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Ali Sorokin
Ali Sorokin

Some Like It Hot(1959)

We found the same claim repeated a number of times on Twitter, as well as on Instagram. However, it's unclear whether legislation recently passed in Tennessee would result in that film, or others like it, like "Mrs. Doubtfire," being banned.

Some Like It Hot(1959)

Based on the context, "adult cabaret performances" might be interpreted to mean "live performances" only. It can also be argued popular mainstream films like "Some Like It Hot" or "Mrs. Doubtfire" do not "appeal to the prurient interest."

here should be no doubt this morning that the members of the happily irreverent film troupe that made "Some Like It Hot" have done something constructive about the old wheeze that begins, "Who was that lady I saw you with?" For, in fashioning this overlong, occasionally labored but often outrageously funny series of variations on an ancient gag, they have come up with a rare, rib-tickling lampoon that should keep them, the customers and the management of the newly refurbished Loew's State, which reopened yesterday, chortling with glee.

As the band's somewhat simple singer-ukulele player, Miss Monroe, whose figure simply cannot be overlooked, contributes more assets than the obvious ones to this madcap romp. As a pushover for gin and the tonic affect of saxophone players, she sings a couple of whispery old numbers ("Running Wild" and "I Wanna Be Loved by You") and also proves to be the epitome of a dumb blonde and a talented comedienne.

The all-time outrageous, satirical, comedy farce favorite, Some Like It Hot (1959) is one of the most hilarious, raucous films ever made. The ribald film is a clever combination of many elements: a spoof of 1920-30's gangster films with period costumes and speakeasies, and romance in a quasi-screwball comedy with one central joke - entangled and deceptive identities, reversed sex roles and cross-dressing. In fact, one of the film's major themes is disguise and masquerade - e.g., the drag costumes of the two male musicians, Joe's disguise as a Cary Grant-like impotent millionaire, and Jerry's happiness with a real wealthy, yacht-owning retiree.

This was Marilyn Monroe's second film with director Billy Wilder, her first being The Seven Year Itch (1955). Countless stories have circulated regarding her erratic behavior and health/personal problems, her 'no-shows' and frequent tardiness to the set, her self-doubts and numerous re-takes required for some scenes, and her inability to remember her lines. Director Billy Wilder's original choice for the role of Sugar was Mitzi Gaynor, not Marilyn Monroe, and after Tony Curtis was signed on, Danny Kaye and Frank Sinatra were considered for the second male lead role before Lemmon was signed.

This extremely funny film, very much unlike director Wilder's darker films Double Indemnity (1944) and Sunset Boulevard (1950), was advertised with the tagline: "The movie too HOT for words" - vaguely referring to either sex, jazz, or the skimpy costumes. It was released at the end of the repressive 1950s at a time when the studio system was weakening, the advent of television was threatening, and during a time of the declining influence of the Production Code and its censorship restrictions. However, the Catholic League of Decency strongly complained about the film, calling it "seriously offensive to Christian and traditional standards of morality and decency" due to its subject of transvestism, double-entendre dialogue, and intimations of homosexuality and lesbianism.

Jerry: How do they walk in these things, huh? How do they keep their balance? Joe: It must be the way the weight is distributed. Now, come on. Jerry: It's so drafty. They must be catching cold all the time, huh? Joe: Will you quit stalling? We're gonna miss the train. Jerry: I feel naked. I feel like everybody's staring at me! Joe: With those legs, are you crazy? Now, come on.

Jerry: Look at that! Look how she moves. That's just like Jell-O on springs. She must have some sort of built-in motor, or somethin'. I tell you, it's a whole different sex! Joe: What are you afraid of? Nobody's asking you to have a baby.

Beinstock cautions Dolores (Beverly Wills) from telling the two straight-laced, 'Conservative-ory' additions a salacious joke ("rough talk") about a female tuba player who is stranded on a desert island with a one-legged jockey. After meeting the band members, Daphne objectifies and compares the train (wall-to-wall with gorgeous women) to an overflowing pastry shop full of sweets. [The metaphor that the sexy women are like food to be consumed began back at the train station, when they called 'Sugar' "Jell-o on springs", and it continues here in this dialogue, and will again reappear later]:

They proceed into the WOMEN's Room so Jerry can rearrange himself. Inside the Ladies Room, they re-encounter the blonde from the platform. The camera frames Sugar's gartered leg and hip as she pulls a hidden hip flask from her garter belt and swigs some bourbon. She sees them, hides the flask, and smiles guiltily - admitting that she is a lush who sneaks drinks because she is blue. "Running away," Sugar tells them her history of bad luck in everything ("the fuzzy end of the lollipop") - especially getting caught drinking:

