By Casey Campbell
Ready for some really sad insight into me as a person? When watching Some Like It Hot for the first time, I couldn’t stop thinking of the Waynes Brothers classic White Chicks. Now that that bombshell has dropped, I can safely say that I not only enjoyed Some Like It Hot, but I actually laughed during it (unlike with White Chicks, womp womp).
Some Like It Hot WAS streaming on Amazon Prime Video until June 30. (This was written before it was said to be leaving the service. That’s some great luck on my part, having it release the day it goes off of Amazon. Apologies for the annoyance.) If you’re the kind of person to stick your nose up at older movies, I implore you to watch this one. Not only is it full of hysterical moments, it’s age is barely even noticeable. On top of that, it’s bonkers.
Before even getting into the main plot, I think it’s imperative to mention that the opening of the movie is a short prohibition gangster flick. A hearse drives through central Chicago with a police tail. Suddenly, the cops open fire, hanging out of their old fashioned cars with dangerous intent. The hearse, filled with a motley crew of visually comical mobsters, unleash a flurry of bullets in response. The scene is fast, kinetic, and confusing as hell for anyone that clicked the thumbnail expecting a comedy in which two men dress up as women. But I’ll get to that later. The hearse shakes the cops, retaining minor injuries to the bullet hole ridden casket and liquor bottles within. The hearse delivers the alcohol to an illegal gathering set in a funeral parlor, where we finally meet the main characters. Two schlubby musicians playing in the parlor band see a police raid coming and manage to leave the scene. Then, in a great motivational kick in the plots ass, the two musicians stumble upon the St. Valentines Day Massacre of 1929, thus forcing them to get the hell out of town. They masquerade as women in an all female band headed to Florida.
Christ, that was a lot. But in the movie, it’s so simple and engaging. And that’s the coolest thing about the main set up and conceit. It isn’t simply the lazy story of people doing something because the situation would be funny. It’s grounded in an actual event with real stakes, and it’s the driving force for the more farcical moments. But it all works. Even when it’s dabbling in crime drama, with the tremendously cartoonish Spats Colombo (George Raft) chewing scenery, it works. It’s not necessarily a genre-bender or anything, but the forays outside of comedy are terrific.
The movie also manages to say more about sex than most modern comedies. During their first day in Florida, the men complain about the extra attention they receive as women, with Jack Lemmon’s “Daphne” getting pinched on the behind by an overtly flirtatious Floridian millionaire. Tony Curtis’s “Josephine” then notes how it’s very different to be on the receiving end, in a clearly bad way. Further, Curtis’s male character “Joe” pretends to be a millionaire to woo the wily free spirited Sugar Kane, played with some genuine depth and humor by Marilyn Monroe. On one hand, the film comments on the often disgusting way men treat women. On the other, it shows how men feel the need to lie to be accepted.
Even though I’ve heard plenty about Billy Wilder and his filmography, this was my first time watching one of his films. It’s also the first time I’ve seen Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and Marilyn Monroe in anything. So in many ways this was a perfect storm for me. From the opening action scene to the gut busting final line, this movie was a true delight. It’s run time is a little over two hours, slightly long for a comedy in my opinion, but it wears it fairly well. The gags come at such a rate that time slips by and the ride is almost always enjoyable.
As previously stated, this review was written before the film was slated to leave Amazon Prime. Had I known prior, I would’ve just chose another film to cover but didn’t have the time. Hey, the movie still rocks and is still worth watching. Just, if you don’t want to spend extra cash, head to the local library or something. They may even have the *Criterion* edition. So fancy!