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Marilyn Monroe required 47 takes to get "It's me, Sugar" correct, instead saying either "Sugar, it's me" or "It's Sugar, me". After take 30, Billy Wilder had the line written on a blackboard. Another scene required Monroe to rummage through some drawers and say "Where's the bourbon?" After 40 takes of her saying "Where's the whiskey?", 'Where's the bottle?", or "Where's the bonbon?", Wilder pasted the correct line in one of the drawers. After Monroe became confused about which drawer contained the line, Wilder had it pasted in every drawer. Fifty-nine takes were required for this scene and when she finally does say it, she has her back to the camera, leading some to wonder if Wilder finally gave up and had it dubbed.
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Tony Curtis has said that he asked Billy Wilder if he could imitate Cary Grant for his stint as the millionaire in the movie. Wilder liked it and they shot it that way. Apparently, Grant saw the parody of himself and stated, jokingly, "I don't talk like that."
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Jack Lemmon wrote that the first sneak preview had a bad reaction with many audience walkouts. Many studio personnel and agents offered advice to Billy Wilder on what scenes to reshoot, add and cut. Lemmon asked Wilder what he was going to do. Wilder responded: "Why, nothing. This is a very funny movie and I believe in it just as it is. Maybe this is the wrong neighborhood in which to have shown it. At any rate, I don't panic over one preview. It's a hell of a movie." Wilder held the next preview in the Westwood section of Los Angeles, and the audience stood up and cheered.
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When Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon first put on the female make-up and costumes, they walked around the Goldwyn Studios lot to see if they could "pass" as women. Then they tried using mirrors in public ladies rooms to fix their makeup, and when none of the women using it complained, they knew they could be convincing as women. There is a scene on the train recreating this moment.
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Upon its original release, Kansas banned the film from being shown in the state, explaining that cross-dressing was "too disturbing for Kansans".
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Marilyn Monroe wanted the movie to be shot in color (her contract stipulated that all her films were to be in color), but Billy Wilder convinced her to let it be shot in black and white when costume tests revealed that the makeup that Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon wore gave their faces a green tinge.
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A male cabaret dancer named Barbette tried to teach Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon to walk in heels. After about a week, Lemmon declined his help, saying he didn't want to walk like a woman, but a man trying to walk like a woman.
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A preview audience laughed so hard after Daphne's announcement of the engagement to Osgood, that a lot of the dialogue was missed. It was re-shot with pauses (and the maraca gimmick) added to allow for this.
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Supposedly when Orry-Kelly was measuring all three stars for dresses, he half-jokingly told Marilyn Monroe, "Tony Curtis has a nicer butt than you," at which point Monroe pulled open her blouse and said, "Yeah, but he doesn't have tits like these!"
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Stories of the difficulty that cast and crew had with Marilyn Monroe during the making of this film have grown to almost mythical proportions. In the "farewell" telephone conversation between Monroe and Tony Curtis, her side-to-side eye movements clearly reveal that she was reading her lines directly from an off-screen blackboard. According to Curtis, Monroe was routinely 2 to 3 hours late to the set, and occasionally refused to leave her dressing room.
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Jack Lemmon got along with Marilyn Monroe and forgave her eccentricities. He believed Marilyn simply couldn't go in front of the camera until she was absolutely ready. "She knew she was limited and goddamned well knew what was right for Marilyn," he said. "She wasn't about to do anything else." He also said that although she may not have been the greatest actor or singer or comedienne, she used more of her talent, brought more of her gifts to the screen than anyone he ever knew.
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The resort scenes were filmed entirely at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, California. One reason why Billy Wilder chose this location was Marilyn Monroe's ongoing personal problems. He wanted a location where she could live on site and not have to be transported.
