-time favorite movies.
The problem with this film is that it isn't what everyone seems to be expecting it to be: a mindless romantic comedy. Quite on the contrary: this is a work that I can only compare with "Adaptation". It is a story about how stories actually get written: non-linearly, spasmodically, through much self-doubt and simultaneously excessive (narcissistic, really) introspection. (Although, to be fair, in Hollywood the practice has mostly been to call in a whole bunch of writers to fix up the messes left by writers of earlier drafts, so this is least true of how Hollywood movie scripts get written, but it is true just about everywhere else.) Like "Adaptation", this is a movie that takes the plunge into the mind of the writer as he creates a miniature, constantly shifting and bubbling world for us to visit, only to find a second world inside that first, and probably more where that came from. I don't think that you can appreciate it without having written something yourself, but if you have, then you know the feeling: life mimicking art, mimicking life, mimicking art. Personally, for me, the greatest cameo in this movie isn't the appearance of Tony Curtis or Frank Sinatra, but the fact that in mid-shooting William Holden had to be checked into a rehab clinic. How's that for life and art? Again, like in "Adaptation", the story makes no sense, and, in fact, cannot make any sense. Its what the movie is about. To let us watch and keep our sanity, humor is used abundantly. It is well written wit and quite funny, but it isn't what this movie is about, and taking it to be what the movie is about is perhaps what led to its being so underrated.
"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" says the Wizard of Oz, and as far as box office success goes, he's right. Audiences don't like it when the magician shows how the trick is performed. This movie is a prime example. Another is Schwarzenegger's "Last Action Hero". If you like romantic comedies, you should probably avoid this movie. If you want to see a smart film about the madness of writing, this is a soft introduction to the topic.
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