22. Some Like it Hot (1959)

After two male musicians witness a mob hit, they flee the state in an all-female band disguised as women, but further complications set in.

Some Like it Hot, written and directed by the great Billy Wilder, is, in fact, one of my favorite films. However, I’m trying to figure out how the film has aged. I’m trying to figure out if this classic romantic comedy from 1959 becomes “politically incorrect” through the lense of 2021. My brain tells me that a couple things might be questionable here and there but that, overall, the film has aged well and remains a comedic classic. If anything, the morals of our main characters are merely skewed.

Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon star as Joe and Jerry, two musicians playing clubs in Chicago during the prohibition era. In a strange turn of events, the two witness a massacre ala St. Valentine’s Day (which is something my American Midwest-history classes taught me about, strangely enough). They need to go into hiding so they manage to get 2 spots in an all-women band headed to Miami, Florida, where they go by the names Josephine (Joe) and Daphne (Jerry). There they befriend many women, but the one that truly draws them both in is Sugar Kane Kowalczyk from Sandusky, Ohio, played by the effervescent Marilyn Monroe. From there, Joe not only continues to be Josephine, but he also becomes Mr. Shell Oil Junior in order to attract Sugar, who is determined to find a wealthy husband in Miami, so she can go live a life of luxury. Meanwhile, Jerry being Daphne begins see an actual millionaire, Mr. Osgood Fielding III played by Joe E. Brown, all so Joe as Junior could sneak onto Fielding’s yacht and convince Sugar that it is his. So, morally, everybody is in the wrong in this film, which is why I think it has aged well even through the lense of 2021.

Some Like it Hot, to me, is the epitome of clever, quick-witted writing. The jokes are seamless and far from forced. There was a beautiful flow to it all, and it all came from the way both Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond wrote. They had their scripts and, once they had their cast, those scripts would be tweaked to play to those actor’s strengths, which I have always looked at as a strength and not a weakness in the filmmaker.

The performances of our main three actors, Curtis, Lemmon, and Monroe, are phenomenal. Curtis absolutely perfects the feminine voice. It honestly freaks me out every single time I watch it happen. It’s a seamless transition. Lemmon’s physical comedy is spot on. And Monroe is at her peak. The chemistry between Monroe and Curtis is there. Which becomes shocking when you find out how much Curtis disliked working with Monroe, due to her always being late to set due to crippling anxiety and a mass amount of drugs that the studio addicted her to. But, that story is for another place and time.

The biggest indication to me that Some Like it Hot absolutely deserves to be on the American Film Institute’s list is that my 26 year-old brother who has an aversion to black and white movies and will avoid them like the plague, who happened to be in the room at the time I was watching this film, ended up sitting down on the couch next to me and watching the whole movie. And he laughed out loud over and over and over again.

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