Billy Wilder’s 1959 romantic comedy, Some Like It Hot, opens in Chicago in February of ‘29. Joe (Tony Curtis) is saxophonist, a ladies man & always ready for good times. His best friend & roommate, Jerry (Jack Lemmon) the fiddle bass player, is more straight-laced. Their landlord & creditors are already on their tail when they’re caught accidentally witnessing the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre by the perpetrators, Spats Colombo (George Raft) & gang. After escaping the garage, they have to get out of town or suffer the same fate as Spats’ rivals. They dress in drag (Joe as Josephine & Jerry as Daphne) and join Sweet Sue (Joan Shawlee) & Her Society Syncopators, an all female band headed by train to Miami. The Syncopators features the sexy Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe) on vocals & ukulele. “When Sugar isn’t singing, the Syncopators play mainly fast music: Hot jazz. I guess some like it hot. Personally, I prefer Jerry.” Sugar Kane immediately sparks Joe’s interest but she thinks he’s a woman, so he has to take on a male role to romance her. He chooses to be oil heir, Junior, who looks, dresses, acts & especially sounds just like Cary Grant. Tony Curtis is Joe pretending to be Josephine pretending to be Cary Grant pretending to be Junior the oil baron. WHAT!!
The film won noted Costume Designer, Orry-Kelly, the Oscar for Black & White Costume Design in 1960 at the 32nd Academy Awards. Some Like It Hot was nominated for 5 additional Oscars: Black & White Art Direction; Black & White Cinematography; Jack Lemmon for Best Actor; Wilder for Director; and Wilder & I.A.L. Diamond for Adapted Screenplay.
The film is very risqué for 1959. It was the only movie that year to receive a Condemned rating by the now defunct Roman Catholic Legion of Decency. Marilyn is very scantily clad throughout the picture. You may notice that she is a bit chunky. She was pregnant during the filming. Marilyn, as documented in Simon Curtis’ My Week With Marilyn, was a dominating screen presence. She was, however, notoriously difficult to work with & needed many takes to get a scene right. This despite her being a Method actress who’s personal acting coach was Paula Strasberg, the second wife of the most famous Method teacher & proponent, Lee Strasberg, who you’ll remember as Hyman Roth in The Godfather Part II. Method Acting is a highly acknowledged & widely used process created by Russian stage actor & director Constantin Stanislavski. With The Method, the actor becomes the character in all aspects of his life, not just while rehearsing & filming. Famous proponents of The Method include Marlon Brando, Joaquin Phoenix, Daniel Day-Lewis & Dustin Hoffman. For his Oscar-winning performance as Lincoln, Day-Lewis made everyone including his family call him Mr. President or Mr. Lincoln 24/7. Ironically, Cary Grant (who, I’m sure you noticed, looks just like me) was one of the ‘50’s most vocal detractors of Method Acting. Remember, at that time, Brando’s career was meteoric! With Curtis as Cary Grant, Wilder seems to be hinting at a little inside joke about traditional actors chasing the new generation of Method Actors. But enough about me: Click the link below to watch the trailer, then head over to your local library to borrow a copy of Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot to see legendary Marilyn Monroe at her sexiest! 4 Stars!