The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has just drawn to a close here and this was a very light year for me. Even though I was volunteering, I didn’t get to see very many films – in fact, I only saw one. But my watchlist grew each and every day thanks to recommendations from fellow film lovers. One of the films I really regret not seeing was a documentary, Love, Marilyn, an homage to blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe told though famous actors reading her personal and private letters aloud. It got me thinking about Marilyn and I just had to revive this review I wrote some time ago.
I can’t even really remember the first time I saw this movie, but it never really fit into the studio system as I came to know it after four years of film studies. I’m sure I was young – it was one of the first DVDs my family owned. It was so hilarious and on a different level than slapstick of the early era. It’s part musical, part romance, part buddy film, and all comedy. Even my friends who are reluctant with classic films love this one, it’s definitely a crowd pleaser.
Some Like It Hot (1959)
Two jazz musicians, Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon), witness the famous Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago one night at a club. This forces them to go into hiding, unable to find any work. The only job for musicians happens to be an all-girl band which is traveling to Miami, so they decide to dress in drag to get the gig. Being women, of course, is easier said than done. Joe, who becomes “Josephine”, falls in love with the band’s lead singer, Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe). Meanwhile, Jerry, who becomes “Daphne”, catches the eye of a rich older man, Osgood Fielding III (Joe E. Brown). They get caught up in their lies and their attempts to untangle their messy web, and try to not get caught by the mobsters they fled from, lead to a hilarious series of events.
Why You Should Watch:
I am a huge fan of Billy Wilder movies. I wrote about Sunset Blvd. (1950) and Sabrina (1954), two of his best nearly a year ago as one of my first entries. Others that I hope to get to in the coming months include Double Indemnity (1944), which I’ve mentioned a little in the past. Some Like It Hot is written and directed by him and his keen sense of comedy is in full force. This film was released in the height of Marilyn Monroe fever and, while it may appear to be a vehicle for her to the untrained eye, Curtis and Lemmon give outstanding performances that nearly eclipse her own.
Modern audiences remember Jack Lemmon from the Grumpy Old Men series, and I did too when I first saw the film. But Some Like It Hot was one film in a series of Wilder-Lemmon collaborations that continued in the 1950s to the 1980s, including The Apartment (1960) and several others if you’re willing to Google it.
This was one of the first films where cross-dressing became a major part of the film, not just a minutes-long scene tossed in for comedic effect. The sexuality of Joe and Jerry is indisputably heterosexual, but what started out as a joke became groundbreaking for filmmakers and almost certainly gave way to other films about cross-dressing and gay culture, like La Cage Aux Folles (1978) and many subsequent modern films.
The award count isn’t too shabby either, it won three Golden Globes: Best Picture (Comedy), Best Actor (Comedy) for Jack Lemmon, and Best Actress (Comedy) for Marilyn Monroe. It also won an Oscar for Best Costume Design (Black and White). Billy Wilder was nominated for many directing awards for this film but only won the Directors Guild of America (DGA) Award. It was even nominated for a Grammy for its original soundtrack.
Scenes to Look Forward To:
It’s hard to pin point exact scenes because the whole film is so cohesive. The repartee between characters, especially Joe and Jerry, makes every scene they’re in hilarious and a real joy to watch.
Some of my favorites are when “Josephine” and “Daphne” first get on the train to Miami and are swept up in a sea of women.
Can’t forget Sugar’s sultry performance of “I Wanna Be Loved By You”, one of Monroe’s most iconic numbers.
I love Tony Curtis’s attempt at a Cary Grant impression when he decides to seduce Sugar and pretend to be the heir to the Shell Oil fortune. Even Jerry makes fun of it, saying “What are you trying to do to that poor girl, putting on a millionaire act? And, where did you get that phony accent? Nobody ‘talks loike thet’!”
And I’m incredibly partial to all of the scenes with Osgood and “Daphne”, including the tango and that last boat trip into the sunset. You’ll know exactly what I mean when you see it.
So, I’m a little bit rusty, but I can’t wait to get back into the swing of things and start writing a lot more frequently. I know you’ll love this one! Happy watching!