Some Like It Hot

posted Aug 29, 2010, 9:13 PM by Jeff Brandt   [ updated Aug 30, 2010, 10:53 PM ]
Wow! After watching a couple lame ducks in a row (Whatever Works and Quantum of Solace), watching Some Like It Hot (1959) was like a breath of fresh air. Makes me wish some more people had nudged me to watch it before.

I was banking on some standard Marilyn Monroe fare -- with a few clever jokes but more glamor than brains -- but director Billy Wilder really knocked this one out of the park. It's definitely right up there with Singin' in the Rain (1952) and Vertigo (1958) as one of the greatest films of the 1950s.

There was really no occasion for watching this film, other than hearing it mentioned during the Billy Wilder Marathon on the Filmspotting podcast a few weeks ago. Just happened to see it at the library, and I thought I'd give it a shot. If you're like me, and you're looking for some witty gags, interesting characters, and a little bit of subversion, you are going to love  it.

But enough gushing about how great it is. I should fill you in on the plot already.

Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis star as Jerry and Joe, two buddies from Capone-era Chicago who make a hardscrabble living playing in speakeasy bands. They've just sweet-talked a woman into borrowing her car when they witness seven mobsters get executed in the parking garage.

As the only living witnesses, they have to leave the city -- and fast! So they dress up in drag for a gig they heard about: a women's traveling band headed to a Florida resort for three weeks. On the train ride, they meet the stunningly beautiful Sugar Kane Kowalczyk (Marilyn Monroe), the band's singer and ukulele player.

Thus the games begin. Jerry becomes Daphne, Joe becomes Josephine, and each tries to get a little extra time with Sugar through various schemes.

It is admittedly troubling that Marilyn Monroe plays the simple-minded blonde bimbo yet again, but I feel that Wilder makes up for the stereotyping with unapologetic gay innuendos. Turns out that Jerry is a little bit more suited in his role as "Daphne" than Joe is comfortable with.

And the last scene . . . well, you'll just have to see it for yourself. It's not too often that a movie's conclusion is as perfect as this one. The final cut comes not a moment too early or too late.


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