I would never have believed that they made such films in the 50s! Prejudices, you say? Probably… At the same time, I should have expected it with such a title: Some Like It Hot.
Chicago, 1929. It all starts fairly badly in the midst of prohibition: two jazzmen, Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon), get caught in a revenge attack and find themselves forced to flee in order to avoid getting killed. Pretending to be women, they join an all-female band setting off for Miami. As you can imagine, the two friends will soon fall for the musician and singer Sugar Cane (Marilyn Monroe, of course) and compete for her love. But they shouldn’t forget that quite a few mafia gangsters want them dead and won’t give up that easily…
Some Like It Hot is a real romantic comedy, all about dressing up, pretending, flirting, competition, friendship and, let’s say it, sex. Although it might seem light at first glance, it also tackles deeper and more sensitive subjects such as identity, gender, homosexuality, the place of women in the society and male gaze.
Through being confronted to a woman’s daily life, Joe and Jerry realise how hard it can be to be constantly stared at, to « have to » be sweet and subjected to men’s desire. At first, the movie is all about stereotypes and fun, but it does have some nuances, and we discover, little by little, that everything’s not black and white – no pun intended.
Sugar Cane is the perfect example of this ambiguity: the cliché of the blonde who cannot stop falling in love with the wrong men… but the more we learn about her, the more we feel that there is more to her than just her looks. It also applies to Marilyn Monroe. Sure, she was a sex-symbol. But she was also a great actress, who played her role seamlessly, as if it were completely natural, without forgetting to add layers to her character.
On top of the great actors, there is great music! If you like jazz and ukulele, go ahead!
To sum up, Some Like It Hot is a must-see, a bit surprising, I have to say, but delightful, witty, and even absurd at times. It also spurs to think about how things have changed – or not – in over half a century.
Of course, I invite you to do your own research on this iconic movie that has influenced many others and remains a reference when it comes to cinema… There is so much to discover about it!
About the movie
Country: United States
Director: Billy Wilder
Release date: March 29, 1959
Running time: 121 minutes
Starring: Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, George Raft, Joe E. Brown, Pat O’Brien
Source of the picture: Heritage Auctions