Tuesday, March 29, 2011

some like it hot

March 29, 1959:  Some Like It Hot released.

Growing up in the 1980s what I knew about Marilyn Monroe, I knew from Madonna's re-interpretation of her.  It was, to say the least, an incomplete education.  It wasn't until my early 20s when I saw How to Marry a Millionaire, The Seven Year Itch and Some Like it Hot in quick succession that I finally understood what the big deal is.  She's beautiful, yes, but it's her vulnerability that comes through in the films.  And her magnetism.  Once she's in a scene you cannot take your eyes off her and she was never more luminous or lovable than she was as Sugar Kane Kowalczyk  in Some Like It Hot. (And won a Golden Globe for her trouble)

While the final product is a masterpiece of farce, shooting with Marilyn was notoriously difficult to the extent that director Billy Wilder had to paste her lines on set pieces. But as he himself said, "My Aunt Minnie would always be punctual and never hold up production, but who would pay to see my Aunt Minnie?"

Some like it Hot is much, much more than a Marilyn Monroe vehicle.  Tony Curtis gamely jumps between a cross-dressing saxophonist and his best Cary Grant impression.  And, of course, Jack Lemmon creates one of his (or anyone else's) most indelible comic characters. (And also took home the Golden Globe.)  He famously closes the movie with the line "Nobody's perfect." but this film very nearly is.

Trivia: Marilyn Monroe's contract stipulated that all her films were to be in color but since the makeup Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon wore gave their faces a green tinge, she was convinced to shoot in black and white.

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