Some Like It Hot


2h 1959
Some Like It Hot

Brief Synopsis

Two musicians on the run from gangsters masquerade as members of an all-girl band.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Crime
Period
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Mar 1959
Premiere Information
New York opening: 29 Mar 1959
Production Company
Ashton Productions, Inc.; The Mirisch Company, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Los Angeles, California, USA; San Diego, California, USA; Goldwyn Studios, Hollywood, California, USA; Hotel del Coronado, San Diego, California, USA; San Diego, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
2h
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1
Film Length
10,710ft

Synopsis

In Chicago, in February, 1929, federal agent Mulligan sets up a raid on a speakeasy run by notorious bootlegger "Spats" Colombo, based on information provided by small-time gangster "Toothpick" Charlie. As Mulligan inspects the lively speakeasy, two members of the band, saxophonist Joe and bass player Jerry eagerly discuss plans for their salary from their first job in four months. The longtime friends begin arguing about how to spend their salary until Jerry notices Mulligan's badge and they make a hasty exit as the raid begins, avoiding the police roundup. Putting up their coats as collateral, they place a bet with their bookie, and promptly lose both the bet and their coats. Desperate, Joe and Jerry visit the musicians' agency building hoping to line up another job. At Sid Poliakoff's agency, receptionist Nellie Weinmeier, incensed over being stood up by Joe a few nights earlier, reveals there is an opening for a bass and sax with a band in an all-expenses paid trip to Florida. Joe and Jerry eagerly question Sid, only to learn that the positions are in an all-girl band. Sid tells them of a job at a college dance in Urbana and Joe accepts, then charms Nellie into loaning them her car for the Urbana gig. Retrieving the car at a garage owned by Toothpick Charlie, Joe and Jerry unintentionally witness Spats and his men shoot Charlie and his men to death for informing on the speakeasy. Although the musicians are spotted by Spats, he is distracted by Charlie, who revives long enough to allow Joe and Jerry to flee. After they evade the gangsters, Jerry suggests they call the police, but Joe reminds him they will not be safe from Spats in any part of Chicago in spite of the police. Joe then telephones Sid and, using a high falsetto voice, accepts the job with the all-girl band. That evening at the train station, Joe and Jerry, uncomfortably disguised as women, check in with band leader Sweet Sue and manager Beinstock as the newest members of the Society Syncopators, Joe as Josephine and Jerry as Daphne. Once on board the train, Joe fears that Jerry's enthusiasm at finding himself among so many women will expose them and warns his friend to behave "like a girl," but in the process, musses Jerry's outfit. Retreating to the ladies' room for repairs, the men come upon stunning singer and ukulele player Sugar Kane Kowalczyk drinking bourbon from a flask. Sugar pleads with them not to report her to Sue, who has threatened to fire her if she is caught drinking again. A little later during rehearsal, when Sugar's flask falls to the floor, Sue responds angrily, but Jerry steps forward, and to Sugar's surprise, claims the flask is his own. That night, Sugar sneaks to Jerry's berth to thank him for his action, then abruptly jumps into the berth to avoid Sue. Overwhelmed by Sugar's proximity, Jerry grows anxious and suggests that he needs a drink and within minutes an impromptu party ensues at Jerry's berth. Joe awakens and is horrified, but gets drawn into the festivities when Sugar asks him to help break up an ice block in the ladies' room. There Sugar confides that she is with the all-girl band in order to escape a series of unhappy love affairs with tenor saxophone players and dreams of finding a sensitive millionaire who wears glasses. Upon arriving in Florida at the beachfront Ritz Seminole Hotel, "Daphne" catches the attention of wealthy, oft-married Osgood Fielding III. Once in their room, Jerry, infuriated at being flirted with and pinched by Osgood, demands they give up their disguises and find a male band, but Joe insists they must maintain their masquerade, as Spats will surely investigate male orchestras all over the country. Jerry reluctantly agrees and then accompanies Sugar to the beach. Unknown to Jerry, Joe has stolen Beinstock's suitcase of clothes and eyeglasses and, dressing in them, goes to the beach where he stages an accidental meeting with Sugar. Joe implies that he is the heir to the Shell Oil company and, captivated by the apparently sensitive "Junior," Sugar invites him to the band's opening that night. Back in their room, Jerry receives a call from Osgood inviting Daphne to a candlelit dinner on board his yacht. Joe accepts for Jerry, then tells his protesting friend that he must keep the date with Osgood on shore, as he, in the guise of Shell Oil, Junior, plans to dine with Sugar on Osgood's yacht. That night during the band's performance, Osgood sends Jerry an enormous bouquet, which Joe commandeers to give to Sugar with a card inviting her to dine with Junior. Afterward, Joe meets Sugar on the pier as an unhappy Jerry talks Osgood into dining at a local roadhouse. While Jerry and Osgood tango to the music of a Cuban band at the roadhouse, on board Osgood's yacht Joe convinces Sugar that a romantic emotional shock in his youth has left him impotent and years of expensive medical treatment have failed to cure him. Appalled, Sugar begs Joe to allow her to help, but after numerous passionate kisses, Joe insists he is unmoved. Determined, Sugar pleads to keep trying and Joe agrees. At dawn, Joe climbs back in the window of the hotel room to find Jerry deliriously happy because Osgood has proposed. Taken aback, Joe tells his friend it is impossible for him to marry another man, but Jerry explains his plan to reveal his identity after the marriage ceremony and, after an annulment, force Osgood to pay him alimony. Disturbed by Jerry's high spirits, Joe urges him to remember that he is a boy, and Jerry sadly wonders what to do with Osgood's engagement gift, an extravagant diamond bracelet. The next day, gangsters from all over the country, summoned by mob boss Little Bonaparte, meet at the hotel under the guise of attending an opera convention. Mulligan is also present and when Spats arrives, accuses him of the murder of Toothpick Charlie and his gang. Upon spotting Spats in the lobby, Joe and Jerry panic and realize they must flee. In their room, Jerry laments having to give up Osgood and Joe telephones Sugar to disclose that Junior's family has ordered him to Venezuela immediately for an arranged marriage. Moved by Sugar's despair, Joe places the diamond bracelet in a box of flowers and pushes it across the hall to her door as a farewell gift from Junior. Joe and Jerry then escape out of their hotel window but are seen by Spats and his men on the floor below. When the pair dash away leaving their instruments behind, Spats finds bullet holes in Jerry's bass and realizes the "broads" are the Chicago murder witnesses in disguise. Knowing they have been discovered, Joe and Jerry dress as a bellboy and a wheelchair-bound millionaire and head across the lobby filled with Spats's men. Noticing that Jerry has inadvertently left on his high heels, the henchmen give chase and Joe and Jerry run into a convention hall and hide, unaware that the mob "convention" is scheduled to meet there. Moments later, Spats sits at the table under which Joe and Jerry are hiding, and in a prearranged plan, Bonaparte pretends to honor Spats by presenting him with a giant cake, out of which bursts an assassin who guns down Spats and his men. Terrified, Joe and Jerry bolt, but as Bonaparte orders them found, Mulligan and his men close in to make arrests. Resuming their disguises as women, Joe and Jerry overhear that the remainder of Bonaparte's men are watching all buses and trains out of town and Joe decides they should escape on Osgood's yacht after Jerry elopes with him. When Jerry balks, Joe says their only option is certain death by Bonaparte's men. While Jerry telephones Osgood to make arrangements, Joe hears Sugar and the band finishing a song and climbs onto the stage to tell her that no man is worth her heartbreak, then kisses her before hurrying away. Realizing that "Josephine" is "Junior," Sugar follows the men down to the dock and the waiting Osgood. As they all board the speedboat, Joe removes his wig and confesses that he is a liar and a phony, but Sugar insists that she does not care and the couple embrace. Meanwhile, Osgood proudly tells Daphne that his mother is delighted about their upcoming wedding. Jerry nervously confesses that he cannot marry him, declaring that he is not a natural blonde, smokes, has lived in sin and cannot bear children, but Osgood remains cheerfully undaunted. At last Jerry snatches off his wig and admits that he is a man, wherein Osgood happily assures him that, after all, "nobody's perfect."

