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Some Like It Hot(1959)
When two musicians witness a mob hit, they flee the state in an all female band disguised as women, but further complications set in.
For more about Some Like It Hot and the Some Like It Hot Blu-ray release, see Some Like It Hot Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on May 10, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, Pat O'Brien, George Raft, Joe E. Brown
Director: Billy Wilder
» See full cast & crew
Some Like It Hot Blu-ray Review
Still as hot as ever.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, May 10, 2011
As Marilyn Monroe walks by, hips sashaying in a rhythmic va-va-voom, Jack Lemmon's character in Some Like It Hot turns to co-star Tony Curtis in admiring disbelief: "Look how she moves. Like JELL-O on springs! She must have some sort of built-in motor or something. I tell you, it's a whole different sex!" Sex is right. Some Like It Hot is all about it, and although no one does the deed onscreen, the movie is rife with both verbal and visual innuendo. And then, of course, there's the central conceit: Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis spend most of the film in drag— lipstick, high heels, dresses, and all. This was—if you'll pardon the pun—ballsy stuff for its time, and Some Like It Hot, released without MPAA certification, presented a direct challenge to the soon-to-be-outmoded Hays Code, which had rigidly controlled what couldn't be shown or mentioned in Hollywood productions since the 1930s. But there's more to the film than light blue humor and lingering views of Monroe's celebrated T&A. Some Like It Hot deserves to be listed alongside writer/director Billy Wilder's other masterpieces—it's as lasting and influential as Double Indemnity or Sunset Boulevard—and it's widely regarded, for good reason, as one of the greatest American comedies in cinema history.
Opening in Prohibition-era Chicago, Some Like It Hot's lengthy prologue—loaded with gangster movie tropes—may leave you thinking you're watching the wrong film. There's a casket filled with bootlegged rum! A funeral home that's a secret speakeasy! A mob boss (George Raft) who orders a tommy-gun massacre! The intent is to give some dramatic weight and danger to what would otherwise be a straight-up screwball comedy, and it works. Down and out musicians Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) witness this mass murder and to escape getting mowed down, they take the first out-of-town gig they can get. The only problem? They'll be playing with "Sweet Sue and Her Society Syncopators," an all-girl jazz band. It's only for three weeks, though, and it's easy money, so Joe and Jerry get all dolled up, rechristen themselves as "Josephine" and "Daphne," and board a Florida-bound train with the other Syncopators.
The humor here is immediate—they're surrounded by buxom, blond-haired beauties, and there's nothing they can do about it. They're horny wolves in sheep's clothing, and Jerry hilariously has to keep reminding himself, "I'm a girl. I'm a girl. I'm a girl." The sexual predicament is amplified when they both fall for "Sugar" Kane Kowalczyk (Marilyn Monroe), the band's chest-heavy, pouty-lipped singer, a runaway who has a thing for sax players. To gain Sugar's affection, Joe—a sax man—dons an additional disguise as "Junior," a yacht-owning millionaire, and hijinks ensue as he scrambles to keep all of his identities straight. Meanwhile, "Daphne" receives a marriage proposal from an actual millionaire—played by the loony Joe E. Brown—and accepts, believing he can scheme his way into receiving monthly alimony checks when they inevitably divorce. Joe sees numerous problems with this plan, chiefly, "What are you gonna do on your honeymoon?" Jerry, not even considering the implications, replies, "We've been discussing that. He wants to go to the Riviera, but I'm kinda leaning toward Niagara Falls."
The screenplay, co-written by Wilder and his frequent collaborator I.A.L. Diamond, crackles with these kinds of clever reversals, rich with wink- wink subtext. Where a similarly themed film today would go for broad, raunchy gags aimed at the lowest common denominator, the comedy in Some Like It Hot is both sexy and sophisticated, implicit rather than explicit. This was partially mandated by the boundaries of polite taste at the time, but Wilder also understood that it's better to keep an audience in a state of longing, to leave just enough unseen and unsaid that viewers take pleasure filling in the blanks with their imaginations.
This goes for his visual gags as well as the dialogue. When Marilyn Monroe is onstage coyly singing "I Wanna Be Loved By You," she wears a nearly see-through gossamer dress that—from a distance—looks to be barely there at all, with stitching that accentuates the anatomical details we know lie just underneath. Even more tantalizingly, Wilder throws a spotlight on her face but leaves her breasts in the shadows below, a directorial tease that's highly intentional. Later, there's a great scene where Sugar and Joe—as the millionaire "Junior"—find themselves alone together on a yacht that Joe has discretely commandeered. Lying on a couch, Joe tells Sugar about his inability to fall in love and how, when he's with a girl, "it does absolutely nothing to me." The undertone is clear; he's actually talking about impotence—performance anxiety—and I don't think you have to strain to also read hints of homosexuality into the conversation. Sugar, concerned, asks if she can "take a crack" at curing him. They share a long, slow kiss in close-up, and in the background, out of focus, we see Joe's leg rise triumphantly into the air. "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar," Sigmund Freud once supposedly said about his ever-present, unmistakably phallic stogie, but in this case, a leg is most definitely not just a leg.
Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon are simply brilliant as the two cross-dressing imposters. Although his goofy Cary Grant impersonation as "Junior" has always seemed like the film's one false move, Curtis is great as the relative straight man—so to speak—to both Jerry and Sugar. Lemmon gets to let loose more—a lot more—and in his performance, which amounts to controlled comic anarchy, you can see the stylistic germ of many future comedians, most notably Steve Martin, who seems to have borrowed Lemmon's timing, physicality, and even a few facial expressions for his own career. I don't think anyone would blame him. Lemmon was one of the greats, and this was one of his best roles. Marilyn Monroe, however, is the star that gives Some Like It Hot its gravity and shine. She's perfect as "Sugar" Kane, because—and this is true in almost all of her films— she somehow exudes innocence even while she positively oozes sex. This is partly attributable to the "dumb blond" persona that Wilder helped establish in The Seven Year Itch—perpetuated here in lines like, "Real diamonds! They must be worth their weight in gold!"—but what really gives Sugar dimension is how similar she seems to the real-life Marilyn, who was also always trying to run away from her past. She's buoyant, and a little air-headed, but the character is grounded by her world-weariness. She's been emotionally abused, kicked around, abandoned by guys who leave nothing behind but "a pair of old socks and a tube of toothpaste all squeezed out." We want to see her make good, to see her naiveté rewarded. That Marilyn is incredibly sexy too is the icing on an already-filling cake. The name "Sugar" is apropos; Marilyn is both refined and raw, sweet and deliciously decadent.
Some Like It Hot Blu-ray, Video Quality
Some Like It Hot received a new transfer in 2006 for the film's 2-disc Collector's Edition DVD release, and while I may be wrong, I suspect the resultant remaster was also used as the source for the Blu-ray's 1080p/AVC-encoded image. While this might not sound like good news, the film is an absolute pleasure to watch in high definition. Although white specks and small bits of debris sometimes pop up, there's little brightness flickering, no major print damage, and—here's the biggest relief—no hints of excess noise reduction or edge enhancement. The film's grain structure is intact, and the image looks entirely natural, free from any after-the-fact boosting or tweaking. Clarity is noticeably improved from the DVD. While rarely tack sharp, cloth and skin textures look more finely resolved—see Josephine and Daphne's pancake batter makeup—and there's a greater degree of detail all around. The film's monochromatic gradient is also nicely reproduced, with dark, detail-preserving blacks, rich grays, and crisp whites that very rarely look too hot or overexposed. (There are a few scenes, like Joe E. Brown's character talking on the phone on his yacht, where brighter portions of the screen take on a slightly splotchy quality.) I didn't notice any significant compression issues. While we can only speculate on what Some Like It Hot would've looked like had Criterion picked up the rights—as some were predicting earlier this year—I'm more than happy with MGM's treatment of the film on Blu-ray.
Do note that although the film was screened theatrically in the U.S. in 1.85:1, it was shot in 1.66:1 and is presented that way here.
Some Like It Hot Blu-ray, Audio Quality
MGM has subtly and capably expanded the film's mono sound elements into a more immersive DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. Purists will probably be disappointed that the original track isn't also included—not even in lossy, Dolby Digital form—but rest easy, there's nothing about this multi- channel mix that seems gaudy, gimmicky, or out of place. A few gunshots and car sounds have been panned into the rears, and Adolph Deutsch's score sometimes takes up residence in the space around your head, but that's about it. Most of the action is still up front and center, where it's always been. I have no complaints. The music sounds wonderful—particularly Marilyn's three featured songs—and the limited effects have about as much punch as you'd expect from a film from the late 1950s. Dialogue throughout is perfectly balanced and easy to understand—once you set your initial volume, you'll have no reason to touch your remote for the rest of the film. The disc also includes a number of dubs and subtitle options, including a subtitle track for the audio commentary.
Some Like It Hot Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
I was hoping MGM would give Some Like It Hot the full-on digibook treatment, as the film deserves better than the standard issue eco-case sans-slipcover that we get here. As for supplements, the Blu-ray is nearly a straight port of the 2-disc Collector's Edition DVD—minus the pressbook gallery, which isn't included—and there are unfortunately no new Blu-ray exclusive bonus features.
Some Like It Hot Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Comedically, Some Like It Hot is about as good as it gets, and you don't have to take my word for it—in 2000, the American Film Institute named it the greatest American comedy of all time. The film looks and sounds fantastic on Blu-ray, but in terms of supplements, this re-release is pretty much a straight port of the 2-disc Collector's Edition DVD from 2006. Still, for fans, an upgrade is definitely in order, and for those that don't yet own the film, this is the version to get. Highly recommended!
Blu-ray bundles with Some Like It Hot (2 bundles)
Some Like It Hot Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Some Like It Hot, The Hustler, More Catalog Fox/MGM on Blu-ray - March 14, 2011
According to information from retail giant Walmart, 20th Century Fox will follow up its Blu-ray onslaught with a wave of titles from the MGM catalog, including Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959) for May 10. Fox proper will release The Hustler (50th Anniversary) ...
Some Like It Hot Blu-ray Screenshots
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