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Thread: Liking It Hot

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    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    Liking It Hot

    ...on the BBC list of 100 greatest comedies at #1: I heartily agree...I must have seen this film a dozen times and still (lol)...

    Why "Some Like It Hot" Is The Greatest Comedy Ever Made
    By Nicholas Barber

    In 1958, Tony Curtis was at a Hollywood party when Billy Wilder took him aside. Wilder was planning a film about two musicians who dress up as women to join an all-girl band, and he asked Curtis to play one of the musicians. Curtis was overjoyed, but he wasn’t sure why such an illustrious writer-director would want to use him. “You’re the handsomest kid in this town,” said Wilder. “Who else am I going to use?”

    Faced with the question of why Some Like It Hot has topped BBC Culture’s poll of the best ever big-screen comedies, it’s tempting to say something similar. Wilder’s glittering masterpiece doesn’t just use the handsomest kid in town (and a terrific actor, to boot), but its most radiant sex symbol, Marilyn Monroe, and one of its most dexterous comedians, Jack Lemmon. It also has a bevy of bathing beauties, a crowd of sinister mafiosi, a glamorous seaside setting in the roaring ‘20s, and a sizzling selection of songs.

    It’s an anthem in praise of tolerance, acceptance, and the possibility of transformation. It’s an anthem that we need to hear now more than ever.

    It is structured so meticulously that it glides from moment to moment with the elegance of an Olympic figure skater, and the consummate screwball dialogue, by Wilder and IAL Diamond, is so polished that every line includes either a joke, a double meaning, or an allusion to a line elsewhere in the film. To quote one character, it’s a riot of “spills, thrills, laughs and games”. To quote another, it deserves to be “the biggest thing since the Graf Zeppelin”. So why was it chosen as the best comedy ever made? Simple. What else were we going to choose?

    Desperate to elude Chicago’s most ruthless gangster, Joe (Curtis) and Jerry (Lemmon) disguise themselves as Josephine and Daphne (Credit: Alamy)

    There’s more to Some Like It Hot than its sparkling surface, though. As well as being a romantic comedy, a buddy movie, a crime caper, and a musical, the film is an anthem in praise of tolerance, acceptance, and the possibility of transformation. It’s an anthem that we need to hear now more than ever.
    Wilder borrowed the basic set-up from a French farce, Fanfare d’amour (1935), and a remake, Fanfaren der Liebe (1951), which he dismissed as “a very low-budget, very third-class German picture”. Its heroes are Joe (Curtis) and Jerry (Lemmon), a saxophonist and a bassist who are scraping a living in freezing Chicago when they witness 1929’s St Valentine’s Day Massacre – or a version of that legendary event at least.

    The pair join a female jazz orchestra, Sweet Sue’s Society Syncopators, in order to hide out in a Florida hotel for three weeks (Credit: Alamy)

    Desperate to elude the city’s most ruthless gangster, Spats Colombo (George Raft), they disguise themselves as Josephine and Daphne (“I’ve never liked the name Geraldine,” explains Jerry), so that they can hide in a Florida hotel for three weeks with a female jazz orchestra, Sweet Sue’s Society Syncopators. On the southbound sleeper train, they are both smitten by the band’s voluptuous ukulele player, Sugar Kane (Monroe). She tells Joe/Josephine that she is hoping to seduce a millionaire in Florida, so when the band arrives at the Seminole-Ritz Hotel (actually the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego), he switches to another disguise. Stealing some clothes from the band’s manager, and stealing his accent from Cary Grant, he styles himself as Junior, heir to the Shell Oil fortune.

    One of the film’s many twists is that when Sugar meets Junior on the beach, he doesn’t throw himself at her. He plays hard to get. Sugar tells him that her band specialises in hot jazz, but he sniffs, “Well, I guess some like it hot. But personally, I prefer classical music.” Sugar doesn’t miss a beat. She claims to have “spent three years at the Sheboygan Conservatory of Music” - a claim she overheard Joe/Josephine making the previous night. “Good school,” murmurs Joe/Junior. Sugar, he realises, is just as adept at lying as he is.