Photo Collections

Some Like It Hot - Academy Archives
Here are archive images from Some Like It Hot (1959), courtesy of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Videos

Movie Clip

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Crime
Period
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Mar 1959
Premiere Information
New York opening: 29 Mar 1959
Production Company
Ashton Productions, Inc.; The Mirisch Company, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Los Angeles, California, USA; San Diego, California, USA; Goldwyn Studios, Hollywood, California, USA; Hotel del Coronado, San Diego, California, USA; San Diego, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
2h
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1
Film Length
10,710ft

Award Wins

Best Costume Design

1959

Award Nominations

Best Actor

1959
Jack Lemmon

Best Art Direction

1959

Best Cinematography

1959

Best Director

1959
Billy Wilder

Best Writing, Screenplay

1960
Billy Wilder

Articles

The Essentials - Some Like It Hot


Synopsis

Joe and Jerry are two hapless Chicago musicians who inadvertently witness the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. While fleeing the scene of the crime, they are seen by the gangland killers so they quickly decide to go on the lam disguised as musicians in an all-female orchestra. Their masquerade works perfectly but there are complications: Joe falls for the band's kooky lead singer, Sugar Kane (but can't reveal his true gender to her), Jerry meets an amorous millionaire who won't accept "no" for his marriage proposal, and the band ends up in Miami where Joe and Jerry encounter the mobsters on their trail.

Producer/Director: Billy Wilder
Screenplay: Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond
Set Design: Edward G. Boyle
Cinematography: Charles B. Lang
Costume Design: Orry-Kelly
Film Editing: Arthur P. Schmidt
Original Music: Adolph Deutsch
Cast: Marilyn Monroe (Sugar Kane); Tony Curtis (Joe/Josephine); Jack Lemmon (Jerry/Daphne); George Raft (Spats Colombo); Joe E. Brown (Osgood Fielding III).
BW-122m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

Why Some Like It Hot is Essential

When Jack Lemmon died on June 27, 2001, he left behind a legacy of more than 60 film roles, including some of the most indelible portraits of the modern American male ever committed to celluloid. But even given his Oscar®-winning roles in Mister Roberts (1955) and Save the Tiger (1973), one of the images that will forever pop into people's heads is Lemmon in blonde wig, bee-stung lips, and a sequenced flapper dress. In fact, when Lemmon and Tony Curtis appeared together in 1999 for a Vanity Fair photo spread about Hollywood, they did it partially in drag since their roles as Daphne and Josephine in Some Like It Hot are forever linked in the memories of film lovers everywhere.

Running the gamut from broad slapstick to sly sexual innuendo, Some Like It Hot was considered a risky venture when it was released in 1959. This was due to its outrageous sense of humor, which had the potential to offend viewers and risk being viewed as an exercise in bad taste. Yet it was also one of the most successful films of the year and continues to elicit wild laughter, even after repeated viewings. It is certainly the funniest movie ever made by Billy Wilder, a director who was best known (at that time) for dark dramas like Double Indemnit (1944) and Sunset Boulevard (1950). With dead-on performances from Lemmon, Curtis (who also does a perfect Cary Grant imitation) and Marilyn Monroe, Wilder mixed black comedy, nostalgia for the silent era, over-the-top physical humor, and a fine sense of period detail to turn what might have been a smutty one-joke chase movie into a classic of the American screen.

Perhaps because it was so fast and funny, audiences and arbiters of taste and morals didn't notice all the winks toward free love, homosexuality, and reversal of gender roles. Or maybe they were ready for it. In any case, besides producing a film whose humor holds up more than 40 years later, Wilder also prefigured contemporary tastes by presenting the story of two men who cross-dress reluctantly at first but end up discovering entirely new sides to their personalities. In the process, they develop a greater sensitivity toward women but also contemplate their own stereotypical male behavior.

Luckily Wilder and his cast and crew had confidence the film would work, despite some evidence to the contrary. It previewed disastrously in a Pacific Palisades theater in December 1958 on the same bill as Suddenly Last Summer (1959), Tennessee Williams' perverse tale of taboo sexual urges, lobotomy, and cannibalism. Not exactly a laugh-riot opening feature for Wilder's comedy. In the entire audience of 800 people, only one person laughed; it turned out to be comic and TV host Steve Allen. Yet, according to Jack Lemmon, in an interview with TCM host Robert Osborne, Wilder cut only one scene, a brief bit between Curtis and Monroe that had no effect on the overall structure, plot, or humor. The movie was previewed again, this time in Westwood. The audience began laughing at the very first scene and never let up for the entire two-hour running time. They've been laughing ever since.

The inspiration for the film was a German movie musical entitled Fanfares of Love in which two unemployed musicians constantly change costumes in order to get work with different types of bands. In one sequence, the two musicians dress up as girls to play in a women's orchestra and it was this scene which writer/director Billy Wilder lifted as his central premise, adding a gangster subplot which keeps the two musicians on the run. (They accidentally witness the St. Valentine's Day Massacre and are stalked by the killers). Initially, director Billy Wilder envisioned Danny Kaye and Bob Hope as the two male leads. Over time, he dropped this casting idea and toyed with the idea of using two lesser-known but promising young actors: Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. Wilder had just seen Lemmon, a relative newcomer, in the comedy, Operation Mad Ball (1957), and thought he would make a great Jerry/Daphne. Curtis, on the other hand, had been acting in films since 1949 but finally proved he was a real actor in Sweet Smell of Success (1957). Wilder thought Curtis might be just right for Joe/Josephine and Curtis jumped at the opportunity to work with the director. Then, Frank Sinatra expressed an interest in playing the Jerry/Daphne role and the Lemmon-Curtis teaming was put on hold. Wilder needed a major star for box office insurance and Sinatra was his ace in the hole. At the same time, Mitzi Gaynor was being pursued for the role of Sugar, the female bandleader, until Marilyn Monroe began campaigning for the part. As luck would have it, Sinatra passed on the project but Monroe officially signed on for the film, giving Wilder the superstar he needed for studio financing and clearing the way for Lemmon and Curtis as the male leads.

As soon as the contracts were signed, doubts and problems arose. Jack Lemmon said, "A lot of people thought Billy was crazy to attempt such a film. Friends told me I could be ruined because the audience would think I was faggy or had a yen to be a transvestite. There was no getting around one thing; the picture was a minefield for actors. I finally decided the real trap was to ever think of the trap. If one began to worry about that fine line, to fret over audience reaction, it could be disastrous. The only way to play it was to let it all hang out and just go, trusting that Wilder would say, 'Cut,' if it got out of bounds. I saw this character I was to play as a nut from the moon who never really stopped to think once in his life...How else was it possible to justify a guy who, because he's dressed like a woman, delivers a line like: 'If those gangsters come in here and kill us, and we're taken to the morgue dressed like this I'll die of embarrassment.'"

Tony Curtis had a much more difficult time adjusting to the cross-dressing aspect of his character. According to Wilder, "When we were testing costumes and the boys got into their dresses and wigs, Jack came out of his room floating ten feet high, completely normal and natural. Tony didn't dare to come out, he was so embarrassed by the whole thing. Lemmon had to take him by the hand and drag him out. It was natural to the one; there were inhibitions in the other." But whatever reservations either actor may have had about their roles, they are both hilarious and unforgettable in the film.

The real stumbling block to the movie's shooting schedule was Marilyn Monroe. Her personal problems and doubts about her own acting abilities played havoc with the production. She fought with Wilder over creative aspects (She wanted the film to be shot in color because she didn't like the way she looked in black and white), would arrive late to the set, and demanded constant retakes. Wilder said, "Sometimes this stretched out to three days something that we could have completed in an hour, because after every bad take Marilyn began to cry, and there would have to be new makeup applied." In addition, Marilyn often didn't know her lines and her dialogue had to be written on cue cards or taped on props. A simple line like "Where is that bourbon" might take as many as forty takes. Yet, somehow Monroe successfully completed the film and you'd never suspect from watching her delightful performance that she was a total nightmare on the set.

