Some Like It Hot – Billy Wilder
Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot is an outrageous, satirical spoof of the 1920’s in which Wilder deftly spends two hours milking one joke, that of two musicians on the run from Chicago mobsters, who disguise themselves as women and join an all-girl band. With its broad humor and its period costumes, Some Like It Hot is reminiscent of the Marx Brothers, early Woody Allen films, and Mack Sennett comedies. It is a madcap lampoon of the 1920’s, encompassing speakeasies, gangsters, gambling, bootlegging, and even murder by machine gun.
Musicians Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) accidentally witness the St. Valentine’s Day massacre. With an angered Spats Colombo (George Raft) and his boys on their trails, they have to flee. First, however, they need disguises, and the presence of an all-girl band is the answer to their problems—but only after they shave their legs and become members. In a clever, breezy transition, the boys discuss the possibility of shaved legs in one scene; the next scene begins with a close-up of their legs wobbling on high heels.
Disguised as Josephine (Joe) and Daphne (Jerry), the two share a train car with other members of the band, including the luscious (and a bit of a “lush”) Sugar (Marilyn Monroe). Both experience uneasy moments during the train ride, Joe’s (Josephine’s) taking place when the train makes an unexpected stop, throwing the lovely Sugar into his arms. Jerry’s (Daphne’s) dilemma occurs when Sugar climbs into his berth to thank him for saving her job; when she was going to get the ax because of her drinking, Daphne stepped in to take the blame. Lonely Sugar in a seductive black nightgown proves too much for Jerry to handle, and he asks Sugar to join him in a drink, at which time a surprise—his real identity—will be revealed. In no time at all, Sugar has passed the word about the drinking party, which Jerry had wanted to be private. Thus, Jerry winds up with an eight-girl slumber party in his berth.
Some Like It Hot is highlighted by a delicious tangle of identities. Once the all-girl group arrives in Florida, for example, Jerry is coaxed by Joe into encouraging the advances of the wolfish Osgood Fielding III (Joe E. Brown), who has admired Daphne’s legs, in order that Joe can assume another identity. Josephine, who, like Daphne, has become one of Sugar’s best “girl friends,” has talked with her about the kind of man she is looking for. Joe is determined to be it. With Jerry as Daphne flirting with Osgood, Joe can assume the identity of “Junior” (of “Vanity Fair and Shell Oil fame”). In order to appear with the accouterments to be “Junior,” Joe requires the use of the preoccupied Osgood’s yacht.
As Junior, Joe dons glasses, a Cary Grant accent, and yachting jacket and cap. After luring Sugar to his yacht, he tries to evoke the indifference of the upper class. He keeps a copy of the Wall Street Journal at hand, discusses the art of water polo (on horses), and, in pointing out the difference between the fore and aft of a ship, explains that it depends “whether you’re coming or going.” Junior, who maintains he gets no thrill at all from women, utilizes psychiatric jargon so that Sugar will ask for the privilege of seducing him. Although he gets no “thrill” from women, however, his glasses begin steaming when Sugar tries to help him overcome his “problem.”
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