#354 Some Like It Hot (1959)

Some Like It Hot is a rollicking comedy that features two fun-loving chauvanists in drag chasing some hot Marilyn Monroe tail while fleeing mobsters out to get them after witnessing a brutal execution. Okay, so that opening sentence is a bit too much, but so isn’t this hilarious boozy comedy that showcases Lemmon, Curtis, and Monroe at the height of their game. Labeled “The Best Comedy of All Time” by the American Film Institute, Diamond and Wilder’s independently written and independently produced script is wound as tight as a Swiss watch, pulling up gags and knocking them down three or four times over by the end of the film. Truly a pleasure to watch. The film surprisingly holds up and lacks many ethical or social concerns one would think should be considered decades later considering the subject matter. Pleasurable, funny, and enticing, Some Like it Hot is “sensationally funny, fizzing from start to finish with great situations, cleverly crafted gags, breakneck timing, and terrific performances” (Errigo).

I’ve watched this film before and thoroughly enjoy the writing, optimism, fun, plotting, and characterization of films from this era. The story is a hoot, with our main protagonists staring down morbid alcoholism while barely able to hold a job, a relationship, or a dollar. Still, it’s easy to root for these guys as they make mistake after mistake. They are surprisingly rewarded for some of them, the most notable being the love of Marilyn Monroe who in this film is a soused girl who has men fawning over her but none committing to sticking around long enough to make an honest woman of her. Where it gets weird is that she falls in love with one of our characters under completely false pretenses – and manages to forgive him? The dudes are kinda bad people, but we fall in love with them because they are good in their hearts and don’t seem to know any better.

A few questions that I had at the end of the film were… What is the trans perspective of this film? I really only saw one cringeworthy conversation from my perspective, mainly that the whole movie has this pair sporting drag and trying to get women under false pretenses. But they are kind of bad people and don’t know any better, so what does that mean for what they do? And the premise?  Also, similarly, I would love to know the feminist perspective on this film. As a self-coined feminist, I kinda have a problem with the last five minutes of the film. Monroe falls for Tony Curtis’ rich character by simply being rich, and spends the film completely starving for his attention even though he’s trying to ignore her. Of course, these are her choices to make, but what is with her completely having no problem with the men lying to her for literally the entire movie? Is that charming? To me, that just sounds loud, red, horrifying alarms for Candy’s near-term and long-term future. I could almost see her wearing a pencil skirt and a button-down with a pencil in her mouth reading “Mountebanks and Relationships: A Practical Guide To Love.”

On the surface, a really fun film. I love every scene with music, and the film is full of it. Monroe’s final solo in the basement club is beautiful. Still, the film raises a lot of questions for contemporary audiences that may or may not ever need to be answered on a grand cultural scale sixty years later. Frankly, the final line of the film seems to sweep all of these concerns away when Jack Lemmon finally comes out to tell Joe E. Brown, “I’m a man,” to which Brown replies, “well, we can’t all be perfect.” Perhaps this was Wilder’s slight nod to the fact that, in fact, women are the perfect creatures deserving of the respect they deserve – unlike these truly funny, can’t-catch-a-break clowns.


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