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Some Like it Hot

A Little Spun Sugar in a Sweet, Madcap Comedy

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

By

Tony, Marilyn and Jack, smokln'!

Some Like It Hot DVD Cover

(c) United Artists
One of the great screwball comedies, Some Like It Hot answers the burning question: will Jack Lemmon's romantic life actually improve if he puts on a dress?

You bet. In fact, just about everybody has a good time in this fun, silly movie, with Lemmon and Tony Curtis in drag, hiding out from the mob in an all-girl band, and Marilyn Monroe as the dizzy blonde singer who keeps getting "the fuzzy end of the lollipop."

The Plot

Lemmon plays bass fiddle and Curtis plays sax in a prohibition-era Chicago speakeasy where the 80-proof comes in coffee cups. They're counting on payday, but the cops raid the joint and they're out of a job.

The boys are still wearing pants when they try to borrow a car to get to a new gig -- but the car is in a garage at 2122 North Clark Street, and it's February 14, 1929. Our hapless heroes witness the St. Valentine's Day massacre, narrowly escaping from Al Capone stand-in George Raft, as mobster "Spats" Colombo.

With every thug in Chicago gunning for them, we next see the boys tottering on heels, primly disguised as sax player "Josephine" and "Daphne," who has a few bullet holes in her bass. The two spot curvy Sugar Kane Kowalczyk (Monroe) on the train platform, and three weeks at a Florida resort - even in drag - start looking better.

Sugar, trying to curb her weakness for booze and saxophone players, confides to Josephine (the sax player, remember?) that she's hoping to find a millionaire hubby in Florida. Curtis promptly steals some resort clothes, and runs into Sugar on the beach disguised as the heir to Shell Oil, with a dead-on Cary Grant impersonation. ("Nobody talks like that," Lemmon sputters as Sugar takes the bait.)

Meanwhile, "Daphne" is pursued by real millionaire Osgood Fielding III (Joe E. Brown) who has a yacht and a penchant for plus-size chorus girls. Unfortunately for everybody, our mobster friends from Chicago have chosen this very hotel for a winter meeting, and it doesn't take them long to recognize the tommy-gun holes in the bass fiddle. Oh-oh.

The Cast of 'Some Like it Hot'

Lemmon is delicious as Daphne, towering over suitor Brown as they tango. In a scene Lemmon himself thought was among his career best, he daydreams about whether a honeymoon on the French Riviera or the more-traditional Niagara Falls would be best - before he has to break the news to Osgood that, well, he's a he.

It's harder to like Curtis's character as he deceives poor, dim Sugar - but he turns out to be an all-right guy, more or less, and he and Lemmon are terrific together. Monroe, who was pregnant during filming, is even more voluptuous and ditsy than usual as she tries to cure Curtis's fake millionaire of his faux frigidity. (The actress later miscarried.)

George Raft mocks himself as a movie mobster, at one point dissing a young thug for flipping a coin in the air (a bit of business Raft himself made famous in Scarface). "Where did you pick up a cheap trick like that?" he sneers. Pat O'Brien sends up his own Irish-cop movie persona as Detective Mulligan, and the whole cast of cops, wiseguys and mob muscle men is a delight.

'Some Like It Hot' - the Bottom Line

Nobody would ever really mistake these two for women, especially playing at close quarters with Marilyn in some of her most risqué film outfits. But that's not the point. Funny is the point, and this is a funny, funny movie.

It's all there - the convoluted plot, the spang-on timing, the ridiculous situations, the crackling pace and the great dialogue. The American Film Institute put this at the top of its list of great American comedies, and for good reason.

Although various decency crusaders at the time wanted the film banned, Some Like it Hot helped bring an end to a Hollywood production code that hamstrung directors who wanted to use themes like cross-dressing - in scenes that today seem as harmless as high school skits. It's sweet-natured movie really, just spun sugar, a bit of classic movie cotton candy that won't even give you a toothache. Don't miss it.

Recommended for You:

If you liked Some Like it Hot, try other Billy Wilder comedies, or screwball comedies like It Happened One Night or His Girl Friday

'Some Like it Hot' at a Glance:

Year: 1959, Black and White
Director: Billy Wilder
Running Time: 81 minutes
Studio: United Artists
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