Some Like it Hot is probably the best film ever made, certainly the best comedy ever made and absolutely definitely Marilyn Monroe’s best effort, although Gentlemen Prefer Blondes comes in pretty close. But Howard Hawks (brilliant and talented as he was) never quite seemed to get the same performance out of The Iconic Blonde that Billy Wilder so brilliantly captured in this spoof gangster romp.
The pace is snappy, the direction clear and elegant; and everything else is of the same high standard – fabulous script, gorgeous frocks, great music, wonderful hair and make-up (especially for Geraldine and Daphne).
As everyone knows, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis play a couple of small-time musicians, Joe and Gerry, who having fallen foul of the mob, escape from Chicago to Florida by joining an all-girls band disguised as Geraldine and Daphne.
“I’m a girl, I’m a girl...” mutters Lemmon desperately, as Marilyn climbs into his sleeping compartment and cuddles up close.
Geraldine and Daphne soon team up with Sugar Kane (Marilyn of course) – a ukulele player and singer who is on the run from Sax Players and The Fluffy End of the Lollipop.
Needless to say, although she is determined to marry a millionaire, both men are hoping to score with Sugar. This pleasure goes to Curtis who then spends the rest of the film doing an absurd and very funny imitation of Cary Grant. Sadly he then spent the rest of his career slagging Marilyn off. Sour grapes perhaps, bearing in mind that Yves Montand (Let’s Make Love) had no complaints.
And of course Some Like It Hot features the double act of lovely Jack Lemmon and the inimitable Joe E. Brown, playing the desiccated millionaire in love with him - in or out of drag. I especially like the tango scene with the blindfolded band.
“I’m a man, I’m a man,” declares Lemmon, in despair at realising he can’t marry his conquest. “Oh, I wish I was dead!”
This sub-plot is irresistibly funny and neither actor puts a foot wrong from the first “Zowee!” to the last... but just in case you’ve been living on Mars for the last 50 years, I won’t tell you the final punch line. I’ll just say that it’s miles funnier than those other great favourites, “Tomorrow is another day!” and “This could be the start of a beautiful friendship!”
Billy Wilder says they were sweating over that punch line all through filming, not knowing how to finish the film. Clearly the sweat was worth it. The movie is perfect from start to brilliant punch line.