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Some Like It Hot

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Some Like It Hot

Starring: Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis
Director: Billy Wilder
Rated: NR
RunTime: 122 Minutes
Release Date: March 1959
Genres: Classic, Comedy, Music

*Also starring: Jack Lemmon, George Raft, Pat O'Brien, Joe E. Brown, Nehemiah Persoff, Joan Shawlee, Billy Gray

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Andrew Hicks review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewmovie review
2.  Brian Koller read the review movie reviewmovie review

Review by Andrew Hicks
4 stars out of 4

The Billy Wilder romantic comedy factory reached a climax with SOME LIKE IT HOT, a delightful transvestite farce that features a gorgeous and charming Marilyn Monroe. The beauty of these Wilder films is that they push the envelope so much from the usual "Leave it to Beaver" fluff of the '50s. Every one of these comedies involves premarital or extramarital sex, or the desire thereof, as part of its plot. While most other films ignored this very human distinction, Wilder turns it into great entertainment that still seems more or less wholesome.

Who else in the '50s exemplifies the dichotomy between sex and wholesomeness than Monroe? The woman posed for Playboy and slept with the president but still seems like such an innocent child, especially here. As the victim of countless deceptions and advances from men, she comes out naive and making the same mistakes over and over again. We sympathize with her from the beginning, although we completely understand Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon's desire to score with her. I mean, she's Marilyn Monroe!

Like the other Wilder comedies, SOME LIKE IT HOT has an elaborate, almost-epic set-up. This almost seems like two movies in one. We first see a car chase between the cops and a bunch of mobsters with bootlegged liquor, then a wild party thrown by gang leader Spats (Edward G. Robinson) that is broken up by the police. Curtis and Lemmon are two members of the band playing the shindig, and barely escape arrest.

The next day, Curtis and Lemmon are at the music agency looking for work and find the only opening available is a three-week gig in Florida for two musicians that play the same instruments they do. But it's an all-female band, so they instead decide to head upstate for a low-paying gig. In the parking garage, there are Raft and his boys deciding one of their own has ratted them out to the police. Raft kills one of them just as Curtis and Lemmon walk in. Again, they barely escape capture.

This added element -- the mob wanting them dead -- is enough to make the two musicians put on dresses and high heels and join the girls band. As with any movie cross-dressers, they look nothing like the opposite sex, but we have to suspend our disbelief enough to accept that no one else can see through this disguise, least of all Monroe who, as the band's singer Sugar, is a dim-bulb and an alcoholic. In these surroundings, Lemmon says he feels "like a kid in a candy store."

Curtis and Lemmon both begin pursuit of Monroe, in and out of drag. Curtis, after a girl-to-girl talk with Monroe about what she's looking for in a man, masquerades as a visiting millionaire. Meanwhile, Lemmon has a lusty old man to contend with. This being the '50s, the only goal of any of these women is to get married. After the old guy proposes to Lemmon, Lemmon considers going through with it because he probably won't ever get another chance to marry someone that rich.

Lines like that show that the film has intelligence and social insight to go with the laughs. SOME LIKE IT HOT is the best Wilder film, with wonderful performances by the three leads and other minor characters and great writing. Not only is there a treasure trove of classic lines, the plot is also brilliantly constructed. I can't name a single bad thing about this film, except for the fact that it seems sexist now. I can only wonder what Monroe could have accomplished in a liberated world.

Copyright 1997 Andrew Hicks

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