Some Like It Hot
Zach Davis

Directed by: Billy Wilder

Starring: Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, George Raft, Joe E. Brown, and Pat O'Brien

Some Like It Hot really shows the cultural leaps and open-mindedness towards which America was heading by the end of the late fifties.  A movie about two men in drag hiding out from the mob all while Marilyn Monroe shows off, well, Marilyn.  The humor, the sexuality, and the writing were all phenomenal leaps toward what I would consider a modern movie production.  This would definitely not have flown in the forties.

Jerry (Jack Lemmon) and Joe (Tony Curtis) play the bass and saxophone at a speakeasy in the Prohibition days.  After the joint gets raided, the two make it out safely and search for a new job.  They get wind of a great gig in Michigan, but they're going to need a car to get there.  The gig is on Valentine’s Day, and they go to a garage to borrow a car for the ride.  It just so happens that Spats (George Raft), the guy who owns the speakeasy, comes by the garage because the man who ratted him out works there.  What transpires next is the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre.  After barely escaping with their lives from this bloody affair, Jerry and Joe become prime witnesses of the massacre, which is a liability for Spats.

Instead of taking the gig in Michigan, Jerry and Joe end up joining Sweet Sue and her Society Syncopators, an all-girl band on its way to Miami.  Daphne and Josephine —or Jerry and Joe as we know them — are walking along a train station to catch their ride to make the gig.  While on the train, the pair seems to have every one fooled and quickly begins to fit in with the rest of the gals, particularly a wild singer named Sugar Kane Kowalczyk (Monroe).  Sugar confesses to Josephine (Joe) that she wants to find herself a nice bespectacled millionaire with a yacht whom she can marry while in Miami.

The girls / guys end up in Miami, and the ruse seems to be working out well.  In particular, Joe starts to pull a double act to win over Sugar by using the very insights he learned about her while in disguise on the train to pick her up.  The nice persona and the glasses are easy to come by, but the yacht is still the missing piece.  That’s where Daphne (Jerry) comes in.  She’s caught the eye of a millionaire named Osgood (Joe E. Brown).  A comedy of errors ensues as Joe tries to woo Sugar under the guise of feigned wealth, and Daphne can’t seem to shake the advances of an actual millionaire.  Then, to make matters worse and tie the story altogether, Spats shows up at the hotel.  The two men now realize that the charade is up and their lives are in danger.

I have not laughed at a movie this hard in a long time.  That is in part due to the outstanding cast we have on hand in Some Like It Hot.  Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis play off of each other so well that they could have taken their act on the road.  For his part as Jerry, Lemmon gives an acting lesson.  He has some of the best comedic timing I’ve ever seen in the film and gets increasingly funnier as the movie progresses.  For his part as Joe, Curtis hilariously does a Carry Grant impression while pretending to be a millionaire to seduce Sugar.  Coming from a child of the eighties, he will always be Top Cat in my mind, but I’ve learned better. 

When not laughing, we have the voluptuous Marilyn Monroe.  As Sugar, she shows us exactly how most men of the Baby Boomer generation got through puberty.  After seeing Marilyn on screen, I think I know how JFK had a happy birthday now.  Beyond her beauty, I must say that her acting isn't that bad either.  She has very strong comedic chops and leaves us wanting more of her in more ways than one.

The actors aren't the only reason Some Like It Hot has stood the test of time, and the crew certainly deserves their fair share of the credit.  First, the editing on this film is very sharp.  There are scenes with splices where you can't pick up a single thing.  As such, the continuity flows very smoothly.  Second, the cinematography is standard but offers some impressive shots of Miami Beach before the age of cocaine.

Billy Wilder is a great comedic writer and director, and the pacing and structure of Some Like It Hot was ahead of its time.  This movie could have come out this year, and it still would be a success.  Luckily, it came out when it did.  For that, Some Like It Hot became a timeless classic.  No drinks are needed as the film provides all the entertainment you’ll need.  Some Like It Hot gets a sober rating.