Some Like It Hot was nominated for six Academy Awards® including Best Actor (Jack Lemmon - he lost to Charlton Heston in Ben-Hur), Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and Best Costume Design. But on the night of the Awards ceremony, it only won one Oscar® - for Best Costume Design by Orry-Kelly, the famous gown fashioner who was a favorite of Bette Davis and other actresses. (He also won Best Costume Design Oscars for An American in Paris (1951) and Les Girl, 1957). In retrospect, some of the Oscar® nominations that year seem unjustified - Doris Day for Best Actress in Pillow Talk? Operation Petticoat for Best Screenplay? But time is the great leveler. Some Like It Hot has developed a hard-core cult audience that grows with each passing year.

by Rob Nixon
The Essentials - Some Like It Hot

The Essentials - Some Like It Hot

Synopsis Joe and Jerry are two hapless Chicago musicians who inadvertently witness the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. While fleeing the scene of the crime, they are seen by the gangland killers so they quickly decide to go on the lam disguised as musicians in an all-female orchestra. Their masquerade works perfectly but there are complications: Joe falls for the band's kooky lead singer, Sugar Kane (but can't reveal his true gender to her), Jerry meets an amorous millionaire who won't accept "no" for his marriage proposal, and the band ends up in Miami where Joe and Jerry encounter the mobsters on their trail. Producer/Director: Billy Wilder Screenplay: Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond Set Design: Edward G. Boyle Cinematography: Charles B. Lang Costume Design: Orry-Kelly Film Editing: Arthur P. Schmidt Original Music: Adolph Deutsch Cast: Marilyn Monroe (Sugar Kane); Tony Curtis (Joe/Josephine); Jack Lemmon (Jerry/Daphne); George Raft (Spats Colombo); Joe E. Brown (Osgood Fielding III). BW-122m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. Why Some Like It Hot is Essential When Jack Lemmon died on June 27, 2001, he left behind a legacy of more than 60 film roles, including some of the most indelible portraits of the modern American male ever committed to celluloid. But even given his Oscar®-winning roles in Mister Roberts (1955) and Save the Tiger (1973), one of the images that will forever pop into people's heads is Lemmon in blonde wig, bee-stung lips, and a sequenced flapper dress. In fact, when Lemmon and Tony Curtis appeared together in 1999 for a Vanity Fair photo spread about Hollywood, they did it partially in drag since their roles as Daphne and Josephine in Some Like It Hot are forever linked in the memories of film lovers everywhere. Running the gamut from broad slapstick to sly sexual innuendo, Some Like It Hot was considered a risky venture when it was released in 1959. This was due to its outrageous sense of humor, which had the potential to offend viewers and risk being viewed as an exercise in bad taste. Yet it was also one of the most successful films of the year and continues to elicit wild laughter, even after repeated viewings. It is certainly the funniest movie ever made by Billy Wilder, a director who was best known (at that time) for dark dramas like Double Indemnit (1944) and Sunset Boulevard (1950). With dead-on performances from Lemmon, Curtis (who also does a perfect Cary Grant imitation) and Marilyn Monroe, Wilder mixed black comedy, nostalgia for the silent era, over-the-top physical humor, and a fine sense of period detail to turn what might have been a smutty one-joke chase movie into a classic of the American screen. Perhaps because it was so fast and funny, audiences and arbiters of taste and morals didn't notice all the winks toward free love, homosexuality, and reversal of gender roles. Or maybe they were ready for it. In any case, besides producing a film whose humor holds up more than 40 years later, Wilder also prefigured contemporary tastes by presenting the story of two men who cross-dress reluctantly at first but end up discovering entirely new sides to their personalities. In the process, they develop a greater sensitivity toward women but also contemplate their own stereotypical male behavior. Luckily Wilder and his cast and crew had confidence the film would work, despite some evidence to the contrary. It previewed disastrously in a Pacific Palisades theater in December 1958 on the same bill as Suddenly Last Summer (1959), Tennessee Williams' perverse tale of taboo sexual urges, lobotomy, and cannibalism. Not exactly a laugh-riot opening feature for Wilder's comedy. In the entire audience of 800 people, only one person laughed; it turned out to be comic and TV host Steve Allen. Yet, according to Jack Lemmon, in an interview with TCM host Robert Osborne, Wilder cut only one scene, a brief bit between Curtis and Monroe that had no effect on the overall structure, plot, or humor. The movie was previewed again, this time in Westwood. The audience began laughing at the very first scene and never let up for the entire two-hour running time. They've been laughing ever since. The inspiration for the film was a German movie musical entitled Fanfares of Love in which two unemployed musicians constantly change costumes in order to get work with different types of bands. In one sequence, the two musicians dress up as girls to play in a women's orchestra and it was this scene which writer/director Billy Wilder lifted as his central premise, adding a gangster subplot which keeps the two musicians on the run. (They accidentally witness the St. Valentine's Day Massacre and are stalked by the killers). Initially, director Billy Wilder envisioned Danny Kaye and Bob Hope as the two male leads. Over time, he dropped this casting idea and toyed with the idea of using two lesser-known but promising young actors: Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. Wilder had just seen Lemmon, a relative newcomer, in the comedy, Operation Mad Ball (1957), and thought he would make a great Jerry/Daphne. Curtis, on the other hand, had been acting in films since 1949 but finally proved he was a real actor in Sweet Smell of Success (1957). Wilder thought Curtis might be just right for Joe/Josephine and Curtis jumped at the opportunity to work with the director. Then, Frank Sinatra expressed an interest in playing the Jerry/Daphne role and the Lemmon-Curtis teaming was put on hold. Wilder needed a major star for box office insurance and Sinatra was his ace in the hole. At the same time, Mitzi Gaynor was being pursued for the role of Sugar, the female bandleader, until Marilyn Monroe began campaigning for the part. As luck would have it, Sinatra passed on the project but Monroe officially signed on for the film, giving Wilder the superstar he needed for studio financing and clearing the way for Lemmon and Curtis as the male leads. As soon as the contracts were signed, doubts and problems arose. Jack Lemmon said, "A lot of people thought Billy was crazy to attempt such a film. Friends told me I could be ruined because the audience would think I was faggy or had a yen to be a transvestite. There was no getting around one thing; the picture was a minefield for actors. I finally decided the real trap was to ever think of the trap. If one began to worry about that fine line, to fret over audience reaction, it could be disastrous. The only way to play it was to let it all hang out and just go, trusting that Wilder would say, 'Cut,' if it got out of bounds. I saw this character I was to play as a nut from the moon who never really stopped to think once in his life...How else was it possible to justify a guy who, because he's dressed like a woman, delivers a line like: 'If those gangsters come in here and kill us, and we're taken to the morgue dressed like this I'll die of embarrassment.'" Tony Curtis had a much more difficult time adjusting to the cross-dressing aspect of his character. According to Wilder, "When we were testing costumes and the boys got into their dresses and wigs, Jack came out of his room floating ten feet high, completely normal and natural. Tony didn't dare to come out, he was so embarrassed by the whole thing. Lemmon had to take him by the hand and drag him out. It was natural to the one; there were inhibitions in the other." But whatever reservations either actor may have had about their roles, they are both hilarious and unforgettable in the film. The real stumbling block to the movie's shooting schedule was Marilyn Monroe. Her personal problems and doubts about her own acting abilities played havoc with the production. She fought with Wilder over creative aspects (She wanted the film to be shot in color because she didn't like the way she looked in black and white), would arrive late to the set, and demanded constant retakes. Wilder said, "Sometimes this stretched out to three days something that we could have completed in an hour, because after every bad take Marilyn began to cry, and there would have to be new makeup applied." In addition, Marilyn often didn't know her lines and her dialogue had to be written on cue cards or taped on props. A simple line like "Where is that bourbon" might take as many as forty takes. Yet, somehow Monroe successfully completed the film and you'd never suspect from watching her delightful performance that she was a total nightmare on the set. Some Like It Hot was nominated for six Academy Awards® including Best Actor (Jack Lemmon - he lost to Charlton Heston in Ben-Hur), Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and Best Costume Design. But on the night of the Awards ceremony, it only won one Oscar® - for Best Costume Design by Orry-Kelly, the famous gown fashioner who was a favorite of Bette Davis and other actresses. (He also won Best Costume Design Oscars for An American in Paris (1951) and Les Girl, 1957). In retrospect, some of the Oscar® nominations that year seem unjustified - Doris Day for Best Actress in Pillow Talk? Operation Petticoat for Best Screenplay? But time is the great leveler. Some Like It Hot has developed a hard-core cult audience that grows with each passing year. by Rob Nixon

Pop Culture 101 - Some Like It Hot


At one point in Some Like It Hot, George Raft asks a coin-flipping thug where he picked up such a stupid trick. Raft had introduced the gimmick in the gangster film Scarface (1932).

