Some Like It Hot
July 15th 2007 22:58
Considered 'culturally significant' and one of the funniest American films in history, Some Like It Hot is an outrageous comedy from Billy Wilder.
It was filmed in 1959, when the subject matter would have offended prudish Americans, and was, in fact, disapproved for production. Now, of course, the same story would be used to generate box-office millions by placing a failing comedian in drag.
Back in '59, though, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon dressing up as women to join an all-girl jazz band in order to escape the notice of a Mafia kingpin in nutty Prohibition times... that's sheer genius.
And then, throw in Marilyn Monroe as a sexy, sultry singer for the band, with all the associated fiascos and zany schemes - well, it's bordering on hysterical brilliance.
Luckily for the audience, Some Like It Hot is in black and white, so we don't have to gawk at the horrendous makeup that Lemmon and Curtis have to wear to pass themselves off as frighteningly mannish women. The two actors play it up, though, swinging their hips from side-to-side and slapping frisky men in the elevator.
Even today in 2007, as I watched it at the Chauvel Cinema, the memorable script and dialogue had the audience cracking up in hysterics. It's odd to think that humour from almost 50 years ago would still be laughable.
Wilder is a master of comedy, giving his actors plenty of screentime and going in for the close-ups when he wants Monroe to flutter those long, dark lashes. The action is frenzied at times, and Wilder's visual gags have been replicated countless times since.
What about the girls? Well! Wilder may not have been known as a lurid peeping tom, or a seedy breast-man, like Russ Meyer, but Wilder's film reels are oozing with feminine skin.
Wilder claimed that Marilyn Monroe was a nightmare to work with, forgetting her lines and arriving late on scene, but when the camera's rolling, he's forgotten all about it, showing off her shapely, buxom figure. The movie makes the juxtaposition of Monroe and the two men in drag so ridiculous that it's totally unbelievable. Fortunately, we're not here for reality.
As Roger Ebert says about Monroe:
"...Monroe moves her body higher and lower in the light with teasing precision. It is a striptease in which nudity would have been superfluous. All the time she seems unaware of the effect, singing the song innocently, as if she thinks it's the literal truth. To experience that scene is to understand why no other actor, male or female, has more sexual chemistry with the camera than Monroe."
I say: Yes, definitely one of the best comedies to come out of American studios. Rent it and lap it up.
See it for: Yikes! Marilyn Monroe... we get to see a lot of her, including her outfits, designed by famed Hollywood costumer, Orry-Kelly, which teasingly show off her remarkable cleavage and her shapely back.
Plus, perhaps the most memorable closing lines ever on screen.
*this image is from the Yahoo! site on the movie
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