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Many years after the film's release, a movie reviewer asked Tony Curtis why his "Josephine" was so much more feminine than Jack Lemmon's "Daphne". A laughing Curtis explained that he was so scared to be playing a woman (or a man pretending to be one) that his tightly wound body language could be read as demure and shy, traditionally feminine traits, whereas Lemmon, who was completely unbothered, and "ran out of his dressing room screaming like the Queen of the May," kept much more of his masculine body language.
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Jerry Lewis was offered the role of Jerry/Daphne but declined because he didn't want to dress in drag. When Jack Lemmon received an Oscar nomination for the role that Lewis gave up, Lewis claims he sent him chocolates every year to thank him and now regrets not taking the part.
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Marilyn Monroe originally didn't want to play Sugar. She said "I don't want to play someone who can't tell Daphne and Josephine are really men dressed in drag".
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Tony Curtis was signed first, but United Artists pressured Billy Wilder to cast a bigger box-office name than Jack Lemmon for the second male lead. Once Marilyn Monroe signed on, Wilder was able to cast Lemmon.
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Marilyn Monroe was pregnant during the filming, as a result she looked considerably heavier. She had several miscarriages in her life. Due to her pregnancy, most of the publicity still photos were posed for by both Sandra Warner (who had an uncredited role as one of the band members) and Monroe's frequent stand-in Evelyn Moriarty with Monroe's head superimposed later.
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In 2008, a Californian man who found a little black dress in his closet was stunned when appraisers for U.S. TV series Antiques Roadshow (1997) determined it once belonged to Marilyn Monroe. The frock - which Monroe was sewn into for Some Like It Hot (1959) - was estimated to be worth $250,000.
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According to Jules Faith in "The Bronfmans", the only person who ever dared mock Lew Wasserman's "Music Corporation of America" was Billy Wilder in this movie. The musicians played by Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, looking for work, charge into an office labeled "Music Corporation of America". The only occupant is a woman sitting at a desk, drinking from a bottle.
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Billy Wilder referring to Marilyn Monroe while making the movie: "We were in mid-flight, and there was a nut on the plane." Indeed, Wilder publicly blasted Monroe for her behavior, and she was not invited to the wrap party.
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According to I.A.L. Diamond, he and Billy Wilder spent a year developing the script. Initially, the script was set in contemporary times because they felt they needed a situation more powerful than poverty to compel the characters to dress as women. Diamond suggested that a period setting would make it easier for the audience to accept female impersonation and Wilder then came up with the idea to set the story during the jazz age and have their characters witness a gangland slaying as motivation for hiding out.
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After shooting was completed, Billy Wilder threw a celebration dinner at his home for cast members and friends. Marilyn Monroe was not invited. The crushed star had to have it explained to her that she had cost the production roughly half a million dollars with her delays and unprofessional behaviour. Wilder had generally unkind things to say about her after this film. When asked if he would do another project with her, he replied, "My doctor and my psychiatrist ... tell me I am too old and too rich to go through this again." After reading some of the things Wilder said about her in print, Monroe called his home and told his wife to please give her husband the message - "to go f*** himself." Wilder changed his tune later, commenting, "It takes a real artist to come on the set and not know her lines and yet give the performance she did." A year later, at the premiere of The Apartment (1960), Monroe threw her arms around him, told him how much she loved the picture, and whispered that she would like to play the lead in Irma la Douce (1963), a role that eventually went to Shirley MacLaine.
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Some Like It Hot was voted the 9th greatest film of all time by Entertainment Weekly magazine, and, is ranked on this list high enough to be the greatest comedy of all time.
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While being interviewed by Michael Parkinson, Jack Lemmon said the scene where Sugar Kane gets in bed with Jerry on the sleeper train was the only scene Marilyn Monroe managed to do in one take.
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The character of Spats Colombo is in several ways reminiscent to the notorious Chicago gangster Al Capone. Capone was responsible for the Saint Valentine's Day massacre in 1929, in which his rival gang members were gunned down in a nearly identical fashion as shown in the film. The massacre occurred in a Chicago warehouse on Clark Street, which is also mentioned in the film.