Some Like It Hot inspired the Broadway musical, Sugar, directed by Gower Champion, music and lyrics by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill. It opened in April 1972 and ran for 505 performances.

In Ski Party (1965), one of several films in the popular Beach Party series for American International Pictures, Frankie Avalon and Dwayne Hickman masquerade as women so they can spy on their girlfriends during a ski lodge getaway. The two actors obviously studied Lemmon and Curtis in Some Like It Hot since many of their mannerisms and vocal inflections are very similar to the stars of Wilder's picture.

Although not directly related, there are enough similarities between Some Like It Hot and Tootsie (1982) to note the obvious influences the Wilder comedy had on the later film: an entertainer cross-dresses in order to get a job; a blonde performer treated like a sex object always falls for the wrong man; while disguised as a woman, a man learns what the object of his desire really wants in a man, and when he appears before her as a man he tries to use that information to win her; a man disguised as a woman ends up nervously sharing a bed with the sexy woman performing in the same show; a man becomes a more sensitive, caring person as a result of his cross-dressing experience.

by Rob Nixon

Pop Culture 101 - Some Like It Hot

At one point in Some Like It Hot, George Raft asks a coin-flipping thug where he picked up such a stupid trick. Raft had introduced the gimmick in the gangster film Scarface (1932). Some Like It Hot inspired the Broadway musical, Sugar, directed by Gower Champion, music and lyrics by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill. It opened in April 1972 and ran for 505 performances. In Ski Party (1965), one of several films in the popular Beach Party series for American International Pictures, Frankie Avalon and Dwayne Hickman masquerade as women so they can spy on their girlfriends during a ski lodge getaway. The two actors obviously studied Lemmon and Curtis in Some Like It Hot since many of their mannerisms and vocal inflections are very similar to the stars of Wilder's picture. Although not directly related, there are enough similarities between Some Like It Hot and Tootsie (1982) to note the obvious influences the Wilder comedy had on the later film: an entertainer cross-dresses in order to get a job; a blonde performer treated like a sex object always falls for the wrong man; while disguised as a woman, a man learns what the object of his desire really wants in a man, and when he appears before her as a man he tries to use that information to win her; a man disguised as a woman ends up nervously sharing a bed with the sexy woman performing in the same show; a man becomes a more sensitive, caring person as a result of his cross-dressing experience. by Rob Nixon

Trivia - Some Like It Hot - Trivia & Fun Facts About SOME LIKE IT HOT


Various estimates have put the cost of making Some Like It Hot at anywhere from $2.8 to 3.5 million. Recent figures say the film has earned about $25 million in domestic rentals alone. In its first year of release, it made between $7 and 8 million (in the U.S.) and was 1959's third-highest-grossing movie (behind Auntie Mame (1958) and The Shaggy Dog, 1959). It was the all-time top-grossing comedy up to that point.

For her participation in the film, Marilyn Monroe received $100,000 plus an historic ten percent of the gross profits.

Censors in Kansas decided the film contained material "regarded as too disturbing" for people of the state. They didn't object to the cross-dressing but wanted to cut some of the more intimate scenes between Monroe and Curtis.

The Florida section of the film was shot at Coronado Beach, California, and the Coronado Hotel, an old Victorian structure with big verandas. The location is evident in some scenes in which mountains can be discerned behind the beach. There are no mountains in Florida.

In Some Like It Hot, George Raft's character, Spats Colombo, is killed by Edward G. Robinson, Jr., son of the Warner Brothers star who memorably portrayed such movie gangsters as Little Caesar (1930).

Jack Lemmon owed Columbia Pictures one more movie on his contract. In order to be released to do Some Like It Hot, he had to promise the studio four more pictures.

Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond collaborated on one film, Love in the Afternoon (1957), before this one. After Some Like It Hot they made 10 more movies together, including the Best Picture Oscar® winner The Apartment (1960). In fact, for the remainder of his career, Diamond worked with Wilder on all but one film, Cactus Flower (1969).

Lemmon called Wilder one of the greatest influences on his career. The two made a total of seven pictures together.

Once they got their drag look down, Lemmon and Curtis decided to test it by going to the ladies room at the studio commissary. According to Lemmon, "not one of the girls going in or out ever batted an eyeball! They thought we were extras doing a period film on the lot."

During the filming of Some Like It Hot, Marilyn Monroe preferred a dress designed for Jack Lemmon over one of her own, so she claimed it for herself. Designer Orry-Kelly flew into a rage and ran screaming to Lemmon, "She took your dress! The bitch has pinched your dress!"

Memorable Quotes from SOME LIKE IT HOT

Sugar (Marilyn Monroe): "I always get the fuzzy end of the lollipop."

Jerry (Jack Lemmon): "Dirty old man. ... I just got pinched in the elevator."
Joe (Tony Curtis): "Well, now you know how the other half lives."

Jerry: "I'm not even pretty."
Joe: "They don't care, just so long as you're wearing a skirt. It's like waving a red flag in front of a bull."
Jerry: "Well, I'm sick of being a flag. I want to be a bull again."

Jerry: " I'm engaged."
Joe: "Congratulations. Who's the lucky girl?"
Jerry: " I am!"

Joe: "You're not a girl! You're a guy! Why would a guy wanna marry a guy?"
Jerry: "Security!"

Joe: "What are you gonna do on your honeymoon?"
Jerry: "He wants to go to the Riviera but I kinda lean towards Niagara Falls."

Sugar: "Water polo, isn't that dangerous?"
Joe: "It sure is. I had two ponies drowned under me."

Jerry: "Now you've done it! Now you've done it! You tore off one of my chests."

Jerry: "I tell you, Joe, they're on to us. And they're going to line us up against the wall ... then the cops are going to find two dead dames and they're going to take us to the ladies' morgue and when they undress us, I tell you, Joe, I'll die of shame."

Jerry (explaining why he can't marry Osgood): "You don't understand, Osgood! Aaah... I'm a man!"
Osgood (Joe E. Brown): "Well, nobody's perfect!"

