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Wick's Review

Created Apr 12, 2014 12:11AM PST • Edited Mar 12, 2017 10:14PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Perfect 5.0

    Some Like It Hot kicked off the Sixties with a bang. Released in ‘59, it was nominated for six Oscars at the 1960 Academy Awards, winning only for Orry-Kelly’s dresses for Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and most especially Marilyn Monroe. Speaking of Monroe, she won the 1960 Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy. Lemmon won Best Actor. The movie won Best Comedy, and is still considered The Best Comedy.

    Here’s evidence: Marilyn climbs into Lemmon’s bunk – him pretending to be a woman – in a sidesplittingly funny bit that is a moviestar supernova scene to boot. He’s priceless, she’s incandescent and inimitable.

    Tony Curtis & Jack Lemmon appear in heels 24 minutes in. Marilyn Monroe appears one minute later. Twenty-five minutes in and it’s on. The movie’s serious as the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre up to then. From that point on, it’s funnier than hell. AFI named it the greatest American Comedy Ever in 2000. Have any topped it since? Forgetting Sarah Marshall perhaps. But I’m still inclined to favor Some Like It Hot.

    Funny? Consider these lines uttered by two members of an all-female band on a midnight train to Florida.

    Got a corkscrew?
    No, but Stella has.

    IOW, a bunch of hotties are romping in their PJs. Tony Curtis & Jack Lemmon are in drag. Now add booze. Later, when you see a huge Happy Birthday! Spats cake, you know someone is bound to jump out of it.

    Marilyn squeals “Wait for Sugar!” near the glorious end, one more perfect line from the ultimate moviestar.

    Speaking of perfect, “Nobody’s perfect” is the final line. But that’s not true. It’s just another glorious lie. Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis & Jack Lemmon are perfect in Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot.

  3. Perfect 5.0

    Marilyn Monroe’s Sugar “Kane” Kowalczyk, ukulele player and singer, was a veiled version of Marilyn herself, alcoholism included. It was one of her last roles, when she was already very difficult. How difficult? The trivia cataloged at IMDb give a sense. She’s still magic, deserving of her Golden Globe.

    Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon are perfect as tenor sax and jazz bass players respectively. Player, playa both of them. Forced to hightail it out of Al Capone’s Chicago, they dress in drag and travel with a bunch of hot dames, Marilyn Monroe among them. Think that’ll work for a movie?

    Curtis didn’t get a golden trophy, perhaps because he’s too pretty, especially in a dress and with lipstick. Then he borrows a millionaire’s yacht, declares himself Shell Oil Junior and famously imitates Cary Grant, as shown nearby. BTW, Cary Grant’s reputed response – “I don’t talk like that.” – suggests self-knowledge was in short supply then as now in Hollywood.

    Jack Lemmon is the greatest comedic actor Hollywood has ever produced. Who’s greater? Tom Hanks – timelessly great as he is – barely equals Lemmon, who remains the benchmark for funny movie acting. Witness his conniptions when Marilyn Monroe climbs in his bunk while he’s dressed in drag. Golden Globe? How about a Golden Star trophy for Best Acting in a Comedy.


    • George Raft as “Spats” Colombo, a Hollywoodized Al Capone, the man who ordered the real Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre. Raft traded on his movie stardom with gangsters in his real life. Now that’s keeping it real.
    • Mike Mazurki & Harry Wilson as Spats’ henchman, and man, do they look the part!
    • George E. Stone as “Toothpick” Charlie, a gangster killed at the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre. In real life, that was Goosey Gusenberg.
    • Nehemiah Persoff as “Little Bonaparte,” a mobster
    • Pat O’Brien as Detective Mulligan. O’Brien was in more than 100 movies.
    • Joe E. Brown as a millionaire with the hots for Lemmon’s female alter ego.
    • Joan Shawlee as Sweet Sue, bandleader of Sweet Sue and Her Society Syncopators. Tough Dame
    • Dave Barry as Mister Beinstock, the band manager for Sweet Sue and Her Society Syncopators. Sweet Sue is always yelling “BEANSTALK!!”
    • Beverly Wills as Dolores, a trombone player, and Sugar’s apartment friend
    • Billy Gray as Curtis and Lemmon’s agent in Chicago, with Barbara Drew as his secretary
    • Edward G. Robinson Jr. as Johnny Paradise, the gangster who flips a coin dismissively in front of “Spats” Colombo and later kills him in spectacular fashion. Notice the Jr. after his name. This Hollywood scion was one of Marilyn’s lovers, part of the reason his career is described as Playboy as much as Actor.
  4. Male Stars Perfect 5.0
  5. Female Stars Perfect 5.0
  6. Female Costars Great 4.0
  7. Male Costars Perfect 5.0
  8. Really Great 4.5

    Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot remains the greatest comedic accomplishment in silver screen history. Among its benchmarks, it was perhaps the first comedy to start off deadbang serious, for over the first 20 minutes. Later action-comedies would follow this now common template, 48 Hours being a prime example.

    Oscar for Orry Kelly’s costumes, which included dresses literally sewn-on Marilyn Monroe, along with frocks for Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon.

    No closing credits on Netflix. What’s up with that?

  9. Direction Perfect 5.0
  10. Play Great 4.0

    Script by I. A. L. Diamond, who wrote 11 screenplays for and with Billy Wilder.

  11. Music Perfect 5.0
  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0

    The Florida luxury hotel is actually the Hotel del Coronado on San Diego Bay.

  13. Content
  14. Risqué 2.2

    Violence that reaches higher on its scale than Sex or Rudeness has become the action-comedy template.

    Sex wise, Marilyn assures a bodacious amount of titillation simply by appearing in low cut, sheer dresses. More interesting is that she tries to arouse Tony Curtis simply by kissing him on the lips. No tongue, no hands, nothing below the neck. Imagine if they remade it today. #!&%##@#

  15. Sex Titillating 2.2
  16. Violence Brutal 2.6
  17. Rudeness Salty 1.9
  18. Glib 1.3

    The first reel purports to show the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre, with names changed to protect the guilty.

    Of more interest is that a movie about two heterosexual guys who cross-dress never uses the terms heterosexual or cross-dressing, let alone transvestite or homosexual. Gay marriage? Some Like It Hot dances right through gay marriage territory and yet never comes within a million miles of mentioning it. Consider it an object lesson on the social change of the past half century.

  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.9
  20. Biological Natural 1.0
  21. Physical Natural 1.0


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