What do soup and summer days
And bedtime milk and big buffets
Have in common with your tea
And pie and wind and panini
And thoughts about celebrities
And temps for different types of skis?
Have you thought of it or not?
Yes, that’s right! Some like them hot.
Some also like them cold, and so
Which one are you, I’d like to know?
MPAA rating: PG
Well, I’m still trying to catch up on my Blindspots, and since it’s been hot as blazes outside lately, Some Like It Hot seemed like a good choice for my next review. (For the record, I do not like it hot. I can’t wait for fall.) This is one of those classics among classics that it just seemed more and more wrong that I, as a movie lover, hadn’t seen it yet, which is exactly what this Blindspot series is for anyway. Now that I’ve seen it, I can recognize its special place in the pantheon of comedy, but there have been plenty of funnier movies since.
I don’t mean to badmouth a classic, since that is what Some Like It Hot is. Starting out more like a gangster movie than a comedy, the film follows the misadventures of two musicians Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon), who keep finding themselves at the wrong place at the wrong time. When they happen to witness a mob massacre by the vengeful “Spats” Colombo (George Raft), they escape Chicago by dressing as women, calling themselves Josephine and Daphne, and joining an all-girl band on their way to Miami. Of course, things get inevitably complicated when Joe becomes attracted to fellow bandmate Sugar (Marilyn Monroe) and a millionaire (Joe E. Brown) improbably falls for Jerry.
I guess crossdressing is just inherently funny, at least in the movies. That’s what the AFI seems to think, placing Some Like It Hot at #1 on their list of top 100 comedies, with Tootsie right behind at #2. (Incidentally, Mrs. Doubtfire is at #67, and I love that one more than either of the others.) While Some Like It Hot had me consistently amused, especially once Curtis and Lemmon donned their feminine alter egos, I find it laughable that this would be considered the best comedy ever made, much less one of the greatest films overall.
Certainly, there are elements I can tell have influenced comedies since, such as Joe’s rush to change between his male and female clothes, much as Robin Williams did 34 years later. However, Joe does this in order to fool Sugar into believing he’s her wealthy dream man, which begs the question of how he thought he could get away with such a ploy in any lasting way, and his dishonesty not only makes the runtime a bit too long but is also blithely ignored when the truth comes to light, in contrast to the collective shock at the end of Tootsie or Mrs. Doubtfire. Lemmon, on the other hand, gets the best comedic scenes, sometimes struggling with his “femininity,” while other times losing himself in character.
As shameful as it is for a cinephile to admit, this is actually the first comedy I’ve seen of director Billy Wilder (I’ve at least watched his The Spirit of St. Louis) and the first film starring Marilyn Monroe. Wilder’s direction is beyond reproach, and he includes a few clever cinematic touches, like the repeated shots of “Spats” Colombo’s shoes to portend the approach of danger. Monroe had a greater challenge, though, since I had always associated her with her short-breathed, dumb blonde persona (which my VC can’t stand, for the record), but I was pleasantly surprised by her and her musical moments. Despite being a gold digger, her portrayal of Sugar was hardly one-note, even expressing weariness at her own “dumb blonde” proclivities, and I’m now much more interested than before in exploring her other iconic roles.
While I wouldn’t call Some Like It Hot the amazing movie it is commonly considered, it was still a good one and worthy to be called a classic. I finally got to understand the context for many familiar clips, such as the famous last line and that grating “poo poo pee doo” song parodied so perfectly by Ginger on Gilligan’s Island. So, complaints aside, I’d call this a successful and long overdue Blindspot pick. By the way, did you know it’s based off a 1935 French film called Fanfare of Love? I guess that’s another film I’ll have to check out for comparison’s sake some day.
Best line: (Sugar) “Water polo? Isn’t that terribly dangerous?” (Joe, pretending to be rich) “I’ll say. I had two ponies drowned under me.”
Rank: List Runner-Up
© 2018 S.G. Liput
584 Followers and Counting