Compiled by Rob Nixon

Trivia - Some Like It Hot - Trivia & Fun Facts About SOME LIKE IT HOT

Various estimates have put the cost of making Some Like It Hot at anywhere from $2.8 to 3.5 million. Recent figures say the film has earned about $25 million in domestic rentals alone. In its first year of release, it made between $7 and 8 million (in the U.S.) and was 1959's third-highest-grossing movie (behind Auntie Mame (1958) and The Shaggy Dog, 1959). It was the all-time top-grossing comedy up to that point. For her participation in the film, Marilyn Monroe received $100,000 plus an historic ten percent of the gross profits. Censors in Kansas decided the film contained material "regarded as too disturbing" for people of the state. They didn't object to the cross-dressing but wanted to cut some of the more intimate scenes between Monroe and Curtis. The Florida section of the film was shot at Coronado Beach, California, and the Coronado Hotel, an old Victorian structure with big verandas. The location is evident in some scenes in which mountains can be discerned behind the beach. There are no mountains in Florida. In Some Like It Hot, George Raft's character, Spats Colombo, is killed by Edward G. Robinson, Jr., son of the Warner Brothers star who memorably portrayed such movie gangsters as Little Caesar (1930). Jack Lemmon owed Columbia Pictures one more movie on his contract. In order to be released to do Some Like It Hot, he had to promise the studio four more pictures. Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond collaborated on one film, Love in the Afternoon (1957), before this one. After Some Like It Hot they made 10 more movies together, including the Best Picture Oscar® winner The Apartment (1960). In fact, for the remainder of his career, Diamond worked with Wilder on all but one film, Cactus Flower (1969). Lemmon called Wilder one of the greatest influences on his career. The two made a total of seven pictures together. Once they got their drag look down, Lemmon and Curtis decided to test it by going to the ladies room at the studio commissary. According to Lemmon, "not one of the girls going in or out ever batted an eyeball! They thought we were extras doing a period film on the lot." During the filming of Some Like It Hot, Marilyn Monroe preferred a dress designed for Jack Lemmon over one of her own, so she claimed it for herself. Designer Orry-Kelly flew into a rage and ran screaming to Lemmon, "She took your dress! The bitch has pinched your dress!" Memorable Quotes from SOME LIKE IT HOT Sugar (Marilyn Monroe): "I always get the fuzzy end of the lollipop." Jerry (Jack Lemmon): "Dirty old man. ... I just got pinched in the elevator." Joe (Tony Curtis): "Well, now you know how the other half lives." Jerry: "I'm not even pretty." Joe: "They don't care, just so long as you're wearing a skirt. It's like waving a red flag in front of a bull." Jerry: "Well, I'm sick of being a flag. I want to be a bull again." Jerry: " I'm engaged." Joe: "Congratulations. Who's the lucky girl?" Jerry: " I am!" Joe: "You're not a girl! You're a guy! Why would a guy wanna marry a guy?" Jerry: "Security!" Joe: "What are you gonna do on your honeymoon?" Jerry: "He wants to go to the Riviera but I kinda lean towards Niagara Falls." Sugar: "Water polo, isn't that dangerous?" Joe: "It sure is. I had two ponies drowned under me." Jerry: "Now you've done it! Now you've done it! You tore off one of my chests." Jerry: "I tell you, Joe, they're on to us. And they're going to line us up against the wall ... then the cops are going to find two dead dames and they're going to take us to the ladies' morgue and when they undress us, I tell you, Joe, I'll die of shame." Jerry (explaining why he can't marry Osgood): "You don't understand, Osgood! Aaah... I'm a man!" Osgood (Joe E. Brown): "Well, nobody's perfect!" Compiled by Rob Nixon

The Big Idea - Some Like It Hot


In 1955, Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond met at a Writers Guild dinner. Wilder had collaborated on scripts with a number of other writers since splitting with his longtime partner Charles Brackett in 1950. He was impressed with Diamond's skits for the guild dinner, and since Diamond already had more than a dozen film scripts to his credit, including the Cary Grant-Ginger Rogers-Marilyn Monroe comedy Monkey Business (1952), Wilder asked him if he would be interested in co-writing a movie. They were very different men ¿- Wilder the extrovert, Diamond the shy, quiet one ¿ - but they found they shared the same sense of humor and a penchant for chain-smoking, liberal politics, bridge, and old movies. Their first project was the Audrey Hepburn-Gary Cooper romance Love in the Afternoon (1957). When Wilder began work on his next picture, Witness for the Prosecution (1957), he chose Harry Kurnitz, a writer he thought more suitable for the very British whodunnit. But he came back to Diamond with a project he'd been kicking around for years.

Wilder wanted to make a film based on the German movie musical Fanfares of Love (1935), co-authored by Robert Thoeren, a friend of his in pre-Hitler Berlin. The story involved two unemployed musicians who disguise themselves in various ways ¿ as black men, gypsies, women ¿ to get work in different orchestras. Wilder bought the rights to the broadly comic property, but the only thing he and Diamond kept was the premise of two male musicians joining an all-female band. By the time he was ready to make Some Like It Hot, Wilder had dropped his original idea of casting Bob Hope and Danny Kaye in the leads and was leaning toward an up-and-coming young actor. Spotting Jack Lemmon at a restaurant one night, Wilder walked up to him, explained the basic story and asked if the actor was interested. Lemmon said "okay."

Wilder had already approached Tony Curtis after seeing his performance in Sweet Smell of Success (1957), and Curtis jumped at the chance. For the role of Sugar Kane, the ditzy blonde singing star of the orchestra, Wilder initially pursued musical star Mitzi Gaynor. But since none of the three actors under consideration were proven box office stars at the time, Wilder and Diamond thought about tailoring the part of Daphne for Frank Sinatra, who liked the story when he first heard it. Luckily, nothing came of that. In the meantime, Marilyn Monroe, who was without a doubt a superstar at the time, became available and was interested. With Monroe committed to the project, Some Like It Hot finally had the marquee value it needed, and Wilder went forward with Lemmon and Curtis.

In the minds of many people in Hollywood, marquee value was the least of Wilder's problems. When he described the plot to David O. Selznick, the prestigious producer of Gone With the Wind (1939) told him he was nuts to consider making a movie that started with the St. Valentine's Day Massacre then segued into broad gags. "Blood and jokes do not mix," Selznick insisted, having little effect on Wilder's determination.

Although the two always had a strict rule about who wrote which line, Wilder always credited Diamond with the film's justly famous closing line. The original ending, suggested by Monroe, was to have been a fade-out with Sugar and Spats (George Raft) doing a tango together. But Monroe's unpredictability made Wilder seek a solution that wouldn't require shooting ONE MORE SCENE with her. The night before the ending had to be shot, Diamond came up with the idea of having Jerry (Lemmon) as Daphne on a motorboat speeding away from Miami with his rich older suitor, played by veteran comic Joe E. Brown. Daphne tries a number of ways to explain to Osgood why "she" can't marry him, but the undaunted millionaire overlooks them all. Finally Jerry tears off his wig and says in exasperation, "Aah, I'm a man." Osgood amiably replies, "Well, nobody's perfect!" "This line is entirely from the brain of I.A.L. Diamond," Wilder said. "I had nothing to do with it. Not even the exclamation point!"

