Director: Billy Wilder
Reviewed: April 2010
Put simply, this film is a masterpiece. It is my first Marilyn Monroe film, as well as the first time I've ever seen Tony Curtis or a young Jack Lemmon. Some film lists have Some Like It Hot as the number one comedy of all-time, and I don't think that I can argue with that.
After witnessing the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago, Joe (Curtis) and Jerry (Lemmon), two musicians, decide to skip town in drag, joining lead singer Sugar (Marilyn Monroe) and her all-girls band who are traveling on a train from Chicago to Florida. Joe becomes Josephine; Jerry becomes Daphne because, "Well, I never did like the name Geraldine!" Hilarity ensues as they try to escape the mobsters that are following them, avoid detection while surrounded by women, as well as deal with their rivalry for Sugar's attentions.
Joe/Josephine eventually creates a third character, a Shell Oil tycoon to woo Sugar, using all of his inside knowledge to tell her exactly what she wants to hear. Meanwhile, Jerry/Daphne is relentlessly pursued by a real tycoon, entertaining thoughts of marriage and honeymoon with him. It becomes almost Shakespearean, with multiple costume and voice changes, and, of course, the mobsters are having their annual convention in the same hotel used by the girls/boys.
Some Like It Hot has probably the greatest closing line of all-time. Monroe is very good as the floozy Sugar: "I can stop drinking any time I want to, only I don't want to!" Additionally, Jack Lemmon is the find in this film. Lemmon seems to be having the most fun, contorting his face, giving Daphne a freedom and vivacity, and Wilder gives him enough time and opportunities to shine. The script is crisp, with sharp lines and careful structure. Curtis and Lemmon work well together; only one scene between Curtis and Monroe falls flat in today's world, not standing the test of time very well. The physical comedy--the hiding, the costume changes, the running through the hotel--is handled with dexterity.
In conclusion, I am now seeking out Jack Lemmon's early roles, as well as the films of the great director Billy Wilder. Some Like It Hot is a film that I wished that I had seen much earlier in my life. It is a wonderfully fun film, maybe the best of its kind.