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George Raft passes a young hood who is flipping a coin in his hand and he asked him where he learned a "cheap trick" like that. That trick was one that Raft used in Scarface (1932).
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The characterization of Little Bonaparte is clearly an imitation of Benito Mussolini, from the bald head to the broad gestures.
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In an interview with Leonard Maltin, Tony Curtis' confirmed that the voice of his character's female alter ego (Josephine) was an audio modulation of both his own voice and that of actor Paul Frees. By his own admission, Curtis had difficulty in maintaining the falsetto for an extended time.
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The film's working title was "Not Tonight Josephine".
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Tony Curtis hated that his own performance deteriorated over the course of the 30 or more takes often needed to get a good scene out of Marilyn Monroe. As a result, Billy Wilder ended up having to use more footage of Marilyn than him.
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The film was adapted into a Broadway musical entitled "Sugar", which opened at the Majestic Theater on April 9, 1972 and ran for 505 performances. The same show -- script and score -- has subsequently toured the country under the title "Some Like It Hot".
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Marilyn Monroe wrote to Billy Wilder in 1957 expressing hope that they could work together again after The Seven Year Itch (1955).
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Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, who had to kick off their shoes and soak their painful feet the second Billy Wilder said "Cut," were usually forced to stand around in painful high heels for long periods while Marilyn Monroe flubbed her lines.
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Voted #1 on the American Film Institute's list of 100 Funniest Movies Of All Time in 2001.
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Tony Curtis was spotted by Billy Wilder while he was making Houdini (1953), as he thought he would perfect for the role of Joe. "I was sure Tony was right for it - because he was quite handsome, and when he tells Marilyn Monroe that he is one of the Shell Oil family, she has to be able to believe it".
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There's a nice nod to the gangster classic The Public Enemy (1931) in the banquet scene, when Spats Colombo comes close to smashing a henchman in the face with a grapefruit, as James Cagney did to Mae Clarke in the earlier movie.
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Porgy and Bess (1959) was being filmed right next to where the indoor scenes for this film were being shot. Sammy Davis Jr., Sidney Poitier and Dorothy Dandridge frequently visited the set.
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Osgood Fielding's yacht, the Caledonia II, was played by the 120-foot luxury motor yacht Lovely Lady for the exterior shots at least. Originally christened the Tara, the wooden yacht was designed by Charles D. Mower and built by Henry B. Nevins in 1930 at City Island, New York. After a 1993 refit, she was renamed Norma Jeane and available for charter out of Palm Beach, Florida.
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Frank Sinatra missed the opportunity to play Jerry when he didn't show for a lunch date with Billy Wilder.
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Marilyn Monroe consented to appear in the film only after production executive Harold Mirisch offered her 10% of the gross.
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In the opening scene when Joe and Jerry are playing at the "funeral", all of Gerald's "supposes" eventually become true: The Dodgers move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles and Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks get divorced. Also, of course, the stock market crashed later in 1929.
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The railroad passenger car that was used in this movie (Clover Colony) is now at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum in Chattanooga, Tennessee where it can be used in excursion/local service.
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The title of the film refers to the contemporary description of interpreting jazz music "hot" (improvisational) as opposed to "sweet" or "straight" (as written).
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Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
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According to Tony Curtis' 1993 autobiography, he had a premonition that Marilyn Monroe would be dead within one to two films, after production on Some Like It Hot ended in November 1958; sadly, Curtis' premonition came true on Sunday, August 5, 1962, when Marilyn's death at age 36 was announced earlier that day.
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The only film of 1959 to be Oscar nominated for Best Director, and not Best Picture.
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Tony Curtis had been going to analysis as much as four times a week for several years. And when the time came for him to appear on the set in drag for the first time, Jack Lemmon had to take him by the hand and literally pull him out of his dressing room.