by Rob Nixon

The Big Idea - Some Like It Hot

In 1955, Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond met at a Writers Guild dinner. Wilder had collaborated on scripts with a number of other writers since splitting with his longtime partner Charles Brackett in 1950. He was impressed with Diamond's skits for the guild dinner, and since Diamond already had more than a dozen film scripts to his credit, including the Cary Grant-Ginger Rogers-Marilyn Monroe comedy Monkey Business (1952), Wilder asked him if he would be interested in co-writing a movie. They were very different men ¿- Wilder the extrovert, Diamond the shy, quiet one ¿ - but they found they shared the same sense of humor and a penchant for chain-smoking, liberal politics, bridge, and old movies. Their first project was the Audrey Hepburn-Gary Cooper romance Love in the Afternoon (1957). When Wilder began work on his next picture, Witness for the Prosecution (1957), he chose Harry Kurnitz, a writer he thought more suitable for the very British whodunnit. But he came back to Diamond with a project he'd been kicking around for years. Wilder wanted to make a film based on the German movie musical Fanfares of Love (1935), co-authored by Robert Thoeren, a friend of his in pre-Hitler Berlin. The story involved two unemployed musicians who disguise themselves in various ways ¿ as black men, gypsies, women ¿ to get work in different orchestras. Wilder bought the rights to the broadly comic property, but the only thing he and Diamond kept was the premise of two male musicians joining an all-female band. By the time he was ready to make Some Like It Hot, Wilder had dropped his original idea of casting Bob Hope and Danny Kaye in the leads and was leaning toward an up-and-coming young actor. Spotting Jack Lemmon at a restaurant one night, Wilder walked up to him, explained the basic story and asked if the actor was interested. Lemmon said "okay." Wilder had already approached Tony Curtis after seeing his performance in Sweet Smell of Success (1957), and Curtis jumped at the chance. For the role of Sugar Kane, the ditzy blonde singing star of the orchestra, Wilder initially pursued musical star Mitzi Gaynor. But since none of the three actors under consideration were proven box office stars at the time, Wilder and Diamond thought about tailoring the part of Daphne for Frank Sinatra, who liked the story when he first heard it. Luckily, nothing came of that. In the meantime, Marilyn Monroe, who was without a doubt a superstar at the time, became available and was interested. With Monroe committed to the project, Some Like It Hot finally had the marquee value it needed, and Wilder went forward with Lemmon and Curtis. In the minds of many people in Hollywood, marquee value was the least of Wilder's problems. When he described the plot to David O. Selznick, the prestigious producer of Gone With the Wind (1939) told him he was nuts to consider making a movie that started with the St. Valentine's Day Massacre then segued into broad gags. "Blood and jokes do not mix," Selznick insisted, having little effect on Wilder's determination. Although the two always had a strict rule about who wrote which line, Wilder always credited Diamond with the film's justly famous closing line. The original ending, suggested by Monroe, was to have been a fade-out with Sugar and Spats (George Raft) doing a tango together. But Monroe's unpredictability made Wilder seek a solution that wouldn't require shooting ONE MORE SCENE with her. The night before the ending had to be shot, Diamond came up with the idea of having Jerry (Lemmon) as Daphne on a motorboat speeding away from Miami with his rich older suitor, played by veteran comic Joe E. Brown. Daphne tries a number of ways to explain to Osgood why "she" can't marry him, but the undaunted millionaire overlooks them all. Finally Jerry tears off his wig and says in exasperation, "Aah, I'm a man." Osgood amiably replies, "Well, nobody's perfect!" "This line is entirely from the brain of I.A.L. Diamond," Wilder said. "I had nothing to do with it. Not even the exclamation point!" by Rob Nixon

Behind the Camera - Some Like It Hot


Stories about Marilyn Monroe's erratic behavior and difficulty on movie sets are so numerous and legendary that it's no surprise that Some Like It Hot was an equally problematic shoot for her. But no look at the behind-the-camera production of Some Like It Hot would be complete without at least mentioning some of the frustrations experienced by Monroe's co-stars and compatriots. Monroe was known for frequently being late - very late - or not showing up at all due to illnesses, nerves, etc. She also had problems remembering lines, which required numerous retakes on several occasions. Simple dialogue like "Where's the bourbon?" or "It's me, Sugar," had to be done again and again, with Wilder resorting to taping bits of her dialogue to props and furniture.

"We were in mid-flight, and there was a nut on board," said Wilder in reference to working with Monroe on Some Like It Hot. The director had worked with Monroe before on The Seven-Year Itch (1955) but either she was easier to work with then or Wilder's memory was short. Or, perhaps her box-office value as Sugar was so important that Wilder thought the aggravation would be worth the final result. Whatever the rationale for hiring Monroe as Sugar, problems began almost immediately on the set of the film. Wilder wanted to shoot the film in black and white because he was afraid that Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis, in their female disguises, would look too ghoulish in color. Plus, their garish appearance would also require a great suspension of disbelief by the audience in assuming that other characters in the story were not wise to their drag act. On the other hand, Monroe preferred to be photographed in color but she reluctantly gave in when a color test of the male stars revealed the director was right. Still, the incident planted the seeds of mistrust, and Monroe soon became convinced Wilder was her enemy. She was positive his professed health problems were concocted to mock her own string of illnesses. In retaliation, she would silence Wilder when he tried to give direction, telling him he would make her forget how she was going to play the scene. Other times, she'd cry when she did a bad take and run to her drama coach Paula Strasberg, holding up production for minutes, even hours, at a time. Contrary to what other directors and co-stars have said, though, Wilder didn't blame Strasberg for any of this behavior, saying she was "most cooperative in trying to pull the girl together."

Marilyn had other things on her mind, too. She learned she was pregnant when production started, and because she had miscarriages in the past, she became extra cautious about how early she arrived on the set and how long she remained there. And she was having marital problems that would eventually lead to her divorce from third husband, playwright Arthur Miller, a frequent and some say disruptive presence on the set. She was also acutely aware that at least one of her co-stars was none too happy about working with her. Tony Curtis hated that his own performance deteriorated over the course of the 30 or more takes often needed to get a good scene out of Marilyn; as a result, Wilder ended up having to use more footage of Marilyn than him. And Curtis and Lemmon, who had to kick off their shoes and soak their painful feet the second Wilder said "Cut," were usually forced to stand around in painful high heels for long periods while their co-star flubbed her lines. Curtis was quoted as saying Monroe was "a mean little seven-year-old" and that he would rather be kissing Hitler than her in their love scenes. "I think Marilyn was mad as a hatter," he said later. "If she hadn't had that sexy look and the 38-inch bust, she'd have been locked up for sure." Not that Curtis was a model of stability himself. He had been going to analysis as much as four times a week for several years. And when the time came for him to appear on the set in drag for the first time, Lemmon had to take him by the hand and literally pull him out of his dressing room.

By all accounts, Lemmon was the bright spot in the whole mess. He even got along with Monroe and forgave her eccentricities. He believed Marilyn simply couldn't go in front of the camera until she was absolutely ready. "She knew she was limited and goddamned well knew what was right for Marilyn," he said. "She wasn't about to do anything else." He also said that although she may not have been the greatest actor or singer or comedienne, she used more of her talent, brought more of her gifts to the screen than anyone he ever knew.

As for his own performance, Lemmon totally threw himself into it, spending hours with makeup technician Harry Ray to get the right look, taking tango lessons (from co-star George Raft), frustrating the professional female impersonator brought in to teach him and Curtis how to act like women (Lemmon felt that too much regal perfection would be wrong for the character and dangerously unfunny). As filming progressed, Wilder became more and more impressed with the young actor. "His unabashed forwardness was making that preposterous situation work, elevating, removing the taint of transvestism," the director remarked. Wilder said he and Diamond decided right there to work with Lemmon again and began planning for the trio's next venture, The Apartment (1960). The feeling was mutual. Lemmon praised Wilder for coming up with an ingenious bit of business for the scene where Jerry/Daphne tells Joe/Josephine he has become engaged to a millionaire. To allow for the long laughs they knew would follow each of Lemmon's outrageous remarks, Wilder handed the actor a pair of maracas and had him dance around and shake them after every line.

After shooting was completed, Wilder threw a celebration dinner at his home for cast members and friends. Marilyn Monroe was not invited. The crushed star had to have it explained to her that she had cost the production roughly half a million dollars with her delays and unprofessional behavior. Wilder had generally unkind things to say about her after this film. When asked if he would do another project with her, he replied, "My doctor and my psychiatrist ... tell me I am too old and too rich to go through this again." After reading some of the things Wilder said about her in print, Monroe called his home and told his wife to please give her husband the message - "to go f*** himself." But time ¿ and boffo box office ¿ heals all wounds. Wilder changed his tune later, commenting, "It takes a real artist to come on the set and not know her lines and yet give the performance she did." A year later, at the premiere of The Apartment, Monroe threw her arms around him, told him how much she loved the picture, and whispered that she would like to play the lead in Irma la Douce (1963), a role that eventually went to Shirley MacLaine.

