Some Like It Hot: Or, Tony Curtis Is So Cool He Can Woo Marilyn Monroe While Wearing a Dress

Thanks for tuning in for my latest review, this time we’re watching the fun cross dressing romp Some Like It Hot!  This 1959 film stars Jack Lemmon (yay!), Tony Curtis (yum), and Marilyn Monroe (where’s that bourbon?).  “They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They?” puts it in at #23, making this the first movie reviewed that cracks the Top 25.  Well, actually it’s the first movie reviewed that cracks the Top 300…clearly I was watching all the crappy cinematic classics before.

Full Disclosure:  It would be remiss of me not to mention that this movie consistently ranks in my Top 5 Films of All Time…usually at #1.  Yes, this is probably my favorite movie.  And I waited a whole four reviews before I watched it, which I think shows some pretty impressive restraint.  But anyway…

Joe and Jerry are two down and out musicians in Prohibition Era Chicago (apparently statistics show that 1 out of every 5 people in Chicago at this time was, in fact, a gangster). They are the hapless (fictional) witnesses of the (actual) St Valentine's Day Massacre, a kerfluffle between the South Side Italian and North Side Irish gangs of Chicago that killed seven people.  Seeing that being a witness to a mob crime isn't the most conventional way to live a long and happy life, our two buddies hightail it to Florida, hiding in the best way they know how.

By dressing up as women and joining a female jazz band.  Duh.

That's where Josephine and Daphne meet up with Sugar Kane (yes, that is her name, and yes, it is Marilyn Monroe).  She's hot, in a dumb alcoholic floozy kind of way, and the two guys suddenly wish they didn't have to pretend to be dames.

So they get to Florida, Josephine and Sugar are now biffles, and Daphne has to fend off the advances of Osgood "Zowie" Fielding III...who is the coolest millionaire sketchball I have ever seen in my life.  Dude sets the bar pretty high.  But Joe is determined to break it, by being an even cooler millionaire sketchball.

Yup...Joe dresses up as "Junior", heir to the Shell oil fortune, and woos Sugar by acting utterly indifferent to her. (Seriously, girls are into that.)  Jerry is not happy with him, but reluctantly helps him with the charade.  To the extent that he goes on a date with Fielding so that Joe can steal his boat and lead a girl there under false pretenses.  What are friends for?

Because you see, Joe comes up with a rather ingenious plan exploiting the fact that Sugar is a) a woman, and therefore thinks that she alone can "fix" him, and b) not very bright.  Joe convinces her that he has a "mental block" towards women, so Sugar keeps trying to help him by making out with him all the time.  He goes so far as to "casually mention" that if he met a girl who could make him feel something, he would marry her right away.  So she's pretty much like:

I wonder if any guy out there has actually tried that one?

Meanwhile, Daphne and Fielding tango until the break of dawn, and I ponder the concept that they are actually the less dysfunctional couple in the film.  Then my brain explodes.

So now Joe has pretty much promised Sugar that he is going to marry her and make her a millionaire's wife, only how can he possibly expect to keep this going?  He's not a millionaire, and he's also pretending to be her best girlfriend.  So what is he doing?  What is his goal?  Because if he actually likes her, there's no way all these lies are going to make her like him.  And if he is just using her for sex, then why am I supposed to like him?  Luckily, we never have to deal with these ugly realities, because I forgot the crucial plot element that resolves everything: Sugar is dumb. *whew* That was close.

So now that Joe and Jerry have both...found someone, they're thinking their troubles are over.  They've got Osgood's money, Joe's got Sugar, everything's awesome.  But then:

The bad guys from Chicago show up at the resort for a...mobster convention?  Really?  OK.  And uh-ohs, they totally recognize Joe and Jerry, even in drag.  So there's a bit of a run around, leading to the guys hiding out under a table in the conference room where the mob convention is being held.  Smart.  Although I do appreciate how intimidating they make those little white spats look as Joe sees them from under the tablecloth.

Luckily, the mobsters that are trying to catch Joe and Jerry conveniently get whacked by the other mobsters.  I wonder if that's a common occurrence at mobster conventions?  But anyway, that's one problem down.  So Jerry's going to get access to Osgood's yacht by saying that he wants to elope (this will end well), and Joe does the big reveal to Sugar.  By kissing her on the bandstand while he's dressed as a woman.  Brilliant.

Joe, Jerry, and Osgood start to go to the yacht, but before they can leave, Sugar shows up.  Apparently she doesn't care that Joe has been emotionally manipulating her for weeks.  Joe actually begs her to go back to the resort, because she deserves better than him (probably the nicest thing he's ever done in his life), and she's like "nope".  Eh?  But it doesn't matter, because it leads up to the best ending lines in cinematic history.  Jerry tries to convince Osgood that they can't get married, feeding him lines about having a terrible past, smoking, being infertile, but Osgood refuses to accept any of them.  Finally he gets frustrated, pulls his wig off and says, "I'm a man!"  Osgood's reply?  An unfazed, "Nobody's perfect."  What??  I love you, movie!