    Stealing his accent from Cary Grant, Joe styles himself as Junior, heir to the Shell Oil fortune, in order to woo Sugar (Monroe) (Credit: Alamy)

    Meanwhile, Jerry/Daphne has been inveigled into going out with an elderly - and presumably short-sighted - tycoon, Osgood (Joe E Brown), and their enchanted evening ends with another twist: in the morning, an elated Jerry tells Joe that he and Osgood are engaged. Joe protests that there are “laws, conventions” that have to be observed. But when Jerry finally admits to his fiancé that he is a man, Osgood responds with the film’s exemplary last line, “Well, nobody’s perfect.”
    ‘Sweet’ or ‘hot’

    In summary, Some Like It Hot is the story of people who lie and cheat in order to con other people into bed or out of their cash. Wilder has a reputation for dark, cynical films (see also Sunset Boulevard and Double Indemnity), and Some Like It Hot could be categorised as one of them. But it has so much warmth that it carries the viewer upwards like a hot-air balloon. Rather than condemning its unscrupulous anti-heroes, it respects them and sympathises with them in a way which must have seemed radical in 1959, and which seems more radical nearly six decades later.

    After an enchanted evening, Daphne (Lemmon) becomes engaged to elderly tycoon Osgood (Joe E Brown) (Credit: Alamy)

    The message is that there is nothing wrong with faking it until you make it. Experimenting with a new identity can help you become a better, happier person

    Just imagine how the film’s scenario would be treated in a Hollywood comedy today. Joe and Jerry would be punished for their deceit. Sugar would have to catch Joe out, and he would have to apologise, and the viewer would have to sit through a montage of their shared misery before she forgave him. He and Jerry would then use their talent for duplicity to extract a confession from Spats Colombo. And, of course, Jerry and Osgood’s heterosexuality would be vigorously reaffirmed. Think of Judd Apatow’s comedies, for example. They all conclude that it’s amusing for “laws, conventions” to be flouted for a while, just as long as they’re put firmly back in place before the end credits roll.

    Several of those involved in the film, such as Billy Wilder and Marilyn Monroe, had reinvented themselves, just as the characters do (Credit: Alamy)

    Some Like It Hot is too buoyant to be brought down to earth by such prissiness. When Sugar learns that Joe has been tricking her, she runs straight into his arms. When Osgood learns that Jerry has been tricking him, he doesn’t bat an eyelid. The message is that there is nothing wrong with faking it until you make it. Experimenting with a new identity can help you become a better, happier person. It can help you survive. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll find someone who accepts you for whomever you want to be - perfect or otherwise.
    It’s a boldly inclusive message, but it’s one that must have been close to the film-makers’ hearts. After all, several of them had reinvented themselves, just as the characters do: emigrating from Germany (in Wilder’s case) and Romania (in Diamond’s), distancing themselves from their hardscrabble pasts in Californian foster homes (in Monroe’s case) and on the streets of the Bronx (in Curtis’s). For a frantic farce about two cross-dressers on the run from prohibition-era mobsters, Some Like It Hot is a strikingly personal, even semi-autobiographical film.

    Its final line, “Well, nobody’s perfect”, highlights the film’s inclusive message (Credit: Alamy)

    Not even Twelfth Night or The Importance of Being Earnest had such elaborate fun with its characters’ identities

    Look again at the beach scene with Joe and Sugar. It was written by two men who were once called Samuel Wilder and Itec Domnici, and acted by a man and a woman who were once called Bernie Schwartz and Norma Jeane Mortenson. Schwartz, who renamed himself Tony Curtis, is playing Joe, who is pretending to be Junior, using the mid-Atlantic vowels of Cary Grant, who was once called Archibald Leach. Mortenson, who renamed herself Marilyn Monroe, is playing Sugar Kowalczyk, who renamed herself Sugar Kane, and who is using lines which Joe used when he was pretending to be Josephine. Not even Twelfth Night or The Importance of Being Earnest had such elaborate fun with its characters’ identities. Names, genders, social standings ... they can all change in Some Like It Hot. It’s the American way.