by Rob Nixon

Behind the Camera - Some Like It Hot

Stories about Marilyn Monroe's erratic behavior and difficulty on movie sets are so numerous and legendary that it's no surprise that Some Like It Hot was an equally problematic shoot for her. But no look at the behind-the-camera production of Some Like It Hot would be complete without at least mentioning some of the frustrations experienced by Monroe's co-stars and compatriots. Monroe was known for frequently being late - very late - or not showing up at all due to illnesses, nerves, etc. She also had problems remembering lines, which required numerous retakes on several occasions. Simple dialogue like "Where's the bourbon?" or "It's me, Sugar," had to be done again and again, with Wilder resorting to taping bits of her dialogue to props and furniture. "We were in mid-flight, and there was a nut on board," said Wilder in reference to working with Monroe on Some Like It Hot. The director had worked with Monroe before on The Seven-Year Itch (1955) but either she was easier to work with then or Wilder's memory was short. Or, perhaps her box-office value as Sugar was so important that Wilder thought the aggravation would be worth the final result. Whatever the rationale for hiring Monroe as Sugar, problems began almost immediately on the set of the film. Wilder wanted to shoot the film in black and white because he was afraid that Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis, in their female disguises, would look too ghoulish in color. Plus, their garish appearance would also require a great suspension of disbelief by the audience in assuming that other characters in the story were not wise to their drag act. On the other hand, Monroe preferred to be photographed in color but she reluctantly gave in when a color test of the male stars revealed the director was right. Still, the incident planted the seeds of mistrust, and Monroe soon became convinced Wilder was her enemy. She was positive his professed health problems were concocted to mock her own string of illnesses. In retaliation, she would silence Wilder when he tried to give direction, telling him he would make her forget how she was going to play the scene. Other times, she'd cry when she did a bad take and run to her drama coach Paula Strasberg, holding up production for minutes, even hours, at a time. Contrary to what other directors and co-stars have said, though, Wilder didn't blame Strasberg for any of this behavior, saying she was "most cooperative in trying to pull the girl together." Marilyn had other things on her mind, too. She learned she was pregnant when production started, and because she had miscarriages in the past, she became extra cautious about how early she arrived on the set and how long she remained there. And she was having marital problems that would eventually lead to her divorce from third husband, playwright Arthur Miller, a frequent and some say disruptive presence on the set. She was also acutely aware that at least one of her co-stars was none too happy about working with her. Tony Curtis hated that his own performance deteriorated over the course of the 30 or more takes often needed to get a good scene out of Marilyn; as a result, Wilder ended up having to use more footage of Marilyn than him. And Curtis and Lemmon, who had to kick off their shoes and soak their painful feet the second Wilder said "Cut," were usually forced to stand around in painful high heels for long periods while their co-star flubbed her lines. Curtis was quoted as saying Monroe was "a mean little seven-year-old" and that he would rather be kissing Hitler than her in their love scenes. "I think Marilyn was mad as a hatter," he said later. "If she hadn't had that sexy look and the 38-inch bust, she'd have been locked up for sure." Not that Curtis was a model of stability himself. He had been going to analysis as much as four times a week for several years. And when the time came for him to appear on the set in drag for the first time, Lemmon had to take him by the hand and literally pull him out of his dressing room. By all accounts, Lemmon was the bright spot in the whole mess. He even got along with Monroe and forgave her eccentricities. He believed Marilyn simply couldn't go in front of the camera until she was absolutely ready. "She knew she was limited and goddamned well knew what was right for Marilyn," he said. "She wasn't about to do anything else." He also said that although she may not have been the greatest actor or singer or comedienne, she used more of her talent, brought more of her gifts to the screen than anyone he ever knew. As for his own performance, Lemmon totally threw himself into it, spending hours with makeup technician Harry Ray to get the right look, taking tango lessons (from co-star George Raft), frustrating the professional female impersonator brought in to teach him and Curtis how to act like women (Lemmon felt that too much regal perfection would be wrong for the character and dangerously unfunny). As filming progressed, Wilder became more and more impressed with the young actor. "His unabashed forwardness was making that preposterous situation work, elevating, removing the taint of transvestism," the director remarked. Wilder said he and Diamond decided right there to work with Lemmon again and began planning for the trio's next venture, The Apartment (1960). The feeling was mutual. Lemmon praised Wilder for coming up with an ingenious bit of business for the scene where Jerry/Daphne tells Joe/Josephine he has become engaged to a millionaire. To allow for the long laughs they knew would follow each of Lemmon's outrageous remarks, Wilder handed the actor a pair of maracas and had him dance around and shake them after every line. After shooting was completed, Wilder threw a celebration dinner at his home for cast members and friends. Marilyn Monroe was not invited. The crushed star had to have it explained to her that she had cost the production roughly half a million dollars with her delays and unprofessional behavior. Wilder had generally unkind things to say about her after this film. When asked if he would do another project with her, he replied, "My doctor and my psychiatrist ... tell me I am too old and too rich to go through this again." After reading some of the things Wilder said about her in print, Monroe called his home and told his wife to please give her husband the message - "to go f*** himself." But time ¿ and boffo box office ¿ heals all wounds. Wilder changed his tune later, commenting, "It takes a real artist to come on the set and not know her lines and yet give the performance she did." A year later, at the premiere of The Apartment, Monroe threw her arms around him, told him how much she loved the picture, and whispered that she would like to play the lead in Irma la Douce (1963), a role that eventually went to Shirley MacLaine. by Rob Nixon

Some Like it Hot - Some Like It Hot


It's hard to imagine a more perfect movie than Some Like It Hot (1959). For once, the ideal script, director, and cast came together at the right time and place to create an enduring comedy classic. Yet, Some Like It Hot came dangerously close to being a totally different movie.

The inspiration for the film was a German movie musical entitled Fanfares of Love in which two unemployed musicians constantly change costumes in order to get work with different types of bands. In one sequence, the two musicians dress up as girls to play in a women's orchestra and it was this scene which writer/director Billy Wilder lifted as his central premise, adding a gangster subplot which keeps the two musicians on the run. (They accidentally witness the St. Valentine's Day Massacre and are stalked by the killers). Initially, director Billy Wilder envisioned Danny Kaye and Bob Hope as the two male leads. Over time, he dropped this casting idea and toyed with the idea of using two lesser-known but promising young actors: Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. Wilder had just seen Lemmon, a relative newcomer, in the comedy, Operation Mad Ball (1957), and thought he would make a great Jerry/Daphne. Curtis, on the other hand, had been acting in films since 1949 but finally proved he was a real actor in Sweet Smell of Success (1957). Wilder thought Curtis might be just right for Joe/Josephine and Curtis jumped at the opportunity to work with the director. Then, Frank Sinatra expressed an interest in playing the Jerry/Daphne role and the Lemmon-Curtis teaming was put on hold. Wilder needed a major star for box office insurance and Sinatra was his ace in the hole. At the same time, Mitzi Gaynor was being pursued for the role of Sugar, the female band leader, until Marilyn Monroe began campaigning for the part. As luck would have it, Sinatra passed on the project but Monroe officially signed on for the film, giving Wilder the superstar he needed for studio financing and clearing the way for Lemmon and Curtis as the male leads.

As soon as the contracts were signed, doubts and problems arose. Jack Lemmon said, "A lot of people thought Billy was crazy to attempt such a film. Friends told me I could be ruined because the audience would think I was faggy or had a yen to be a transvestite. There was no getting around one thing; the picture was a minefield for actors. I finally decided the real trap was to ever think of the trap. If one began to worry about that fine line, to fret over audience reaction, it could be disastrous. The only way to play it was to let it all hang out and just go, trusting that Wilder would say, 'Cut,' if it got out of bounds. I saw this character I was to play as a nut from the moon who never really stopped to think once in his life...How else was it possible to justify a guy who, because he's dressed like a woman, delivers a line like: 'If those gangsters come in here and kill us, and we're taken to the morgue dressed like this I'll die of embarrassment.'"

Tony Curtis had a much more difficult time adjusting to the cross-dressing aspect of his character. According to Wilder, "When we were testing costumes and the boys got into their dresses and wigs, Jack came out of his room floating ten feet high, completely normal and natural. Tony didn't dare to come out, he was so embarrassed by the whole thing. Lemmon had to take him by the hand and drag him out. It was natural to the one; there were inhibitions in the other." But whatever reservations either actor may have had about their roles, they are both hilarious and unforgettable in the film.

