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My (Slightly More Than) Month with Marilyn: Some Like It Hot (1959)

We’re winding down in our Month with Marilyn (that’s gone on far longer than the allotted time) and we’re coming up to the last five entries (3 movies, my review of My Week with Marilyn, and an overall wrap-up).  After that it’s up to you what I cover so send me suggestions…Do you want more classic reviews, more modern, what movies?  I have a bunch of reviews already written that I’ll be dispatching here and there but send me in what you want to read!

Tonight’s film is one of my favorite movies directed by Billy Wilder who we saw just a few days ago with The Seven Year Itch.  I’d say this is one the movies Marilyn is most known for it, and it’s responsible for starting the slew of cross-dressing comedies we’ve seen so yes you can blame this for Big Momma’s House and its ilk.  There are similiar tropes used in this movie that we saw in Seven Year Itch but I adore this movie for its sweet story and hilarious comedy.  It’s a classic, there’s no doubt, it’s Some Like It Hot!

Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) are musicians who witness the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre.  In order to escape they take a job in an all-girls band that forces them to dress as women.  Becoming Josephine and Daphne respectively, they get into more trouble when Joe falls for the beautiful Sugar (Marilyn) who only wants to marry a wealthy man, while Jerry attracts the eye of wealthy playboy Osgood Fielding III (Joe E. Brown).

There’s so many great things about this movie!  Many people cite the typical problem with this movie: it’s too hard to believe these men could pass as women.  Don’t get me wrong, Curtis and Lemmon don’t look like girls but thus the reason they filmed in black and white…in color they looked horrible!  The black and white softens everything and ultimately makes the men look like rather ugly girls, but girls for the most part.  The majority of their scenes has them covered in clothes and makeup and you’re so busy laughing you don’t even notice.  Their dueling relationships provide equal hilarity.  The obvious thing would be to make them compete for Sugar, but instead they abandon that quickly in favor of splitting with Joe putting on the guise of a wealthy Shell Oil heir who speaks like Cary Grant.  I digress, but having seen so many Cary Grant movies now I laugh every time Curtis puts on that clipped accent of Grant’s.

The relationship between Osgood and Jerry is my personal favorite, there’s so many hilarious sequences and lines.  Most people have seen the tango scene with the switching rose and of course there’s the “nobody’s perfect” line at the end.  My personal favorite line in that ending sequence is when Jerry, trying to let Osgood down gently says, “I can never have children.”  Osgood’s reply is simply “We can adopt some.”  The movie plays on notions of gender roles and flirts with the highly taboo idea of homosexuality and yet Osgood and Jerry’s relationship is so sweet you desperately want it to work out, for them to get married and honeymoon as planned.  If anything this is the movie that should be presented in favor of gay marriage!

Marilyn’s role is different from that of The Girl from The Seven Year Itch.  The Girl seemed far more aware of the situation between her and Mr. Sherman.  As Sugar she’s still aware, but it’s awareness that she’s dumb and has terrible luck with men.  Marilyn falls back comfortably into the breathy, dumb blonde role we’ve seen her break away from.  She’s simpler and stupider than the Girl or even Elsie from the Prince and the Showgirl.  She’s still fantastic with great chemistry between her and Curtis, but she’s capable of more.  There’s also the return of musical numbers that she actually sings.  What I found interesting is the costuming in this movie.  Sure Marilyn was no stranger to nudity and showing off her body but the gowns in this movie are borderline strips of fabric and we’re not even into the 60s!  The dress above is a perfect example, I mean the only thing holding up her boobs is sheer gravity.  I know she had a special costume designer but I just don’t understand what we’re trying to accomplish outside of sheer titillation (sorry!).

The gangster storyline is a bit boring, especially when the two warring parties start killing each other towards the end, but that’s really the only problem I have with this movie and it’s miniscule.  Some Like It Hot is a classic and everyone needs to see it!

Grade: A

Kristen Lopez View All

A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.

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