December 6, 2010


I have been quite the lucky film fan this year. 2010 has been a banner year for me seeing classic films on the big screen. And what better way to cap it all off than with a 35mm print of Billy Wilder’s 1959 comedy classic Some Like It Hot?

Thankfully, this is not one of the films on my “Catch Up Classics” list as I’ve caught this _ comedy a few times now. The first time I was introduced to Sugar, “Daphne” and “Josephine” I was working at a video store. Me and one of the guys I worked with would take it in turns picking and playing movies in store. One day he picked out Some Like It Hot. Sure, watching this on a shitty little TV as I served customers (damnable customers!) probably wasn’t the best way to first experience this madcap tale, but damn if I didn’t enjoy it.

If anyone reading this hasn’t seen it (who are you? Do I know you?), I’ll give you the quick gist: Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis are two struggling musicians in Depression era Chicago. As their continuing poor luck would have it, they happen to witness the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. They’re eyeballed by the gangsters and have to hightail it outta town – and fast! it just so happens they know of a gig leaving for Florida the next day. The catch? It’s an all-girl band. Hi-jinks, love, hot jazz and hilarity ensue as they smuggle themselves aboard.

Jack Lemmon really hams it up as the put upon bass player Jerry/Daphne while Tony Curtis is the fast talking saxophone man with a plan Joe/Josephine/Junior. Tony Curtis (or “Coitus” as he preferred to pronounce it) was indeed an attractive young man and Lemmon carries a certain eager boyishness with him, and they play off each other with aplomb. They give the appearance of being a double act that has worked together for years. And Curtis' bizarre Cary Grant impression as his millionaire disguise is quite a treat.

My goodness. How have I managed to get this far in my blathering without even mentioning the wonderful Marilyn Monroe? She's Sugar - the ukulele player and singer in the band. She is, by her own admission, not very bright and Monroe plays her with a beguiling innocence. She's someone who has been hurt in the past but, somehow, it doesn't stop her from seeing (or hoping for) the best in people. Which helps to explain how she fall for Joe posing as wealthy oil tycoon, Junior while telling Jerry (as Daphne) and Josephine (aka Joe) all about it. And she's Marilyn! She's sultry, beautifully curvy and blessed with a true comedienne's touch. Though there are persistent rumours of difficulty with her on set, none of that really matters when you get to see the end product.

Director Wilder keeps everything humming along; you barely have time to catch your breath before there's the introduction of deluded suitor (and real millionaire) Osgood Fielding III, the Chicago gangsters, engagements, broken hearts, chases, unmaskings and true love. He displays his sure touch in many scenes, with standouts coming at you constantly: whether it's the opening bust, the party in Daphne's train bed, the late night tango or Marilyn biking to the waterfront and Joe. It's a whirligig whirlwind of a comedy with intelligence, charm and is truly laugh out loud funny. 

White Chicks it ain't.

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