Movie Review: Some Like it Hot (1959) #atozchallenge

I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge by watching and reviewing some of my favorite movies of all time that I haven’t watched in a long time. This post contains SPOILERS!

Title: Some Like it Hot
Release Date: March 29, 1959
Director: Billy Wilder
Production Company: Mirisch Company 

Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) are struggling musicians who play sax and double bass in a speakeasy jazz orchestra in 1929 Chicago.  When they witness mobsters gunning down their rivals in a garage, they decide to disguise themselves as women and join an all-female jazz band that will be playing at a resort in Miami.

On the train with Sweet Sue and her Society Syncopators, Joe (now Josephine) and Jerry (now Daphne) both become enamored with the band’s vocalist and ukulele player Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe).  During an impromptu party on the train, they individually make connections with Sugar.

In Florida, Jerry attracts the eye of an aging millionaire playboy, Osgood Fielding III (Joe E. Brown).  Joe creates another disguise as an heir to the Shell Oil company to attract Sugar.  One night, Jerry agrees to go dancing with Osgood so that Joe can take Sugar to Osgood’s yacht and pretend it’s his own.

Their hotel hosts a “Friends of Italian Opera” convention which is actually a cover for a national organized crime gathering. Chicago mobster “Spats” Colombo (George Raft) recognizes Joe and Jerry through their disguises.  While hiding at the convention, Joe and Jerry witness another mob hit.  On the run again, they flee with Osgood to his yacht with Sugar joining them.  Joe and Jerry reveal their true identities in one of the most hilarious film finales ever.

When Did I First See This Movie?:

One of many movies I watched with my family on tv as a kid in the mid-80s.  I remember liking it but for some reason never got around to watching it again until now.

What Did I Remember?:

I remember the train party, Tony Curtis dressing up as a millionaire and impersonating Cary Grant, and some of the basic plot.

What Did I Forget?:

Pretty much all of the mobster subplot.  I was actually impressed by the car chase that opens the movie and all the gags about the speakeasy in a funeral home are funny.  There’s about 10 minutes of this before we even meet Jerry and Joe.  I also forgot about Osgood and how the movie ends, believe it or not.

What Makes This Movie Great?:

This movie is a cornball comedy that goes from merely good to great on the backs of four individuals at the height of their game: director Billy Wilder and actors Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon. I find Lemmon in particular to be hilarious in every scene he is in.  Monroe’s performance is a brilliant balance of sweet and simple with pure sexuality.  It’s surprising that she was so troubled in the making of this movie (arriving late, forgetting lines, etc.) because her performance seems so effortless.

What Doesn’t Hold Up?:

I was expecting a movie in which men dress as women and are horny for Marilyn Monroe to have aged poorly.  And there’s definitely some sexual/gender politics that don’t stand up.  But the amazing thing is that this movie avoids some of the cheap sexist jokes that later comedies that follow the similar plot tropes would revel in. I’m not going to say that Some Like it Hot is progressive, but it is a movie that seems okay with things about sexuality and gender that you wouldn’t expect from 1959.

Is It a Classic?:

I’d argue that Some Like it Hot is both a great movie, a definite classic, but also overrated.  When I see ranked as the greatest comedy of all-time I think it sets expectations too high.

Rating: ****

Seventeen-ish More All-Time Favorite Movies Starting With S:

  1. Say Anything…
  2. The Secret of Kells
  3. Seven Up! series (all nine movies including 56 Up and 63 Up)
  4. Sophie’s Choice
  5. Star Wars saga (especially Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Last Jedi)
  6. Stop Making Sense
  7. Sunset Boulevard

What is your favorite movie starting with S?  Any guesses for a movie starting with T (hint: it’s a LucasFilm production)?  Let me know in the comments.

4 thoughts on “Movie Review: Some Like it Hot (1959) #atozchallenge

  1. I need to watch that one again, just seeing the preview is making me laugh. Jack Lemmen is one of the funniest and best actors of all time. I used to have a terrible crush on Tony Curtis! As to your other “S” movies, I love #2 (have watched it several times!) and #6 and I’ve seen all of the Seven Up! segments except for 63 Up. I can’t find it anywhere to watch!

    Liked by 1 person

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