Daphne: Terribly sorry. Sugar: That's OK. I was scared it was Sweet Sue. You won't tell anybody, will ya? Daphne: Tell what? Sugar: Well, if they catch me once more, they're gonna kick me out of the band. (She takes another swig.) You the replacement for the bass and sax? Daphne: That's us. And I'm Daphne and this is, uh, uh, Jo--sephine. Sugar: Come on. (She waves them in.) I'm Sugar Kane. Daphne: Hi. Josephine: Sugar Kane? Sugar: Yeah, I changed it. It used to be Sugar Kowalczyk. Daphne: Polish? Sugar: Yes, I come from this musical family. My mother is a piano teacher and my father was a conductor. Josephine: Where did he conduct? Sugar: On the Baltimore & Ohio. Daphne: Oh. Sugar: I play the ukulele and I sing too. Daphne: Sings too. (He laughs excitedly) Sugar: Well, I don't have much of a voice, but then this isn't much of a band either. I'm only with them because I'm running away. Josephine: Running away from what? Sugar: Oh, don't get me started on that. (She pours a drink) Here, you want some? (Daphne reaches out, but his bra starts to slip and he immediately retracts his arm.) It's bourbon. Daphne: I'll take a rain check. (He laughs) Sugar: I don't want you to think I'm a drinker. I can stop any time I want to - only I don't want to. Especially when I'm blue. Josephine: We understand. Sugar: All the girls drink, it's just that I'm the one who gets caught. The story of my life. I always get the fuzzy end of the lollipop. (She puts the flask back in her garter belt and turns her back to them, showing her legs off. They stare - transfixed by her.) My seams straight? Daphne: I'll say. (He giggles) Sugar: Well, I'll see you around, girls. (She leaves) Daphne: Bye, Sugar. (He laughs and turns to Joe.) We have been playing with the wrong band. Josephine: Down, Daphne. (He fixes Jerry's bra.) Daphne: How about the shape of that liquor cabinet, huh? Josephine: Forget it. One false move and they'll toss us off the train. Then, there'll be the police, the papers, and the mob in Chicago. Daphne: Boy, would I love to borrow a cup of that sugar. (He laughs at his own joke about consuming her.) Josephine: (grabbing his pal) Look, no pastry, no butter, and no Sugar! Daphne: (exasperated) You tore 'em again.

Believe it or not, there was once a time when movies about dudes dressing up as ladies weren't uniformly terrible. That time was 1959, and the movie was Some Like It Hot. Despite producing wretched offspring like Juwanna Mann and She's the Man, this screwball farce is hailed as a comedy classic -- indeed, according to some people, the greatest comedy in movie history. But why? How has it earned such a reputation? Let's fill a hot-water bottle with whiskey and investigate.

Two unemployed musicians in 1929 Chicago witness a mob hit and get out of town the only way they can: by disguising themselves as women and taking a gig in Florida with an all-girl jazz band. (What, you would do something else?)

Some Like It Hot was the highest-grossing comedy in movie history up to that point, and one of the top films of 1959 (after Ben-Hur and North by Northwest). Unlike some classics, its reputation as a great comedy emerged almost immediately, not years later. So while the film's cross-dressing premise and some of its plot points are as old as Shakespeare, it's fair to say that most men-in-drag comedies that came after Some Like It Hot were influenced by it.

Sometimes I think lists like the AFI's do more harm than good to a film's reputation. With Some Like It Hot at the top of the "funniest movies" list, someone watching it for the first time might do so expecting it to make him laugh more than any movie he's ever seen. That's a pretty tall order. You should not expect that.

The movie is packed with stuff like that. It's all about sex ... and the word "sex" is used only once, as a synonym for "gender." There is no profanity or nudity, of course. When Curtis jostles Lemmon and upsets his fake boobs, Lemmon calls them his "chests." (One assumes "breasts" would have been crossing the line.)

It's well known that when Curtis's character poses as a wealthy oil baron, he's impersonating Cary Grant. Grant was Tony Curtis' idol, as he discussed at length for this Turner Classic Movies tribute. Immediately after shooting Some Like It Hot, Curtis got to work with Grant in the comedy Operation Petticoat. Grant has been widely quoted as saying, "I don't sound like that!" when he saw Some Like It Hot, but you have to assume he took it all in good humor. 041b061a72


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