Some Like It Hot

Some Like It Hot

*****

Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

A pair of unemployed musicians - Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) witness the rubbing out of a police informant by 'Spats' Columbo (George Raft) in the 1929 Chicago St Valentine's Day Massacre. In a blind panic, they disguise themselves as women (Josephine and Geraldine) and pass themselves off in an all-girl band heading to Florida. Temptations arise when Sugar Kane (Marylin Monroe) and other circumstances threaten to uncover their disguise. Joe falls in love with the luminous Kane; all the while Jerry (now dubbed "Daphne") sends multi-millionaire Osgood Fielding III (a peerlessly hammy Joe E Brown)'s pulse racing.

It's one of the oldest comedy tricks in the book, men dressing as women, Joe and Jerry clunking down the train station complaining bitterly about their heels. "How do they move in these things?". Monroe's entrance is even more wonderful - "Would you look at that!? Like Jell-O on springs!". The script is packed with small sight-gags, including a nicely referential one with George Raft picking on a subordinate flipping a coin - "where did you pick up that cheap trick?!" - probably from Raft's performance in Scarface (1932).

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This is possibly the raciest picture ever to get a U-rating; a sheer unadulterated sex comedy hidden behind the veil of screwball. What makes this all the funnier is the layered and enormously complex set of emotions running throughout. Nothing is ever on the level. Monroe has never been as explosively erotic, or as much of an oblivious bombshell. Curtis and Lemmon make a simply glorious double-act; the pair's pure libido drives quick-witted quip, sight gag and one running laugh after another. The script is probably the most eminently quotable since Casablanca (1942).

Offscreen, the most memorable quote about Some Like It Hot was Curtis describing kissing Marilyn Monroe as "kissing Hitler". Oh, dear lordy! - Hitler must have been a wonderful lover. Watch Curtis and Monroe giving it some welly during the barely restrained (and hilariously duplicitous) seduction.

The movie crackles with eccentric, delightful and breezy characterisation joined by some of the most astute comic timing ever to emerge from Hollywood. The greatest farce in the movies.

Reviewed on: 20 Jun 2011
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Classic cross-dressing comedy as two unemployed musicians go on the run from gangsters in an all-girl band.
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Director: Billy Wilder

Writer: Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond, Robert Thoeren, Michael Logan

Starring: Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, George Raft, Pat O'Brien, Joe E. Brown, Nehemiah Persoff, Joan Shawlee, Billy Gray, George E. Stone, Dave Barry, Mike Mazurki, Harry Wilson, Beverly Wills, Barbara Drew

Year: 1959

Runtime: 120 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: USA

Festivals:

EIFF 2011

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