Monday, December 31, 2012

Some Like It Hot (1959)



“Will you look at that! Look how she moves! It's like Jell-O on springs. Must have some sort of built-in motor or something. I tell you, it's a whole different sex!” 

            The first I ever heard of Some Like It Hot I was young and I saw it as a high school play. To this day I can remember sitting in the high school auditorium and being a little overwhelmed because I was in a high school seeing older cool kids put on a play. Flash forward several years later to when, as a classic film buff, I finally see the film version of Some Like It Hot. I cannot remember if I had bought the DVD or saw it on TV first but I do know I have had the DVD for years. Some Like It Hot is a flawless comedy. The story and the acting are truly funny from beginning to end.
            Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) are struggling musicians in 1929. They have a job at a speakeasy that is disguised as a funeral parlor. The club is owned by a well known gangster named Spats Colombo (George Raft). Joe and Jerry have no money whatsoever. They keep borrowing money from the girl in the show at the club, they are two months behind their rent, and owe a lot of money to the butcher. One night the club is raided by the police. Joe and Jerry manage to avoid being arrested. Joe comes up with the idea to pawn their jackets to get money to bed on a horse race. Joe, naturally, loses all the money. They go searching for a job at every talent agency they can think of. The only job available for a saxophone and a bass player is for a traveling women’s orchestra headed down to Florida called Sweet Sue and Her Society Syncopators.
              Their luck depending on how you see it changes either for good or for worse. Joe has managed to borrow a car from a secretary he has been seeing in one of the talent agencies. The car is in a garage where Spats just so happens to be as well. Spats and his men have found out that another gangster named Toothpick Charlie was the one who ratted their club out to the police. He rounds up Charlie and some of his men and shoots them (a la the St. Valentine’s Day massacre). Joe and Jerry took cover by the side of the car but are given away when the gas tank is full and the pump is pushed out. They manage to get away unharmed but now they have run out of town if they want to keep their lives. As Joe sees it the only way out is for them to head down to Florida.
            The next scene is Joe and Jerry dressed as women. Jerry is panicking because the clothes are bothering and he keeps tripping on his heels. Joe is calm and just goes with it. Of course they had to change their names along with their appearances- Joe goes by Josephine and Jerry was supposed to go by Geraldine but at the last minute changed his name to Daphne.
            On the train they are introduced to lead singer Sugar Kane Kowalczyk (Marilyn Monroe). Both Jerry and Joe’s jaws drop when they get their first look at Sugar. Joe is quickest to react and gets some alone time with Sugar in the bathroom, not as a man but as Josephine. Sugar tells Joe that she has not had the best luck with men. Her last two boyfriends had been saxophone players and when they play a certain song she falls apart at their feet. She also mentions a few things about men with glasses and yachts.
            When the band arrives in Florida, the hilarity of the film begins. Daphne is hit on literally the moment she/he walks through the door by a man named Osgood Fielding (Joe E. Brown). Joe has stolen the band manager’s clothing and glasses and pretends to be an heir to Shell Oil so he can get some time with Sugar.
            Unfortunately the boys have not gotten far enough away from Spats and his gang. Spats arrives in town for a meeting of gangsters and they are all staying at the same hotel the band is at!
            Every single actor is this film was perfectly cast. I am not fan of either Jack Lemmon or Tony Curtis but they are fabulous as Joe/Josephine and Jerry/Daphne. Lemmon steals the film. He is constantly talking a mile a minute and always worrying until he gets on the train with all the women. His laugh cracks me up it is so silly and giggly. Curtis looked awesome in drag. I love the way he carried himself as if he was a pro (he was way better than I ever could be in heels and a dress) and even had a face of a masculine woman. He  does a spot on impression of Cary Grant that if you were not looking you would swear Grant was on the screen. This was the first time I ever saw Marilyn Monroe in a film. At first I was not thrilled with her at all she drove me up a wall with her voice and she is not the greatest actress. I have since seen several of her films and I have come to like her somewhat. Joe E. Brown steals the film along with Jack Lemmon. Their scenes are so hilarious because his character constantly chases Daphne and then Lemmon almost forgetting he is a boy gets engaged to Osgood! George Raft looked good as Spats. He was older but I think he was more handsome older than when he was younger (I find Raft to be oddly handsome). Since had played several variations of gangsters in the 1930s Raft was great as Spats.
            The last time I watched Some Like It Hot was a few years ago. At the time I was just getting into classic films so I did not really appreciate the story or the acting or the direction. Billy Wilder to me was just the name of the director of the film. I have seen several of Wilder’s films and appreciate his talent so much. It was nice to go back and watch this film with appreciation for Wilder’s storytelling and direction. His humor is dark and dry and quick. Wilder to me was a man ahead of his time with his screenplays and direction. I could not believe how much he was able to get away with in the film as far as the story and the content.
            Some Like It Hot is flawless in every way. Marilyn Monroe could be seen as a flaw but she is not once the film gets going because of all the other characters and actors around her. I think Sugar is a character all women can relate, we are all looking for Mr. Right particularly one who is rich, good looking, and smart. There is a scene for everyone to laugh at with its smart dialogue and sassy characters. Some Like It Hot is a film that should not be overlooked by anyone.