After two male musicians witness a mob hit, they flee the state in an all-female band disguised as women, but further complications set in.After two male musicians witness a mob hit, they flee the state in an all-female band disguised as women, but further complications set in.After two male musicians witness a mob hit, they flee the state in an all-female band disguised as women, but further complications set in.
I feel casting in a movie is one of the most under discussed elements of movie making amongst general public but it plays a very significant role in the success of a movie and SLIH is the prime example of it. Apart from Jack Lemmon, none of the protagonists were known for their superior acting skills and they would not have made the cut for a Billy Wilder piece. But, in retrospect, who other than Tony Curtis who had a boyish look and at the same time possessed sharp features could have played a saxophone playing woman charmer who could cross dress to be a part of a woman band. You can only get a flawless performance from a bad actor only if he/she is playing himself/herself and that is the exact reason why Marilyn Monroe wows you in every scene of Some Like It Hot. She is playing a dumb, vivacious and vulnerable damsel who can sing, doesn't mind sleeping with a charming guy whenever she gets a chance and then dips herself in a whiskey bottle when left all alone with herself. Jack Lemmon with a broad muscular jawline was surely the one who had a better chance of getting caught as someone not in the right clothes, but that is very small price to pay, as an actor of his caliber was indispensable to the cause of SLIH. He has an amazing sense of timing when it comes to humor; he is almost chaplinesque when it comes to expressions and the confidence with which he delivers his lines puts him right at the top of stack.
I am not sure when was the concept of black humor introduced in the world of cinema, but, SLIH has to be one of the better examples from the old times where black humor is integrated in the comedy. The black humor is there only to make its presence felt and nothing more. Other than that SLIH is a fun filled journey of Gerald (Lemmon) and Joseph (Curtis), two musicians on the run from dangerous Chicago gangsters who are after their lives. They find their safe house in an all-woman band that is off to Florida for a string of performances. This is where they meet the gorgeous Sugar (Marilyn) and try their luck on flattering her. It is all about how Joseph manages to get ahead in the race and Gerald like a true friend tags along without any explaining or pleading by Joseph. This is what makes SLIH sweet. The necessary salt is added to the movie by little moments like women having a party on train, Sugar hiding whiskey in her stocking, Fielding (Joe Brown) hitting on Dalphe (Gerald disguised as a woman) and further complications that set in because of these. What makes this classical comedy special is the fact that it makes you laugh at so many occasions without being slapstick or cheap or using the chaos technique. And when it doesn't make you laugh, it makes you smile. Most importantly, the movie stays with you.
The manner in which the movie begins, it suddenly makes you wonder - that's too much of real car chasing and shooting for a black and white movie of 40's and then you realize it's done in 1959 and the movie was intentionally produced in black and white. The first scene itself is a cracker and will create a cocktail of emotions, with words like liquor, crime, party, death, music all floating around at the same time. There are plenty of scenes where the camera pans out from one object to another capturing multiple things with different moods and complexion in the same scene and that is a technique which I guess wasn't used quite frequently back then. Make-up job of Curtis and Lemmon is too good for those times and it would have been so important for that to have been correctly done as that is absolutely central to the whole plot. Marilyn's costumes are way modern and she carries them effortlessly.
Some Like It Hot is without any doubt a classic but, probably in no other movie would have the last line played such an important role as in this. The finishing frames where Joe Brown utters the unexpected leave you pleasantly surprised and I am sure it would have had far better impact on the audience 50 years back.
- Oct 2, 2012