26
May 04

FT Top 100 Films 95: SOME LIKE IT HOT

Do You SeePost a comment • 1,333 views

Oddly, as I went to start this piece “Some Like It Hot” by the Power Station came on my mp3 player. Not really much of a commentary on the film, it did isolate one of the most bizarre things about the film. Its title. No-one likes it hot in the film. Neither in a temperate or metaphorical way (the heat is certainly on Joe and Jerry but the do not seem comfortable). The slightly generic title almost means the 1939 Bob Hope comedy of the same name has almost completely been wiped from consciousness. Trust me, it is well worth seeking out if you like jazz drumming.

But to the cross-dressing farago that is Some Like It Hot. An intensely violent opening act, moving on to sexism, homophobia and a nice round off with more violence. Not your average focus group comedy. One of the most documented film shoots of all time, and one which Tony Curtis has dined out on for much of his life. The secret of Some Like It Hot’s success is doing both the cross-dressing plots at once. You get the bloke who looks quite good as a girl befriending the girl he fancies (Tony Curtis), and you get the girl who looks terrible as a girl being the object of affection of a bloke (Jack Lemmon). Tootsie rolls these characters implausibly into one to use both plots and does not pull it off quite as well.

The on the run from the mob plot has been stolen so many times since it is difficult to believe how violent the early sequences of the films are. Sanitized in Sister Act, True Identity etc: the idea of your own home made witness protection programme is frankly far fetched. But hey, remember, this is screwball comedy and this leads us away from the real grim and gritty St Valentines Day massacre, to a sunny beach with girls and Marilyn Monroe. It is however missing the an appearance from Cary Grant, popping his head up in the final reel to bop Curtis on the nose for his impudence.

But Anthony Easton Says…

Its not as funny or as accomplished as people think it is. Its not as weird or camp as Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend (where both the drag and the female impersonation is done by women), not as sad as The Apartment (and this movie is supposed to be as sad as it is funny) and not as queer as Spartacus (but then two men in a roman tub would make anything queer.) Its accomplished, though but accomplished as vaudeville, and in that way its a paean to a dying form. A couple of good lines and some decent performances do not extend this past a rather boring relic.

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