Regularly voted the best comedy of all time, Billy Wilder’s filmSome Like It Hotis among the handful of films that genuinely deserves the sobriquet ‘classic’. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis are Jerry and Joe, two itinerant musicians who have the misfortune to witness the St Valentine’s Day Massacre conducted by Spats Colombo (George Raft, sending himself up a treat). Realising their lives are at risk, they disguise themselves as Daphne and Josephine in order to join an all-girl band heading for Florida. On the train, they meet the band’s singer, Sugar Kane Kowalczyk (Marilyn Monroe) and Joe falls head over heels for her.
Once in Florida, he woos her as Junior, heir to an oil empire, illicitly using the yacht owned by millionaire Osgood Fielding III (satchel-mouthed Joe E Brown) as bait just as Osgood is falling for Daphne. Then, just as Joe’s plans seem to be working and Daphne announces her engagement to Osgood (one of the film’s many highlights), the hotel they’re in hosts the Friends of Italian Opera AGM – a front for the meeting of the Mafia from around the country hosted by Little Bonaparte (Nehmiah Persoff) – who ain’t happy with Spats. And once again, Jerry and Joe are witness to a massacre – can they escape with the girl and their lives?
The making of the film is the stuff of Hollywood legend. Among the tales to come from the set
Monroe needed over 80 takes for the line ‘Where’s that bourbon?’ An exasperated Wilder taped the line to the drawer she opened. At the next take, she opened the wrong drawer so he had it taped into each and every drawer.
The film is shot in black and white because the Curtis and Lemmon’s ‘girl’ make-up showed up as green in colour.
Curtis, as Junior, took off Cary Grant’s accent, who, on seeing the film, said, ‘I don’t talk like that!’ Generations of fans disagree.
When Daphne announces her engagement to Osgood to Josephine, their lines are interspersed by Daphne’s bursts of maraca-shaking – these were inserted by Wilder, who didn’t want the anticipated laughs covering back-and-forth gags.
The famous last line, ‘Well, nobody’s perfect’ was written by Diamond the night before shooting finished.
Curtis said kissing Monroe was like kissing Hitler, a comment he later retracted.
Among those first considered for the leading roles were Mitzi Gaynor, Danny Kaye and Bob Hope.
Raft makes two references to gangster films, once asking a hood where he got his ‘cheap’ coin-flicking trick, Raft’s very act in Scarface, and secondly pushing a grapefruit into one of his hood’s faces, a reference to James Cagney in Public Enemy.
USA / 122 minutes / 1959
Writers:Billy Wilder, I A L Diamond, from Robert Theorn and M Logan’s story,
Marilyn Monroe as Sugar Kane Kowalczyk
Tony Curtis as Joe (Josephine)
Jack Lemmon as Jerry (Daphne)
George Raft as Spats Colombo
Pat O’Brien as Det. Mulligan
Joe E. Brown as Osgood Fielding III
Nehemiah Persoff as Little Bonaparte
Joan Shawlee as Sweet Sue
Billy Gray as Sig Poliakoff
George E. Stone as Toothpick Charlie
Dave Barry as Beinstock
Mike Mazurki as Spats’ henchman
Harry Wilson as Spats’ Henchman
Beverly Wills as Dolores
Barbara Drew as Nellie
Edward G. Robinson Jr. as Johnny Paradise
Brandon Beach as Party Guest (uncredited)
Marian Collier as Olga (uncredited)
Pat Comiskey as Spats’ Henchman (uncredited)
James Dime as Gangster Convention Greeter (uncredited)
Duke Fishman as Gangster at Convention (uncredited)
Paul Frees as Funeral Director / Speakeasy Waiter (voice) (uncredited)
Jack Gordon as Gangster with Charlie (uncredited)
Joe Gray as Mobster at Banquet (uncredited)
Harold ‘Tommy’ Hart as Official #2 (uncredited)
William Hoehne Jr. as Policeman (uncredited)
John Indrisano as Waiter (uncredited)
Tom Kennedy as Bouncer (uncredited)
Jack Mather as Small Role (uncredited)
Laurie Mitchell as Small Role (uncredited)
Joe Palma as Small Role (uncredited)
Scott Seaton as Old Man (uncredited)
Fred Sherman as Drunk (uncredited)
Carl Sklover as Small Role (uncredited)
Bert Stevens as Speakeasy Patron (uncredited)
Ralph Volkie as Small Role (uncredited)
Tito Vuolo as Mozzarella (uncredited)
Sandra Warner as Emily (uncredited)
Billy Wayne as Small Role (uncredited)
Grace Lee Whitney as Rosella (uncredited)
Edwin Rochelle as Chef (uncredited)
Frank McLure as Speakeasy Patron (uncredited)
Steve Carruthers as Hotel Guest (uncredited)
Arthur Tovey as Speakeasy Patron (uncredited)
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