Top 100 Films #60 – Some Like It Hot (1959)


some-like-it-hot-di#60. Some Like It Hot (1959)
Directed by: Billy Wilder
Written by: Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond (story by Robert Thoeren, Michael Logan)
Starring: Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, Marilyn Monroe, George Raft, Joe E. Brown

Billy Wilder’s trailblazing comedy Some Like It Hot is regarded as one of the all-time great screen comedies, and for good reason.  Wilder’s uproarious 1959 film stars Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis as Jerry and Joe, or Daphne and Josephine respectively.  The two men are on the lamb after accidentally bearing witness to the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, and have decided to take refuge with a train full of female musicians.  In order to blend in more, the two decide to dress in drag so as not to raise suspicion.  Along the way they meet Sugar (Marilyn Monroe), whom Joe immediately falls for, and a wealthy man named Osgood Fielding III (Joe E. Brown), who falls for Jerry’s Daphne.  The film’s premise has been spoofed countless times, and several loose remakes have even been attempted, but not a single adaptation has ever managed to match the magic of Some Like It Hot.  It’s a progressive film with both bite and heart – something that Billy Wilder managed to do time and time again.  The script co-written by Wilder and longtime collaborator I.A.L. Diamond is intelligent in its use of the idea of two men in drag, and even goes as far as exploring themes of sexuality and homosexuality – a rarity for films of the era.  Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis have tremendous on-screen chemistry, and play off each other well as Daphne and Josephine.  Jack Lemmon’s reluctant relationship with Joe E. Brown’s Osgood is perfect, but Tony Curtis’ Josephine falling for the beautiful Sugar is the highlight of Some Like It Hot.  The film was nominated for a slew of Academy Awards, including Best Director (Billy Wilder), Best Actor (Jack Lemmon), and Best Screenplay (Wilder & Diamond), but was beaten out by films like Ben-Hur and Pillow Talk.  Some Like It Hot’s most famous moment comes in its final minute, where Joe E. Brown’s Osgood tells Jack Lemmon’s Daphne “nobody’s perfect” after finding out that Daphne is a man. The moment is brilliant, progressive, and hilarious, and furthers Some Like It Hot as one of the cinema’s greatest comedies.

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