Some Like It Hot (1959) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Some Like It Hot (1959) stars Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis (for you younger readers, he is Jamie Lee's dad), but Marilyn Monroe stole every moment she was on camera. Marilyn's costumes were very daring for 1959, and include a sheer bodice dress with spangles to almost hide her nipples, and a 20's style bathing costume that she manages to poke through.

Curtis and Lemmon play two musicians who witness the St. Valentines Day Massacre, and join an all-female band headed for Florida. Marilyn is a vocalist, uke player, and lush, who has a weakness for sax players. and wants to marry a rich man in Florida. The scripting by director/author Billy Wilder is tight, and includes some classic lines. My favorite is when Marilyn as Sugar Kane says, "That's the story of my life. I always get the fuzzy end of the lollypop." Parts of the film are pure slapstick, but it never degrades into silliness.

The filming was not without problems. Marilyn was difficult, arriving on set when and if she felt like it, sometimes able to work, and sometimes not. Meanwhile, Lemmon and Curtis had to wait around in drag, and sometimes do endless takes. Her performance, however, is brilliant. Nobody before or since could ooze so much sex appeal and starry-eyed innocence at the same time. 
The DVD has interviews, including one with Tony Curtis, and is a very good letterbox transfer of this B&W film. For those who have seen the film, I know you will want to rent this new DVD. For those who have never seen it, it is a social and cultural imperative.  


Scoopy's notes in yellow:

It may have been the best film of that year, but it had about as much chance at the Oscar as the equally brilliant South Park in our era. Things haven't changed that much in the past four decades. As is typical with great comedies, Some Like It Hot was not even nominated as Best Picture. (Nor was Duck Soup, South Park, Blazing Saddles, The Producers, Something About Mary, Python's Grail, or any other pure comedy movie I can think of. Black comedies with an underlying seriousness (Dr Strangelove), and character-driven comedies or comedy/dramas (Life is Beautiful, Tootsie, American Beauty, It Happened One Night) sometimes get recognized.

Ben-Hur won the Oscar for Best Film that year, along with ten other Oscars, and also did three times the box office of Some Like It Hot. The gladiator epic is still in the top 11 of all-time based upon either the number of Oscars or the highest inflation-adjusted gross. Pretty much every other film was swamped by Ben-Hur mania that year, as the epic won eleven Oscars. If I remember right, Cahn and Van Heusen, when they accepted their best song award for "High Hopes", thanked William Wyler for not adding a theme song to Ben-Hur.

If the ballots were held again today, things might be different. Truffaut's French film (The 400 Blows) would not have been considered as best picture, but Some Like it Hot and North by Northwest are now considered the other two best films of that year. As much as or more than now, Oscar nominations rarely went to comedies, animated films, or thrillers. And you could just forget about foreign language films getting anything but their ghetto award. Voters liked big budget films and movies with serious topics.

Here are the current IMDb rankings for the major 1959 films.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen letterboxed, 1.66:1

  • three documentaries and featurettes about the movie

Film (nominees in aqua)  
North by Northwest 8.6
The 400 Blows (Foreign-language) 8.6
Some Like it Hot 8.4
Ben-Hur 8.1
Anatomy of a Murder 8.1
Room at the Top 8.0
Nun's Story 7.8
On The Beach  7.7
Imitation of Life 7.6
Sleeping Beauty 7.5
The Diary of Anne Frank 7.5
Pillow Talk 7.4

The Critics Vote

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 8.4, among the top 50 of all time. Apollo voters 81/100. These scores are consistent with the critical consensus.
  • With their dollars ... Although made economically, it was as popular with moviegoers as with critics. It grossed $25 million, about equivalent to $165 million today, on a budget of only $3.5 million, which is still only a modest $20-25 in today's dollars. By the way, Ben-Hur was the box-office king that year with $70 million (11th all-time after inflation adjustment) on a $15 million budget.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is an A. A film comedy that was popular across the board, financially successful, and is generally considered a classic.

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