Summary: Steamy but not sleazy and hilarious but not brainless rom-com that mayn’t have gained its legendary status without its irresistible cast
Marilyn Monroe is the greatest proof that an actress can stimulate burning passion among men just by talking; watch those brilliant lips move and those lovely teeth – don’t they excite you, tantalize you till you fall off your couch? Monroe should’ve got those aphrodisiacs patented. Then comes those lovely puppies that adorn her bosom, and they stand out proudly, flaunting their fullness in her revealing gowns. It’s a wonder ‘Sweet’ Sue missed that; everything in Marilyn screams out ‘sex!’ and Monroe does a feat by layering Sugar with creaminess, nuttiness and sexiness so she’s worth much more than those dumb desperate harebrained bimbos. Sugar has a mind and a heart – she may be dumb and gullible, but she’s certainly not vain; she doesn’t even understand her own eccentricities sometimes, like always falling for bespectacled Saxophone players who only have one thing on their minds. She loves to drink anytime, anywhere and knows she doesn’t have much of a voice but can use her charm to please anyone. This makes her unique, and we don’t just gawk at them puppies all the time. Marilyn brings steadiness to her role, and she never lets go of Sugar in her scenes, in spite floundering her lines and creating a fiasco on sets. Her ‘I want to be loved by you’ is candid, hummable and touching. The high key lighting on her makes her ethereal. This is one performance that will not be forgotten. Modern rom-com actresses like Katherine Heigl, Jennifer Aniston and some lesser known ones can’t bring such sizzle on screen because they take their characters too lightly – Aniston talks like a female county sheriff while Heigl (though I haven’t seen much of her) is very clichéd and dull. Megan Fox unfortunately is too hot to make an impact as a true actress; she’s all ogle-ogle.
Fortunately, Some Like it Hot isn’t a Marilyn vehicle, though she anchors much of the film. There are two equally funny male counterparts who share an enviable chemistry, letting loose punch lines after punch lines. Yes, the movie needs to be watched twice to prick out some jokes that missed your ears while you were laughing. On the second viewing, I heard Jack Lemmon‘s quip on how women were able to walk with those shaky heels: ” Must be how their body is shaped out” ( or something like that) he remarks, and our minds then try to imagine those hourglass figures and we realize the naughty humor. I found the cries of the drunken man for more coffee funnier in my second viewing. Every pun, innuendo and running gag makes you laugh, though not fall off your seat like some new comedies. But I like it this way, the same way I adored Ninotchka, City Lights, Singing in the Rain and Awful Truth, because they share a common aim to treat the audience with humor, not only with jokes but also with the chemistry and the balanced narrative. Sometimes when we fall off our seats too often, we are alienated from the story and we only wait for more jokes. When such movies try to evoke sympathy for the characters later, we feel indifferent and disappointed. I specifically point out Bollywood films like Housefull, Priyadarshan film (except Hera Pheri) and the Shreyas Talpade capers that seem to drown their movies with gags, only to bring a spurious tear-jerking moment later. Only one world for those movies: FAIL.
The supporting cast comprises of bandmaster Sweet Sue, played by Joan Shawlee, a far from sweet, instead being a rather feared martinet who keeps the pixiesh girls in check but underestimates their wildness. She is also discernible as she does not trust Geraldine and Daphne (Curtis and Lemmon in disguise) and tries to probe them whenever she gets a chance. It’s a little surprising neither her character nor Dave Berry’s (who plays the band supervisor) get more screen time after Sue quietly instructs Beinstock to keep check on the two. They are the ones who are dropped like a brick, sadly. Then there is the liquor mafia king Spats who, along with his over-sized lawyers, hunts for Lemmon and Curtis’ characters after the two witness the gangsters massacring a rival gang. These characters, in Alfred Hitchcock terminology, are simply MacGuffins who make the path for sexy Marilyn to enter and smoke up the screen. Also, had these gangsters not been introduced, the movie wouldn’t have had its memorable climax that’s proves to be a double-edged sword for our unfortunate guys in drag. Climax in a comedy has to be strong, and a bit of irony helps, for example though Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights has a happy ending, the climax and falling action before do not make situations favorable for the tramp, but do make things better for those around him. Had such twists been omitted, the movie would not have gained much reputation with a straightforward climax. Some Like it hot has a terrific climax, and we couldn’t have asked for a better one.
Tony Curtis‘ Joe is a selfish, crafty and inconsiderate – he relies on Lemmon’s Jerry to gain personal advantage (the booking on dogs being the most trivial example), he makes his partner a puppet to attain Sugar (how smartly he arranges the date between Jerry/Daphne and Osgood), and he ignores the consequences of his deception with Sugar until the very end. But what’s most important is that he changes. Poor Jerry on the other hand conceives most of the plans, encounters Sugar first, but gets the second billing in the end because of Joe. His courtship as Daphne with Osgood is the funniest moment in the entire film… but then I remember ‘Nobody’s Perfect!’ and I can’t decide which is funnier.
Some Like it hot, in unbearable Mary Murphy’s own words, is on my hot tamale train!
- 6 Monroe Movies Reviewed: The Princess and The Showgirl (Note: Reviewed About A Year Ago) (sashankkini.wordpress.com)
- 6 Monroe Movies Reviewed – Bus Stop (Note: Reviewed About A Year Ago) (sashankkini.wordpress.com)