Movie Project #5: Some Like It Hot [1959]

Due to the overwhelming success of my initial Movies Project, I decided to do a second round for 2012. This time around I put a greater emphasis on directors I am not familiar with, but I also tried to compile a mix of different genres and eras. This will be an ongoing project with the finish date being sometime this year.

Some Like It Hot [1959]

Some Like It Hot [1959]
Director: Billy Wilder
Genre: Comedy
Starring: Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon
Runtime: 120 minutes

Nobody’s perfect.

In my last project, I watched two Billy Wilder classics: Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard. I loved both and immediately wanted to see more of his work. While compiling this year’s edition, I was positive that I included two more of his films: The Apartment and Some Like It Hot. I watched The Apartment recently and it blew me away. I was all set to give my first 10/10 for a movie in this project but then I realized that I had mistakenly left it out! Somehow it got lost in the shuffle when I downsized the list to 25 and then bumped it back up to 50. Regardless, I made sure my next viewing was another Wilder film.

Some Like It Hot is quite different from The Apartment (or Double Indemnity or Sunset Boulevard, for that matter), as it is a total screwball comedy. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis star as Jerry and Joe, respectively, a couple of Chicago musicians who unwittingly become witnesses to the Saint Valentine’s Day massacre of 1929. Now on the run from the mob, the duo get the wild idea to dress up as women and take a gig with an all-girl band down in Florida. This is where they meet Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe), the lead singer of the band, and both instantly fall in love with her. It’s Joe (now Josephine) who gets the upper hand when Sugar visits him for a late night party, all while Jerry (now Daphne, previously Geraldine) is sleeping in the bunk below.

Upon arriving in Florida, the movie takes an interesting twist as the love subplots start to develop. Joe/Josephine poses as a different man, the alleged heir to Shell Oil, in order to win over Sugar and her love for money. Meanwhile, Jerry/Daphne is dealing with a legitimate millionaire, Osgood Fielding III (Joe E. Brown), who is in love with the Daphne persona. Hijinx ensue, as there are so many different personalities at play, and our leading tandem are trying desperately not to blow their covers.

Jack Lemmon & Tony Curtis [Some Like It Hot - 1959]

In 2000, the American Film Institute dubbed Some Like It Hot to be the greatest American comedy of all time. Obviously this is a huge statement, but it also shows just how much comedies have changed over the years. Wilder’s film relies heavily on double entendres and dry one liners, a far cry from the types of toilet humor we are used to now. Even though cross dressing is a major plot point, the film doesn’t rely too heavily on this for laughs. I was a little worried that the movie was going to be a one-trick pony, but thankfully that isn’t the case. Sex is a central figure as well, but the jokes are brought about in a way that aren’t spelled out for us — a refreshing change, for sure.

This was the first movie I saw with Marilyn Monroe in a major role. I had previously seen her in The Asphalt Jungle, but her small un-credited appearance wasn’t enough for me to understand the fanaticism about her. Now I understand. Monroe, despite being notoriously difficult to work with, just oozes sex appeal as Sugar Kane. Just take a look at her solo performance singing “I Wanna Be Loved by You” as proof:

It’s easy to see why both Jerry and Joe are smitten with her.

It’s also easy to see why Some Like It Hot is held in such high regard, even today. I enjoyed the movie quite a bit, and I am quickly becoming a fan of Jack Lemmon in particular, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is the greatest comedy of all time. I felt the film started to lose its luster once the Chicago gangsters reappeared (even though it was a treat to see George Raft again, as I had previously only seen him in The Glass Key), and it ran a little long for being a screwball comedy. Still, these are minor issues for what is another great title in Wilder’s diverse filmography. And who could ever forget the hilarious closing line?


19 thoughts on “Movie Project #5: Some Like It Hot [1959]

  1. le0pard13 says:

    What a great film this is. This was the motion picuture I fell in love with Marilyn as a kid when I caught it on network television (long, long time ago). Glad to see it’s still gathering fans decades later. Well done, Eric.

  2. maroon5gurl88 says:

    I’m a HUGE Billy Wilder fan and I’m always surprised to see how many of his movies I STILL haven’t seen. Some Like It Hot is a classic that’s never been duplicated. I did it during my Month with Marilyn films on my blog. The Apartment is the one best movies of all time and if you’re looking for another one, one of my blog readers recommended Witness for the Prosecution. I had never heard of it, watched it, and LOVED it. One of the best courtroom dramas out there with a twist I never saw coming. Sad how many people still haven’t seen any of Wilder’s work

    • Eric says:

      Awesome, thanks for the recommendation! I have only seen four Billy Wilder films — seemingly his ‘big four’ — so I am excited to see more of his work. I haven’t been disappointed yet.

  3. Scott Lawlor says:

    Love this film. As you know I only saw this for the first time a few weeks ago. I seriously have a crush on Monroe in this film. OMG she is sexy, and when she talks I just melt. LOL

    I do have a thing about voluptuous women….mmmm Christina….

  4. rtm says:

    I really need to watch Billy Wilder movies. This one, Sunset Boulevard and The Apartment are all in my soon-to-watch list. Great job on your Movie Project posts, Eric!

  5. John says:

    I’m trying to tackle all of the AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Laughs list. I’m up to 75 or so. And from what I’ve seen, it seems like their criteria isn’t “Which movie is the funniest”. It seems to be more “What are the best movies, that are also funny”. There are a lot of movies on the list that are genuinely really good movies, that just happen to have a dose of humor to accompany everything else. Adam’s Rib is a perfect example.

    I’m sure they gave it bonus points for having so many icons converging in one place, too- Wilder, Lemmon, and especially Marilyn.

    • Eric says:

      That’s a great point. From that perspective, the high ranking makes sense, though I still found The Apartment to be funnier (I dig the dark humor more).

      Good luck with your project — 75/100 is impressive!

  6. Max says:

    This is in my top 5 favorite comedies of all-time. It manages to still be a riot today without the gross-out comedy that has been the rave recently.

  7. Dave Enkosky says:

    I’m a huge Wilder fan but I’ve never been as much of a fan of Some Like it Hot as many critics are. I think it’s a pretty funny movie. For what it’s worth, I think One, Two, Three is Wilder’s funniest comedy. Also, yeah, The Apartment is a masterpiece.

    • Eric says:

      I’ll have to check out One, Two, Three. I would put Some Like It Hot a notch below the other three Wilder films I have seen, but yeah, it’s still a very funny movie that holds up well today.

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