Jazz, Booze, and Drag – Some Like it Hot!

 

The Comedy Classic Some Like It Hot (1959)

BACK IN THEATERS JUNE 11th and 14th

 

Experience one of Marilyn Monroe’s most iconic roles as it was always meant to be seen.

Special commentary from TCM host Tiffany Vazquez.

 

Some Like It Hot

 

TCM Big Screen Classics Presents

Some Like It Hot (1959)

With no money and nowhere to hide, two down on their luck jazz musicians (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) masquerade as members of an all-girl band, leading to a number of romantic complications when one falls for the band’s lead singer (Sugar Cane) played by Marilyn Monroe.

 

some like it hot

Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe

 

Some Like It Hot is a 1959 American romantic comedy film set in 1929, directed and produced by Billy Wilder, starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon. The supporting cast includes George Raft, Pat O’Brien, Joe E. Brown, Joan Shawlee, and Nehemiah Persoff.

 

 

The plot is based on a screenplay by Billy Wilder and Michael Logan from the French film Fanfare of Love. The film is about two musicians who dress in drag in order to escape from mafia gangsters whom they witnessed commit a crime inspired by the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre. The film was produced in black and white, even though color films were increasing in popularity. (Wikipedia)

 

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Some Like It Hot opened to largely positive reviews and is today considered to be one of the greatest film comedies of all time. It was voted as the top comedy film by the American Film Institute on their list on AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Laughs poll in 2000. The film is also notable for featuring cross-dressing, and for playing with the idea of homosexuality, which led to it being produced without approval from the Motion Picture Production Code.

The code had been gradually weakening in its scope during the early 1950s, due to increasing social tolerance for previously taboo topics in film, but it was still officially enforced. The overwhelming success of Some Like It Hot was a final nail in the coffin for the Hays Code. (Wikipedia)

 

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I love Billy Wilder because of his versatility in films and his testing the boundaries of societal norms. To that end, the first movie that always comes to mind is “Some Like it Hot”. To find out more about Billy Wilder and his films, check out my post – The Faces Behind the Camera.

 

Billy Wilder

Billy Wilder

 

I highly recommend taking advantage of this opportunity to see “Some Like it Hot” on the big screen!

Get tickets here.

 

Some Like it Hot! (1959)

Billy Wilder is one of my favorite directors because he’s not afraid to tackle controversial subject matters like alcoholism, adultery, and sexuality. His 1959 film Some Like it Hot is a fantastic example!  I love this film not only because it’s hilarious and Marilyn Monroe is at the height of her sexiness, but it addresses the issues of gender roles, cross-dressing and gay marriage head on!

United Artists released Wilder’s Prohibition-era farce Some Like It Hot without a Production Code seal of approval, withheld due to the film’s unabashed sexuality including a central cross-dressing theme.

 

 

Okay, so here’s the set-up:

2 speakeasy musicians (Joe and Jerry) in 1920’s Chicago witness the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Obviously  – that’s a problem. Busted by the hitmen they try to talk their way out of the situation. However, the gangsters ain’t havin’ it so they do the next best thing – Run!

Okay, so now what? Go drag, book a gig with the all-girl band Sweet Sue and her Society Syncopaters. Hey, it could happen.

 

Introducing Josephine and Daphne

 

Now, let’s meet Joe and Jerry

somelikeithotjoeandgerry

Jerry: You’d bet my money on a dog? Joe: He’s a shoo-in. Max the waiter knows the electrician that wires the rabbit.

 

Joe ( Tony Curtis) is a saxophone playing womanizer who’s borrowed money from every girl on the chorus line at the speakeasy. Jerry (Jack Lemmon) plays the upright bass and is Joe’s best friend. Although tired of Joe’s crap, he covets his prowess with women while simultaneously desiring a stable relationship of his own.

Their bond is put to the test when Joe (as Josephine) zeros in on Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe) and her strut when they arrive at the train station. Sugar plays ukulele and sings with Sweet Sue (Joan Shawlee) and the Syncopaters. By the time they arrive at their destination in Florida, Joe has sweet talked his way into Sugar’s life and is bound and determined to have a taste. Daphne (Jerry) on the other hand has a different experience; dealing with his jealousy of Joe and Sugar’s relationship while maneuvering the advances and courtship of much-married and aging millionaire, Osgood Fielding III (Joe E. Brown).

First of all, Joe E. Brown is a scream! Second of all, check out his career along with this performance.

 

 

And here we go – into the land of whoa, stuff we don’t talk about in 1959 and are really just scratching the surface of today:

Cross Dressing: Designer Orry-Kelly won an Oscar for Best Costume Design for his work. Seeing Marilyn’s gowns, Curtis and Lemmon insisted on wearing Kelly’s designs as well to make them look good as females. They played it straight as Josephine and Daphne which I believe gave weight and merit to the film. They may have looked good, but Marilyn was hot! As a young girl, I went, yes – one day I wanna rock a dress like that!

 

Gender Roles: Challenging what is deemed to be male/female expectations. By embracing their personas, Joe and Jerry learn from Sugar and Osgood what it means to walk in another woman’s shoes and deal with the complexities of being a woman in a man’s world.

 

Gay Marriage: The right to love for love’s sake. This is undoubtedly my favorite scene!

Joe to Jerry/Daphne – “It’s just not being done.”

“I’m a Boy”

 

This final scene is pure – Subversive Brilliance!

Despite Joe’s argument to Jerry and Jerry’s argument to Osgood about how outrageous their marriage would be – in the end, love will not be denied.

 

Billy Wilder, the Austrian-born American filmmaker is regarded as one of the most brilliant and versatile filmmakers of Hollywood’s golden age. Wilder is one of only five people to have won Academy Awards as a producer, director and screenwriter for the same film (The Apartment). The American Film Institute has ranked these four Wilder films among their top 100 American films of the 20th century:

In 2001, AFI selected Some Like It Hot as the number one comedy film of all time.

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Billy Wilder

 

Thank you, Billy Wilder for directing, producing and writing this screenplay. Art should be provocative, revolutionary; pushing the conversation forward. Humor and politics are not mutually exclusive. Question what is accepted. Fight for what is right.