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Some Like It Hot


One of the funniest films of all time, SOME LIKE IT HOT is just as hilarious today as it was when it hit big screens in 1959.

Director Billy Wilder (Sunset Boulevard, Sabrina) teams up with writing partner I.A.L. Diamond (The Apartment) to craft a rare blend of gangster film/broad comedy that never stops.

Down on their luck musicians Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) witness a murder during the infamous 1929 St. Valentine's Massacre at the hands of Chicago mob boss Spats (a perfectly cast George Raft).

With the entire mob after them, they masquerade as women musicians "Josephine" and "Daphne" and hop aboard a train south with an all-girl jazz band that features singer Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe).

The stories behind the scenes of how difficult it was to capture Monroe's performance are legendary, but what's on screen is flawless. She did take nearly 50 takes to get some of her best lines right. Lemmon has NEVER been better than he is here, fully embracing his Daphne persona. Lemmon nails every punch line, every double take and side glance at Curtis in one of the funniest comedic performances EVER.

The boys both have eyes for Monroe, but watching Curtis create a new rich, male character based on Sugar's fantasy man is a blast. Some of the "how can he be both people at once" physical comedy can be recognized in Dustin Hoffman's 80's performance in "Tootsie". Surely Wilder's quick patter and swooping camera can be seen as inspiration for Blake Edwards breaking even newer ground in his 80's hit, "Victor/Victoria".

The pacing is fast and sure, the laughs relentless and the fun characters just keep arriving during Josephine & Daphne's tour south.

The lecherous, often-married and very wealthy Osgood Fielding III only has eyes for Lemmon's Daphne. Joe E. Brown (It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, Around the World in 80 Days) gets some of the biggest laughs of the movie as Osgood, including the perfect final punch line in the film, which was written by Wilder the night before the scene was filmed.

Legendary.

Curtis has said in interviews that he was much less comfortable playing a woman than Lemmon was, contributing to his character being much more feminine and controlled than Lemmon's all out, madcap, physically loose performance as Daphne.

Monroe fought for the film to be filmed in color, but Wilder stuck to his guns to keep it in black and white. This serves the historical setting well and also softened the look of the guys makeup, which appeared almost green in early test footage.

For me, Daphne's announcement of her engagement to Oswald is one of the greatest comedy scenes of all-time. Lemmon is so perfect in every line reading that it just gets better with repeat viewing.

Wilder and his team had to edit in more of the maracas and reaction shots during the engagement announcement after early test screenings in which audiences laughed so much and so long, they missed much of the dialogue.

Voted by the AFI as the greatest comedy of all-time and in the very top of almost every list of film comedies, SOME LIKE IT HOT is as fall over funny today as it was over 60 years ago when it was released.

I think it might be even getting better with time, earning a reliable and appreciative A.



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