1 Year, 100 Movies: #22 Some Like it Hot (1959)


For 1 Year, 100 Movies, I will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and please pass the popcorn!

Some Like it Hot,” is a hilarious film that had never seen, and thoroughly enjoyed.  The entire film is overflowing with classic, iconic, quotable and ridiculously funny moments. There is no way to explain the full depth of the comedic brilliance this film offers- you’ll just have to watch it for yourself.

The director Billy Wilder employs the classic comedic device of cross-dressing men in his farcical romp. Men have been dressing as women for humorous effect as long as theater has existed, but it is impossible not to touch on gender issues when this happens. Is “Some Like It Hot” a feminist piece or a non-feminist piece? There are articles that were on both sides of the issue, but I really don’t think that it’s either, which is one of the reasons that the film still holds up. Unlike “Tootsie” a film, which tries to make a point about gender, “Some Like It Hot” uses gender and cross-dressing as a way to move the story and develop character.

“Some Like It Hot” is the story of Joe and Jerry, two out of work musicians struggling to scrape by in Chicago during the prohibition. The speakeasy they were working at was broken up in a raid. They find out from their manager about a job in Florida, but it turns out that it’s an all female band. So instead they take a gig for one night outside of town, but when they go to pick up their friend’s car at the Southside garage, things get even worse. They witness too much during an execution by a mobster- and hightail it out of there before they are caught.

Scared that the mobsters are on their tail, they accept the positions in the all female band, and create their female personas. After they have figured out that they have to do this to survive, the fact that Josephine and Daphne are really men is like a funny secret between Jerry and Joe and the movie viewers. Jack Lemmon is brilliant at this sort of understated “wink and a nod” type of humor. They integrate themselves with the band, and are both instantly attracted to Sugar “Kane” Kowalczyk (Marilyn Monroe)- cue the ensuing hilarity. They travel by train to Florida, and spend a side-splitting scene throwing a ‘surprise party’ in Jerry’s bunk- (good thing they sleep as women!)

Jerry and Joe make it to Florida undetected, but once at the resort, the precariousness of their situation becomes even clearer. The wealthy Osgood Fielding III (Joe E. Brown), struck by Daphne’s alluring qualities, pursues Jerry/Daphne with a smarmy relentlessness. Joe decides to take matters in his own hands and leaving behind his female persona, he dresses as a yacht-owning millionaire to attract the attention of Sugar, who happens to be looking for a little gold- and a man to go with it. All the while, Jerry is playing on the beach with the women in the band. Joe, disguised as the heir of Shell Oil, secures a date with Sugar, and Osgood, with some pushing from Joe, gets Daphne/Jerry to go dancing with him.

After their dates, Joe and Jerry return to their hotel room, each thoroughly excited. Joe sees potential with Sugar, but frets over how to reveal that he’s also Josephine and not a millionaire. Jerry/Daphne tells Joe that Osgood proposed to him and he happily accepted. Jerry seems sincerely happy about the offer of marriage, which makes the situation all the more humorous. Joe shakes Jerry out of his love stupor, and the two find out that Spats and his cronies are in town for a national mob family meeting and are staying at the same hotel- whoopsie! The unlucky duo witness another mob hit, and are pursued yet again by a group of gangsters. Joe and Jerry have planned an escape with the help of Osgood, which leads to the final and HILARIOUS moments of the film.

Besides and just as important as the comedy in this film, the acting is fantastic. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis are brilliant in their comedic timing. I can’t say enough about how incredible they are in these roles. It would take a strong actress to keep up with them, and Marilyn Monroe is more than just her figure and even her voice. She is a really smart and seriously funny actress and more than holds her own in this film. Her timing is impeccable, and she gives us a well-rounded, thoughtful, intelligent, flawed character, who also happens to be attractive. Though she was never nominated for an Academy Award, Monroe did take home the Golden Globe for her performance as Sugar.

In my humble, non-professional, average movie-goer opinion this movie earns:



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