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Marilyn Monroe recorded a vocal version for the theme to the film. It was to be played over the opening credits, but an instrumental overture took its place in the final version. The title track later appeared on an LP in the mid-'70s, with Marilyn's three other songs from the film.
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The sequences set in Florida were shot on location at the Hotel Del Coronado Resort near San Diego, California, which is where the production of Some Like It Hot began on June 1, 1958, which was Marilyn's 32nd birthday; production on this film ended on November 5, 1958, two months over schedule and over half a million dollars over budget.
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Billy Wilder was not happy with Tony Curtis falsetto voice as "Josephine" and had it re-dubbed in a recording studio.
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Director Billy Wilder had originally planned to cast Mitzi Gaynor in the role of "Sugar Kane Kowalczyk", but when Marilyn Monroe became available, he used her instead.
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The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list.
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The last door Jerry and Joe open in the office building where they are looking for work says "Jules Stein, President" stenciled on the door. Jules Stein is a real person who founded the Music Corporation of America, also stenciled on the door. Billy Wilder played cards with Stein.
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In Russia, the film is titled "V dzhaze tolko devushki," literally "In Jazz, There Are Only Girls," or poetically and figuratively "Only Girls Are Allowed In Jazz", thought by some to be a much more appropriate title.
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In addition the songs performed in the film, portions of the following tunes were used: "Sweet Georgia Brown," "By the Beautiful Sea," "Randolph Street Rag," "La Cumparsita" and "Park Avenue Fantasy" (also known as "Stairway to the Sky")
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When Daphne and Osgood Fielding are discussing what to do after the girls' first night on the bandstand in Florida, Fielding indicates that the roadhouse has a hot Cuban band "that's the berries." That was a phrase prevalent in the roaring twenties meaning the band was the best! It was similar in usage to the "bees' knees."
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In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #22 Greatest Movie of All Time.
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In 1989, Some Like It Hot (1959) was added to the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress.
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According to I.A.L. Diamond, Billy Wilder offered Jack Lemmon the role of Jerry, and Lemmon gave him a verbal agreement to appear in the film, despite being under contract to Columbia Pictures.
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Marilyn Monroe appeared in person at the United Artists Theatre in Chicago when the film opened on March 19, 1959, newspaper ads exclaimed "In Person! Marilyn Monroe On Stage! One Appearance Only At 12 Noon!"
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As the "girls" are walking to their car, you hear the train station announcer say, "Florida Limited leaving on Track 1 for Washington, Charleston, Havana, Jacksonville and Miami. All aboard, all aboard!" This voice belongs to none other than Disney voice-over legend Jack Wagner, who can still be heard today announcing the arrivals and departures of Disneyland and Walt Disney World's trains at their respective Main Street, USA stations.
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Voted #14 on the AFI's List of 100 Greatest Movies.
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In 1984, there was a 25th Anniversary reunion for the cast and crew of Some Like It Hot in the lower level of the ballroom of the Hotel del Coronado. They posted photos of them celebrating the affair.
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Included among the American Film Institute's 2000 list of the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.
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"Some Like It Hot" was rated "B - Morally Objectionable in Part for All" by the Roman Catholic Church Legion of Decency.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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The exterior shots of the train station were filmed at the MGM studio in Culver City, as one of their then-standing sets was that of a train station: it was deemed cheaper to rent the use of that than to build one at the Goldwyn studio. What was left of the station can be seen in Fred Astaire's introduction sequence in That's Entertainment! (1974).
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Georg Thomalla, who starred in the German original, Fanfaren der Liebe (1951), dubbed Jack Lemmon in the German version of this movie.
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Premiere voted this movie as one of "The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time" in 2006.
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According to David Thomson in his book "Have You Seen?," Actress Mitzi Gaynor "was standing by" in the event that Miss Monroe became disabled.
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The only non-Best Picture nominee for the year to be nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.
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There is a Turkish remake from 1964, called Fistik gibi masallah.