    In Curtis’s memoir about the making of the film, he confirms that Wilder and Diamond embedded this theme in its title. People, he argues, can be as fluid as the pop songs of the 1920s, which were performed in different styles - either “sweet” or “hot” - according to the audience’s preference. “The concept was important to our movie,” writes Curtis. “A person can be more than one thing, depending on the time, the place, whatever. Sweet or hot.”
    Majestically enthroned amid the vulgar herd

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomcat View Post
    I must have seen this film a dozen times and still (lol)
    Really? Surely seeing it once, enjoying it and so re-watching ten years later for nostalgia would have inurred you to all the gags?

    I think Robin Williams version of the Birdcage was warmly amusing, sometimes funny, and overall quite endearing, but I have seen it twice, so maybe never again, or maybe when at a loss for better options some time in the future...

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    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maanaam View Post
    Really?
    ...yes: I never tire of great performances, clever scripts and intelligent direction...
    Quote Originally Posted by Maanaam View Post
    I think Robin Williams version of the Birdcage was warmly amusing, sometimes funny, and overall quite endearing
    ...take a look at the French original: the US remake is a soggy biscuit by comparison...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maanaam View Post
    Really? Surely seeing it once, enjoying it and so re-watching ten years later for nostalgia would have inurred you to all the gags?..

    Manny, you'll realise when you get older that losing your memory has its uses. It enables me to increase the frequency with which i can enjoy me re-runs as if they are fresh out the box. But seriously, there is a marked difference between classic and Robin Williams.
    Last edited by NamPikToot; 20-10-2018 at 04:19 PM.

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    I like this take when Tony Curtis says that the kissing does not tell him anything, "Try again..."

    Junior: [Kissing] I think you're on the right track.
    Sugar: I must be. Your glasses are beginning to steam up.





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    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    ...^555...

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    ^^ Oh Yes, that was one of the most memorable parts of the movie for me too.

    I first watched the movie as a kid and then again some 30 years later and still remembered almost all of it...the only difference was watching it with an adult mind.

    That's what I call a great movie, loved every minute of it.

    I used it as a chat-up line on the Paddington->St Ives overnight run for several years, Towels across the 3x4 seats in 2nd class with the RN girls to Plymouth and Culdrose...

    ...such lovely memories...

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    Tomcat,you are on the money with this movie,watched it again a few weeks on tv.
    Perfect cast,script and the great Joe E Brown,10 out of 10 from me.

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    Marilyn Monroe had great tits and ass.

    Shame she never met me. It would have been historical.

    Orrens

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    Love it watch every few years
    The train scene rivals Marx Bros in the cabin.



    However I'd include a few others at the summit

    Philadelphia Story

    Withnail & I

    Life of Brian


    2 Way stretch

    The Blues Bros

    Planes Trains and Automobiles

    I think the best US comedy was the Odd couple

    and overall Withnall as so close to my own memories and locations and my old neighbout Jake the poacher aka Michael Elphick

    I used to have a job at a calendar factory.
    I got the sack because
    I took a couple of days off.

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    Withnall and I was based in Camden where I used to live and drink in the pubs including the Cider House which was on the way to Kentish Town.

    Its interesting to know the origins of a writers, musicians, films inspiration.

    Orrens

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    Quote Originally Posted by Orrens View Post
    Withnall and I was based in Camden where I used to live and drink in the pubs including the Cider House which was on the way to Kentish Town.

    Its interesting to know the origins of a writers, musicians, films inspiration.

    Orrens
    Was there in August many changes and full of tourists but still a great buzz

    Old mother long gone but pubs in Kentish Town still good too

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    The landlord of the Good Mixer died of cancer a few years back.
    Too many tourists. Too many Somali drug dealers.
    The pet shop that converted to a chinese jazz restaurant is still there.
    Its bittersweet going back. I wonder if I should do it to various locales before I up sticks.
    Whatever I do will be wrong.

    Orrens

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    Quote Originally Posted by tomcat View Post
    ..take a look at the French original: the US remake is a soggy biscuit by comparison...
    La Cage aux Folles?

    Watched today, French, gay and hilarious.

    "She was a prostitute........", "She was an underage prostitute.......", "She was a black underage prostitute. Oh la la".

    Thanks.

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