There are some that proclaim Some Like It Hot to be the very best film of Marilyn Monroe’s career, even the best of Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis who also co-star and there is a very good case to be made for that argument. Directed by Billy Wilder, the humour is a smart funny, though it does wander into the realm of physical humour and a couple of moments where you will laugh out loud as well. Most of these laughs come from Lemmon who was an exceedingly gifted actor with great comedic timing and though you would not expect it, once in a blue moon, there has been a film where Curtis could make you chuckle too, this being one of them. Of course, Monroe is no slouch when it comes to getting a laugh and Wilder gives her such easy lines that when delivered, are simply hilarious when coupled with her character’s seeming innocence and carefree attitude. The three would have great on-screen chemistry and when it came to the casting of the film, of which Wilder had a hand in, he came up aces.
At this point in time, Marilyn was not doing so well personally, and the great thing is you would never be able to tell from the work she delivered on the big screen that anything whatsoever was out of the ordinary. In fact, Monroe’s performance as Sugar Kane was quite incredible and turned out to be one of the most memorable she would ever do. For the entire time she was in scene you could hardly look away, not because she looked beautiful and was playing the token bombshell, but because she gave it a subtlety and a certain amount of charm that made Sugar Kane eminently likeable. She was the small-town girl who wanted to make it big but still wanted to be that small-town girl. Opposite her would be Tony Curtis as the leading man and Jack Lemmon as the sidekick. The two of them were the perfect pair to stand opposite Monroe, bringing not only the laughter but some of that aforementioned charm as well. The picture is one that will not only make you smile, but make you feel good because in the end, everyone got their happy ending. Except for maybe Lemmon and he had his own little ending which has to be seen to be believed.
With the film being about a couple of men on the lam from some gangsters who seemingly have no choice but to go undercover and join a girl-band, there are of course a few musical numbers to be had. The main number and the one which became world-famous and associated with Monroe much like Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend is I Wanna Be Loved by You, a song written by Herbert Stothart and Harry Ruby. It had appeared on film before and was somewhat popular, but once Monroe got her vocals wrapped around it, it was hers forevermore. Near the end of the film is I’m Thru with Love, a song about heartbreak of course and one that showcases Monroe’s acting skills better than the former. You can tell that Sugar is more than sad as she cries, as she shakes and her hands clench and unclench. It is one of the few moments in the film where there is some real drama and amongst all of the zaniness that Wilder injects into the film, it is good to see that to further the plot and the ending of the film, he can tone the wit and banter down, if even for a moment.
When you think of films that have lasting impact, Some Like It Hot is one of them. It is not because of Monroe or Lemmon or Curtis or the fact that there was a great script or great direction but because of all of it combined in a perfect harmony rarely seen on film. Funny and fun are the name of the game with this picture, where everyone from the girls in the band to even the gangsters get a moment to provide a little humour. Who would ever have thought that a story about two guys dressing like women would have become such a huge hit in 1958 or have such long-lasting appeal? Probably nobody at the time, but such was the talent of everyone involved that the movie remains a true classic and even now, a very enjoyable movie.