Random Musings:

  • "Jerry boy, why do you have to paint everything so black?  Suppose you got hit by a truck?  Suppose the stock market crashes?  Suppose Mary Pickford divorces Douglas Fairbanks?  Suppose the Dodgers leave Brooklyn?"  I see what you're doing there, movie.  Very clever.

  • This isn't, you know, essential to my review, but I just really need to say how ridiculously attractive Tony Curtis is.  And look: puppy!

  That is all.  We now return to our regularly scheduled program.

  • For some reason, the lines, "Where are you running?" "As far away as possible!" "That's not far enough, you don't know those guys," really sells me on the seriousness of their predicament.  Yeah, it's a comedy, but I hear that and think, "Shit just got real!"  In a lot of movies like these where some crazy scheme is invented, I always get annoyed because I can think of something a lot simpler that the characters really should have done instead of dressing up like women or trying to parachute an elephant or whatever.  But in this movie, I really buy that there's nothing they can do, that even if they went right to the police, they wouldn't live to testify, and that the best option really is pretending to be a woman and putting several states between them and the bad guys.

  • If they were so desperate for money to the point where they were considering selling the musical instruments that are their livelihood, how could they afford two female wardrobes?  And wigs?  And fake chests?  No, no...something about this doesn't add up!

  • I love the scene in the train when Jack Lemmon is peering out of his sleeper, watching all the hot blond girls in the band scurrying around in their PJs.  The look on his face is so priceless it should be used in Mastercard commercials.  In fact, the whole scene when Sugar climbs into his bed is perfect.  Poor Daphne!

  • And let's just take a quick look at this little moment:
The sweet end of the lollipop?  You're so cute and innocent, 1950s Sexual Innuendo!  

  • And this line: "I can't trust myself.  I have this thing about saxophone players, especially tenor sax...I don't know what it is, they just curdle me.  All they have to do is play eight bars of 'Come to Me My Melancholy Baby' and my spine turns to custard.  I get goose pimply all over and I come to 'em...every time."

Oh hey there, Hayes Production Code!

  • It's such a little thing, but I love that when Daphne pulls the emergency brake and the train stops quickly, Josephine pulls Sugar in protectively so that she doesn't fall.  It's a tiny detail, but it really works.

  • "Well pull in your reel, Mr Fielding, you're barking up the wrong fish." I love you Daphne!  Can we please get married?

  • OK, can we talk about the random bellboy who keeps hitting on Josephine?  He's like 3 feet tall, looks about 13, and is probably a soprano.  And he likes 'em, "big and sassy".  What?  What are you??

  • I'm having a hard time with the idea that Tony Curtis can fit into the same resort clothes as freaking Beinstock.  But I don't even care, because his Cary Grant impersonation makes me die of happiness.
"I don't talk like that!" - Actual Cary Grant Quote

  • "Oh do come, don't disappoint us, it'll be such fun!  And bring your yacht!"  I really couldn't tell you why, but this line makes me laugh every time I hear it...I blame Jack Lemmon and his delivery.  Along the same lines, "What do you think, Josephine?  What does it say in your crystal ball?!"  I just can't cope with him.

  • I love how Joe can come off as scary and threatening, even while wearing a lady's wig, a wet suit, and covered in bubbles.  Pretty impressive.  Although clearly he would have lost in a fight, because Jerry's thin but wiry, and when he's aroused he's a tiger.  Obviously.

  • Holy shit the maracas!  I don't think it is hyperbole to say that Jerry's maracas are the funniest prop in the history of cinema.  Again, I can't cope with Jack Lemmon.  I just can't.  The complete breakdown of reality and the state of utter denial that this man exists in is a site to behold.  And is it bad that his enthusiasm makes me kind of on his side?  Like when Joe says, "You're a guy, and why would a guy want to marry another guy?", the obvious answer is, "Security."  Oh Jack Lemmon, you 100% deserved this Oscar nomination.

  • George Raft (Spats Columbo, the head mobster chasing Joe and Jerry) actually does a really good job in the convention scene.  The look on his face as the cake rolls up in front of him, everyone is singing "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow", and he suddenly figures out what's going's actually pretty touching.  You know, for a gangster.

  • I so dearly love the copper from Chicago that comes into the conference room after Spats and his goons are executed.  Little Bonaparte glibly asks him if he wants to make a federal case out of it, and the copper grabs his hearing device and says, "Yeah," really loud into the speaker.  It's just a great delivery.

So that is Some Like It Hot.  What can I say?  It's a brilliantly funny script, with brilliantly funny actors (can you believe they wanted Frank Sinatra for Jack Lemmon's part?  Yeah, that would have worked) and one of the greatest sex icons of cinema.  Everything about it is just so tight and crisp and well put together.  You can't help but love it.  It deals with all these wonderful issues of femininity and masculinity and sexuality, but it never forgets that it is first and foremost a comedy.  And it delivers.  Unashamedly one of my favorite films, and one that I think has aged remarkably well.  It's so sad to think that the three wonderful film legends who made this film what it is are all gone now.

Well, thank you for reading, and I hope you all come back for my next review, which will be...Pulp Fiction!  If you like my blog and are interested in reading the rest of my reviews, you can always click the followers button on the right hand panel.  Thanks!

Want to know more about the Top 1000 List?  Check it out and see if your favorites are here! They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?

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