Americana Movie Month: "Some Like It Hot" Review

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Two struggling musicians witness the St. Valentine's Day Massacre and fear they will be killed by the mob. Disguised as women, they flee the state with an all-female band, only to have complications set in. Directed by Billy Wilder, this classic screwball comedy film/remake stars Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon & George Raft.
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Americana Movie Month: "Some Like It Hot" Review

-- Rating: Approved
Length: 120 minutes
Release Date: March 29, 1959
Directed by: Billy Wilder
Genre: Comedy

Like a fine wine, some films just get better with time, and this is especially true of "Some Like It Hot." Its combination of fine acting and absurd comedy keep fans entertained even after repeated viewings.

Joe (Tony Curtis, "The Defiant Ones") and Jerry (Jack Lemmon, "The Apartment") are two musicians who suffer a run of bad luck. The two accidentally stumble upon the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, so they need to get out of town quickly to get away from the gangsters. Led by Spats (George Raft, "They Drive by Night"), the gangsters follow them around town until the two men find a way to slip out of town without anyone knowing.

By dressing up as women, Joe and Jerry join an all-girl band. They manage to do a good job of blending in, until Joe falls in love with Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe, "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes"). Though he needs to hide his true identity from someone who might be the love of his life, that doesn't stop him from lusting over her at every turn. From the chase that occurs to Joe's feelings for Sugar Kane and the struggles they face in hiding their identities, "Some Like It Hot" offers laughs at every chance.

The success of "Some Like It Hot" rests heavily on director Billy Wilder's shoulders. Wilder wrote the screenplay for the film, but while making it, he continued adding to the film and working with the natural talents of his lead actors. His hard work turned the film into one of the top comedies of all time.

The film would not have the same level of success if it weren't for the comedic talents of Curtis and Lemmon. Even in full-on drag, Curtis just can't stop lusting over the gorgeous Monroe. When he attempts to relate to her even in woman's clothing, viewers won't stop laughing. Lemmon is equally strong, and he just might be the highlight of the film. Changing his voice to what he thinks a woman sounds like and acting so weak because he thinks that's how women act, he gets laughs almost every time that he appears on-screen.

"Some Like It Hot" marked a change in Monroe's career. After going through some well-publicized issues with the studio and suffering some problems in her personal life, she found it difficult to gain work in Hollywood. The actress viewed "Some Like It Hot" as her return to fortune and fame, but she only appeared in a handful of movies after filming wrapped. While she starred in more than thirty films prior to this one, "Some Like It Hot" is one of her more memorable ones. She oozes sensuality in every scene, and she has the classic look that fans remember. From the way she wiggles across the set to the slight giggle in her voice, she makes it clear that she is the star of the film.

"Some Like It Hot" has some of the best lines in film history. When Monroe looks at the camera and utters the line, "It's me, Sugar," some viewers in the audience might find themselves wondering what she was like off set. Those moments will also lead many to wonder what her career would have looked like had she not died a few years later. "Well, nobody's perfect" is another great line in the film, and the American Film Institute listed that line on its list of top film quotes.

There are so many hilarious scenes in the film that it's hard to pick just one. There's that moment when Curtis' character first spots Monroe and compares her to Jell-O, and there are scenes involving Lemmon's fake relationship with another man. When a millionaire falls in love with Lemmon in drag and offers to marry her, Lemmon has to explain that he's really a man. By the time the scene ends, some viewers will roll with laughter.

The screwball comedy in "Some Like It Hot" led to some comparisons to Marx Brothers films. Lemmon and Curtis are both geniuses when it comes to comedy, and they aren't above taking a fall to gain a laugh. Those comedic scenes mix nicely with the more serious moments involving Raft. As Spats, Raft is the classic mobster. He seldom flashes a smile, and his dark and brooding character will leave viewers hoping that the leads get away in the end.

"Some Like It Hot" became a hit because of Curtis, Lemmon, and Monroe. Viewers today will still appreciate the breathy way that she sings tunes like "I Want to be Loved by You," and the comedy is just as strong today as it was years ago.

Rating 4 out of 5