Some Like It Hot (1959)
Runtime: 120 minutes
Color: Black and White
Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1
Director: Billy Wilder
Release Date: 03/29/59
Film star: Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon
Awards: Won Oscar Best Costume Design, Black-and-White
This classic is one movie that has it all! I love Some Like It Hot for its jazzy music, gangsters peddling liquor, and of course, Marilyn Monroe’s sexy dresses. With director Billy Wilder and an all-star cast, there is something for everyone to enjoy about this movie.
Sirens, car chases and gunshots ring out. Prohibition was the boom time for the Chicago mobsters. Spats Colombo is the archetypal gangster character that runs a hot speakeasy using the Mozzarella Funeral Home as his covert front. He’s called Spats because of his fastidious dressing and impeccable care he has for the white spats he wears every day. From the very beginning the excitement kicks off and there is a chase scene with cops opening fire on a hearse. The shots rip holes through the casket inside and brown streams of whiskey come flowing out.
A Chicago city cop uses a snitch, Toothpick Charlie, to get into the super secret and exclusive funeral home. One of my very favorite things about this movie is the fast-talking dialogue. You have to listen closely to their quick and dry one-liners. This humor is something I find rarely in American movies, but is totally laugh out loud funny.
The speakeasy’s musicians are none other than Tony Curtis as Joe and Jack Lemmon as Jerry. They notice the cop in the front row and escape just before the big raid. Jobs were lean and money tight, so they trawled their agent for some new gigs. They overhear a great gig that is open in Miami! The only problem was that the gig was a women-only troupe of musicians. Defeated, the guys leave instead for a small-time gig, heading first to the garage to pick up a friend’s car.
Joe is so handsome and charming that he can get away with just about anything! He can talk his best friend Jerry into any hare-brained idea he can scheme. He wriggles the car away from the agent’s secretary with a whisper in her ear. While in the garage, Spats and his gang rolls in. You see the same Toothpick Charlie sitting around a poker table with some of his friends. Spats guns down all of the wise-guy poker players for “singing” to the cops. The musicians try to duck and hide, but they have been discovered. They escape only by the skin of their teeth and decide they must go into hiding if they are to stay alive.
The girl’s musical troupe is boarding a train, and joining the train are two new girls: Josephine and Daphne. Yes, Joe and Jerry decided to take the gamble and get out of Chicago and catch some sun in Miami. They are suited up and ready to play the role of women. With wigs, makeup, fashionable dresses they are making their best attempt to pass in order to stay below the gangsters’ radar. Who comes jiggling up to catch the train to Miami is none other than the gorgeous Sugar Kane Kowalczyk, played by Marilyn Monroe. Jerry says she looks like, “Jell-o on springs”.
Daphne and Josephine pass for women, but not without arousing some suspicion. The problem that this presents is ludicrous, but Wilder completely succeeds in selling it. Together with the talents of the top-rate actors and the suspension of disbelief the audience is willing to accept, Some Like It Hot is outstanding.
Tony Curtis’s character Joe begins to fall for Sugar – who wouldn’t! He cooks up a brilliant plan to introduce himself to her as a man. Once they arrive in Miami, Joe manages to confiscate some men’s clothes and impersonates one of those millionaires that flock to the sun. One of these millionaires has fallen for the clever and acerbic Daphne. So it seems that both Joe and Jerry have found their match! What a tightrope walk both men accomplish to keep their identity undercover and Joe has even managed a third identity!
Marilyn Monroe is as lovely as ever in Some Like It Hot. She is warm, adorable, witty and sexy. Her character, Sugar, is so fed up with her poor taste in men. She has also “escaped” with this female-only band to keep away from the sexy sax players that have brought her heartbreak in her love life. She is drawn to Josephine’s personality. When she meets the millionaire Joe is pretending to be, “Junior”, she has no idea she is falling for another no-good sax player.
As the story finally begins to calm down from the gender-bending, gravity-defying games of Joe and Jerry, the gangsters roll into Miami. As coincidence would have it, the gangsters are having an annual meeting in Miami! What are the chances? They do identify the “big girls” in the jazz group as the two that escaped the garage earlier. A great big chase threads in and out of that Miami hotel but there is a happy resolution in the end.
The ending ties up all the loose strings into a beautiful package. Movies from this era are totally implausible with gaps in the logic of reality, but, so what. Like I said in the beginning, this movie really does have something for everyone. If you love gangster movies, comedies, or Marilyn Monroe, then you will love Some Like It Hot.