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As they arrive in Florida they're excited to meet millionaires. $1M in 1959 has the same buying power as approximately $8.6M in 2019.
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Unfortunately, the yacht used as Osgood Fielding's is no more. In April of 2009, she sank in the South Branch of the Miami River. She was a 121ft, 1930s vintage Nevins that was named Tara and renamed Lovely Lady in 1958 and was used in many films and TV shows.
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News items from the Hollywood Reporter added the following actors to the cast: Jack Mather, Tiger Joe Marsh, Pat Comiskey, Fred Sherman, Billy Wayne, Ralph Volkie, Carl Sklover, John Logan, Gail Gleason, Joyce Horne, Joan Kelly, Lisa Long, Ashley Dean Myles, Virginia Lee, Minta Durfee, Harold 'Tommy' Hart, Ted Christy, Joe Palma and George Lake, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.
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In the Italian post-synchronized version of the film, the actors are dubbed by: Rosetta Calavetta (Marilyn Monroe); Pino Locchi (Tony Curtis); Giuseppe Rinaldi (Jack Lemmon); Gualtiero De Angelis (George Raft); Giorgio Capecchi (Pat O'Brien); Carlo Romano (Joe E. Brown); Mario Pisu (Nehemiah Persoff); Lydia Simoneschi (Joan Shawlee); Manlio Busoni (Billy Gray); Cesare Polacco (George E. Stone); Bruno Persa (Dave Barry); Luigi Pavese (Mike Mazurki) and Massimo Turci (Edward G. Robinson Jr.).
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In the French post-synchronized version of the film, the actors are dubbed by: Claire Guibert (Marilyn Monroe); Jean-Claude Michel (Tony Curtis); Michel Roux (Jack Lemmon); Jean Martinelli (George Raft), Fred Pasquali (Joe E. Brown), Danièle Roy (Joan Shawlee) and Raymonde Devarennes (Barbara Drew).
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There is an urban legend that filmmakers chose ukulele for Marilyn Monroe's character to play, as holding small-scale instruments with both hands made actress's breasts to look more attractive.
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In addition to dubbing Tony Curtis's transvestite voice, Paul Frees also dubbed Tito Vuolo in the small role of "Mr. Mozzarella" (one line).
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The now-famous closing line, "Nobody's perfect," was actually never intended to make the final film - it was apparently to be replaced by the writers once they thought of something they liked better. I.A.L. Diamond and Billy Wilder each credit the other for the genesis of the line. Wilder later fashioned his own epitaph with the similar line: "I'm a writer, but then nobody's perfect."
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According to George Raft, Marilyn Monroe suggested to Billy Wilder that he end the movie with Sugar and Spats tangoing off into the sunset. Wilder liked the idea, but decided on the ending with Osgood and Jerry.
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In the shooting scene, Spats Colombo, kicks the trademark toothpick from Toothpick Charlie's mouth, after he's dead on the floor. George Raft who played Spats, was afraid that he would miss the toothpick and kick George E. Stone in the head, therefore he missed his target constantly. After about ten takes, he only managed to make Billy Wilder furious. He tried to show Raft how to do it, only to kick Stone in the head, as Raft was fearing. Raft proposed that the toothpick should be replaced with something else, to make the target easier to see. So a nail was painted to look as a toothpick, and Raft completed the shot in the first take.
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The film's closing line "Well, nobody's perfect." was voted as the #48 greatest movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).
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The Nehemiah Persoff role originally was offered to Edward G. Robinson, but Robinson had vowed never again to work with George Raft, with whom he had a fist fight on the set of Manpower (1941) when for a scene Raft spun him around too hard. (Despite the avowal, Robinson did co-star with Raft in A Bullet for Joey (1955).) However, the role of Johnny Paradise, the kid homaging Raft's "cheap trick" of coin-flipping, is also the man with the Tommy gun in the birthday cake who mows down Spats and his gang. The actor is Edward G. Robinson Jr..
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