It is hard to believe it’s almost been 52 years since the death of Marilyn Monroe. As Marilyn still seems more popular than ever, Suzanne Camfield takes a look back at one of her most famous films…
Some Like It Hot is a classic 1959 comedy starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. Curtis and Lemmon play musicians living in Chicago who are witnesses to the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre. After being spotted, they go into hiding by dressing as women and joining an all-female band heading to Miami. Whilst on the train to Miami, they meet Sugar Kane played by Marilyn Monroe, the lead singer of the band.
Some Like It Hot contains a perfect blend of Billy Wilder’s excellent writing and directing. Wilder always knew the significance of the writing being the key to a film. The comedy in Some Like It Hot is mostly provided by Jack Lemmon, with his fast one-liners and witty responses. Tony Curtis plays the charming ladies’ man, and Marilyn Monroe is perfect as the self-assured young singer.
Although the plot is not very bulky, there is enough of a story to keep the audience entertained for the duration of the film. It seems that Some Like It Hot is still so well loved today because the humour is very easy-going, so it can appeal to all age groups and types of people. It would certainly be a much less funny film if Jack Lemmon wasn’t in it and a much less interesting film without the three leads together.
When released, Some Like It Hot was very successful, and earned approximately $25million at the worldwide box office from the $2.8million it cost to make. However, it is reported that $1million was added onto the production cost due to Monroe missing filming or arriving late to set. Jack Lemmon was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor, and Billy Wilder was nominated for Best Director. Jack Lemmon won the Golden Globe for Best Actor, and Marilyn Monroe won for Best Actress.
Marilyn Monroe was notoriously difficult to work with, often being late to set or missing entire days of filming. She often messed up the most simple of lines that she had to do many retakes to get it right, to the anger of the crew and other actors. In the years since the film’s release, Tony Curtis would often say that kissing Marilyn Monroe was like kissing Hitler. However, in his 2008 autobiography, Curtis claims he did make the remark to the crew but only as a joke. Billy Wilder was also reported to say he would never work with Monroe again after directing her in 1955s The Seven Year Itch, which included the famous scene of Monroe standing above a subway grid as her white dress is blown up. However, he cast her again in Some Like It Hot.
If Marilyn Monroe was difficult to work with or found it hard to remember her lines, that certainly doesn’t show in the film. She is perfect as the blonde bombshell that, although seemingly a dumb blonde, is a character that is heading to Miami to sort her life out and fulfil her potential. Perhaps Monroe was trying to do the same in her personal life through her acting. It is very sad to think that only three years later, Marilyn Monroe would be dead.
Monroe, Curtis and Lemmon work so well on screen that you can imagine them all being friends in real life. Some Like It Hot is a timeless comedy, with humour that is still very funny, and it certainly is a Golden Oldie.
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