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Some Like It Hot (1959)

Classics and Comedy movie directed by Billy Wilder

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Sizzling Hilarity

  • Jul 16, 2003
This film is automatically on any list of greatest comedies and is, in fact, ranked #14 among the American Film Institute's of "America's Greatest Movies," period. Although nominated for seven Academy Awards, it received only one (Orry-Kelly deservedly for Best Costume Design) which I think is ridiculous. This may well be Wilder's greatest achievement. It has lost nothing since first released in 1959. The basic situation is that two struggling musicians, Joe (Curtis) and Jerry (Lemon) inadvertently witness gangland murders reminiscent of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre and flee the bloody scene, fearing for their own lives. Desperate, they disguise themselves as women (Josephine and Daphne) and join Sweet Sue's All-Girl Orchestra. Joe/Josephine is immediately attracted to Sugar Kane, (Who wouldn't be?) The situation is complicated by Osgood Fielding III's attraction to Jerry/Daphne. Fielding is played by Joe E. Brown to whom Wilder gives the best line as the film ends. Gender-reversals, cross-dressing, and all the confusions and double entendres they permit are brilliantly coordinated by Wilder as we follow the development of several different relationships.

Over the years, Wilder's impact on other directors is evident in films such Tootsie (directed by Sydney Pollack) and Mrs. Doubtfire (Chris Columbus), both of which are highly entertaining but neither of which has the depth and cohesion which Some Like It Hot does. Of course, there are several precedents such as various Shakespeare comedies and Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. In almost all of Wilder's films, there is an edge (sometimes a very sharp edge) with which he locates and reveals human imperfections with surgical skill. (The Apartment offers an excellent case in point as does.) My own take on this film is that whatever social satire it contains is subordinate to initiating and then sustaining what many would call a "romp" or "sex farce." Few other directors have Wilder's range. I find it almost incomprehensible that the same person who directed this film, Some Like It Hot, also directed Five Graves to Cairo (1943), The Lost Weekend (1945), and Sunset Boulevard (1950).

The DVD version obviously offers clearer image and sound but also supplementary material which I also appreciate, notably the "A Look Back" documentary with Leonard Maltin and Tony Curtis as well as the Sweet Sues Featurette (The All-Girl Band) which provide a context within which to appreciate even more this uniquely entertaining film.

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October 21, 2010
This is with out a doubt a classic, great review.
October 21, 2010
nice review! I featured this! We need more classics in our community!
October 21, 2010
I was just commenting on @katknit's Quick Tip about the loss of Tony Curtis last week and came across your review since we both said this movie still has what it takes! This movie is one of my all-time faves....thanks for your review!
More Some Like It Hot (1959) reviews
Quick Tip by . July 21, 2010
Boys dressing up as women to woo a lady. Hillarious and sweet, plus Marilyn Monroe, nothing gets better than watching her on television.
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Robert Morris ()
Ranked #169
Professionally, I am an independent management consultant who specializes in accelerated executive development and breakthrough high-impact organizational performance. I also review mostly business books … more
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About this movie


Maybe "nobody's perfect," as one character in this masterpiece suggests. But some movies are perfect, andSome Like It Hotis one of them. In Chicago, during the Prohibition era, two skirt-chasing musicians, Joe and Jerry (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon), inadvertently witness the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. In order to escape the wrath of gangland chief Spats Colombo (George Raft), the boys, in drag, join an all-woman band headed for Florida. They vie for the attention of the lead singer, Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe), a much-disappointed songbird who warbles "I'm Through with Love" but remains vulnerable to yet another unreliable saxophone player. (When Curtis courts her without his dress, he adopts the voice of Cary Grant--a spot-on impersonation.) The script by director Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond is beautifully measured; everything works, like a flawless clock. Aspiring screenwriters would be well advised to throw away the how-to books and simply study this film. The bulk of the slapstick is handled by an unhinged Lemmon and the razor-sharp Joe E. Brown, who plays a horny retiree smitten by Jerry's feminine charms. For all the gags, the film is also wonderfully romantic, as Wilder indulges in just the right amounts of moonlight and the lilting melody of "Park Avenue Fantasy."Some Like It Hotis so delightfully fizzy, it's hard to believe the shooting of the film was a headache, with an unhappy Monroe on her worst behavior. ...
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Director: Billy Wilder
Genre: Classics
DVD Release Date: May 22, 2001
Runtime: 120 minutes
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
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