This French-made Yank-backed spectacle traces the uprising in Paris leading to the oncoming Allies changing their plans to invade the city rather than bypass it, as intended. Underlying dilemma faces the German commander, General Von Choltitz, who has been ordered to destroy Paris, if necessary or if it could not be held. The title is from Hitler’s maniacal telephone demands to know if Paris was burning.
It is built on the premature uprising within the French resistance groups, and then the tensions as Paris is undermined with explosives and Von Choltitz hesitates as he realizes that Hitler is mad and that destruction of Paris will not help the German cause or the now hopeless Nazi war effort.
Gert Frobe has the pivotal part as Von Choltitz who is a career soldier and not above destroying Paris if a necessity. He plays it with proper despair and does not overdo the sentimental aspect of the man.
The street fighting is done with fervor and dynamism and little cameos gives an ironic, tender, dramatic, pathetic feel to the overall happening.
1966: Nominations: Best B&W Cinematography, B&W Art Direction