Ingen er fuldkommen
Comedies do not age well. Sadly, really, because I love good comedies. It is something about the cultural references that change over time, I suppose. It is one reason the List is so thin on comedies. Most comedies that do survive are those that rely on physical comedy, such as the silent masters or Tati.
This is why I am super delighted that “Some Like It Hot” comes a long and proves the exception to the rule. It is not a physical comedy (not at heart at least), but more of a situational comedy, thick with wonderful dialogue. It is a comedy that is funnier than most comedies made today and immensely more charming. “Nobody is perfect” but “Some Like It Hot” is damn close.
Okay, I think I made it clear that I love this movie. It is an absolute bliss to watch and it totally makes me crack. Not just the happy, fuzzy smile, but the Oh-God-I-Cannot-Watch-He Did-Not-Do-That roaring laughter. Man, I needed that. Those last few weeks have been terribly busy and this movie is the second best medicine (getting less busy is after all the best). In fact I would prescribe this movie to anybody with any sort of trouble.
If you do not know this movie I will personally spank you. Even I knew it and not just of it. “Some Like It Hot” defines a classic movie on par with “Gone with the Wind” and the Indiana Jones movies and a synopsis would be a waste of time.
Here is instead all the wonderful things this movie provides.
Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe is career defining roles. As a trio they are just perfect. Tony as Joe/Josephine is the guy with all the harebrained scams and Jack Lemmon as Jerry/Daphne has that perfectly timed wackiness that makes him wonderfully funny without going over the (Jerry Lewis) top. In fact, they accomplish successfully what Martin and Lewis tried and failed to be. And Marilyn Monroe is of course the star. If you ever wondered about her reputation and “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” did not convince you then “Some Like It Hot” will. She is perfect as the silly, but sweet blonde bombshell. If anything she is almost too good for the band she is supposed to sing in. I would have liked to say that her comedic timing was perfect, but I read that she was so high on pills that she could not remember her lines and her scenes had to be taken dozens of times to get them right. Sad, really. Wikipedia writes that when Billy Wilder was asked about another movie with Monroe he answered: "I have discussed this with my doctor and my psychiatrist and they tell me I'm too old and too rich to go through this again."
Billy Wilder of course has a large share in this movie. He is one of my favorite directors and certainly one of the most versatile. He excels at every genre and his trademark is that his movies always have bite. Even “Some Like It Hot”. It went far beyond the production code in what you could show, say and do. Cross dressing, hints at homosexuality and a Monroe so hot that she could wake a dead, which is incidentally what she is supposed to do (Tony Curtis in his third incarnation as the emotionally crippled Shell heir). Wilder always challenged his viewers and never followed the standard recipes. That makes him a star in my eyes.
Then there is the music, oh boy. As the music is supposed to take place in the late twenties we get a jazzy score that is warm and fuzzy throughout, but when Monroe gives her songs we go a notch up and hit the roof. All her songs in this movie are classics, none more than “I Wanna Be Loved by You” but it is “I’m Thru with Love” that swipes my feet away. It is no wonder Joe/Josephine gives up her pretense and goes up to kiss her right there and then. I would want to do that.
I was trying to think of the funniest part in the movie, but gave up. There are just too many candidates. There are chase scenes, pretense scene, witty comments scenes, outrageous scam scenes, awkwardness galore… just too many to mention, and the crazy thing is they all work, even today. “Tootsie” owes a lot to this movie and any comedian on the run from the mob plot derive from “Some Like It Hot”. This may well be one of the most influential comedies ever made, if not the funniest.
1959 is a great year so far, I love it already.