The real stumbling block to the movie's shooting schedule was Marilyn Monroe. Her personal problems and doubts about her own acting abilities played havoc with the production. She fought with Wilder over creative aspects (She wanted the film to be shot in color because she didn't like the way she looked in black and white), would arrive late to the set, and demanded constant retakes. Wilder said, "Sometimes this stretched out to three days something that we could have completed in an hour, because after every bad take Marilyn began to cry, and there would have to be new makeup applied." In addition, Marilyn often didn't know her lines and her dialogue had to be written on cue cards or taped on props. A simple line like "Where is that bourbon" might take as many as forty takes. Yet, somehow Monroe successfully completed the film and you'd never suspect from watching her delightful performance that she was a total nightmare on the set.

Some Like It Hot was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Actor (Jack Lemmon - he lost to Charlton Heston in Ben-Hur), Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and Best Costume Design. But on the night of the Awards ceremony, it only won one Oscar - for Best Costume Design by Orry-Kelly, the famous gown fashioner who was a favorite of Bette Davis and other actresses. (He also won Best Costume Design Oscars for An American in Paris (1951) and Les Girls, 1957). In retrospect, some of the Oscar nominations that year seem unjustified - Doris Day for Best Actress in Pillow Talk? Operation Petticoat for Best Screenplay? But time is the great leveler. Some Like It Hot has developed a hard-core cult audience that grows with each passing year.

Producer/Director: Billy Wilder
Screenplay: Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond
Set Design: Edward Boyle
Cinematography: Charles B. Lang
Costume Design: Orry-Kelly
Film Editing: Arthur P. Schmidt
Original Music: Adolph Deutsch
Principal Cast: Marilyn Monroe (Sugar Kane); Tony Curtis (Joe/Josephine); Jack Lemmon (Jerry/Daphne); George Raft (Spats Colombo); Joe E. Brown (Osgood E. Fielding III)
BW-122m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Jeff Stafford

Some Like it Hot - Some Like It Hot

It's hard to imagine a more perfect movie than Some Like It Hot (1959). For once, the ideal script, director, and cast came together at the right time and place to create an enduring comedy classic. Yet, Some Like It Hot came dangerously close to being a totally different movie. The inspiration for the film was a German movie musical entitled Fanfares of Love in which two unemployed musicians constantly change costumes in order to get work with different types of bands. In one sequence, the two musicians dress up as girls to play in a women's orchestra and it was this scene which writer/director Billy Wilder lifted as his central premise, adding a gangster subplot which keeps the two musicians on the run. (They accidentally witness the St. Valentine's Day Massacre and are stalked by the killers). Initially, director Billy Wilder envisioned Danny Kaye and Bob Hope as the two male leads. Over time, he dropped this casting idea and toyed with the idea of using two lesser-known but promising young actors: Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. Wilder had just seen Lemmon, a relative newcomer, in the comedy, Operation Mad Ball (1957), and thought he would make a great Jerry/Daphne. Curtis, on the other hand, had been acting in films since 1949 but finally proved he was a real actor in Sweet Smell of Success (1957). Wilder thought Curtis might be just right for Joe/Josephine and Curtis jumped at the opportunity to work with the director. Then, Frank Sinatra expressed an interest in playing the Jerry/Daphne role and the Lemmon-Curtis teaming was put on hold. Wilder needed a major star for box office insurance and Sinatra was his ace in the hole. At the same time, Mitzi Gaynor was being pursued for the role of Sugar, the female band leader, until Marilyn Monroe began campaigning for the part. As luck would have it, Sinatra passed on the project but Monroe officially signed on for the film, giving Wilder the superstar he needed for studio financing and clearing the way for Lemmon and Curtis as the male leads. As soon as the contracts were signed, doubts and problems arose. Jack Lemmon said, "A lot of people thought Billy was crazy to attempt such a film. Friends told me I could be ruined because the audience would think I was faggy or had a yen to be a transvestite. There was no getting around one thing; the picture was a minefield for actors. I finally decided the real trap was to ever think of the trap. If one began to worry about that fine line, to fret over audience reaction, it could be disastrous. The only way to play it was to let it all hang out and just go, trusting that Wilder would say, 'Cut,' if it got out of bounds. I saw this character I was to play as a nut from the moon who never really stopped to think once in his life...How else was it possible to justify a guy who, because he's dressed like a woman, delivers a line like: 'If those gangsters come in here and kill us, and we're taken to the morgue dressed like this I'll die of embarrassment.'" Tony Curtis had a much more difficult time adjusting to the cross-dressing aspect of his character. According to Wilder, "When we were testing costumes and the boys got into their dresses and wigs, Jack came out of his room floating ten feet high, completely normal and natural. Tony didn't dare to come out, he was so embarrassed by the whole thing. Lemmon had to take him by the hand and drag him out. It was natural to the one; there were inhibitions in the other." But whatever reservations either actor may have had about their roles, they are both hilarious and unforgettable in the film. The real stumbling block to the movie's shooting schedule was Marilyn Monroe. Her personal problems and doubts about her own acting abilities played havoc with the production. She fought with Wilder over creative aspects (She wanted the film to be shot in color because she didn't like the way she looked in black and white), would arrive late to the set, and demanded constant retakes. Wilder said, "Sometimes this stretched out to three days something that we could have completed in an hour, because after every bad take Marilyn began to cry, and there would have to be new makeup applied." In addition, Marilyn often didn't know her lines and her dialogue had to be written on cue cards or taped on props. A simple line like "Where is that bourbon" might take as many as forty takes. Yet, somehow Monroe successfully completed the film and you'd never suspect from watching her delightful performance that she was a total nightmare on the set. Some Like It Hot was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Actor (Jack Lemmon - he lost to Charlton Heston in Ben-Hur), Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and Best Costume Design. But on the night of the Awards ceremony, it only won one Oscar - for Best Costume Design by Orry-Kelly, the famous gown fashioner who was a favorite of Bette Davis and other actresses. (He also won Best Costume Design Oscars for An American in Paris (1951) and Les Girls, 1957). In retrospect, some of the Oscar nominations that year seem unjustified - Doris Day for Best Actress in Pillow Talk? Operation Petticoat for Best Screenplay? But time is the great leveler. Some Like It Hot has developed a hard-core cult audience that grows with each passing year. Producer/Director: Billy Wilder Screenplay: Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond Set Design: Edward Boyle Cinematography: Charles B. Lang Costume Design: Orry-Kelly Film Editing: Arthur P. Schmidt Original Music: Adolph Deutsch Principal Cast: Marilyn Monroe (Sugar Kane); Tony Curtis (Joe/Josephine); Jack Lemmon (Jerry/Daphne); George Raft (Spats Colombo); Joe E. Brown (Osgood E. Fielding III) BW-122m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by Jeff Stafford

Critics' Corner - Some Like It Hot


Awards & Honors

Orry-Kelly won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design of a Black-and-White Picture. Accepting his Oscar for Some Like It Hot, he thanked Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis, "who, as Louella (Parsons) would say, never looked lovelier."

Some Like It Hot also scored Oscar® nominations for Best Actor (Jack Lemmon), Best Director, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography (black and white), and Art Direction - Set Decoration (black and white). Marilyn Monroe was reportedly heartbroken over not being nominated. It was rumored that executives at Fox (her studio) suggested to their bloc of Oscar® voters that since Some Like It Hot was a United Artists film, it would be better not to vote for her.

The film also won Golden Globe Awards for Best Motion Picture (Comedy), Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy (Lemmon), Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy (Marilyn Monroe).

Lemmon won the Best Foreign Actor award from the British Academy, which also nominated the picture for Best Film from Any Source.

The Italian Cultural Institute awarded Marilyn Monroe its David di Donatello prize for Best Foreign Actress of the year.

Some Like It Hot received a third place Golden Laurel Award in the list of Top Comedies from Motion Picture Exhibitor magazine. Lemmon and Monroe were runners-up for Best Male and Female Comedy Performances.

The Writers Guild of America chose the picture as the year's Best Written American Comedy.

Some Like It Hot was voted into the Library of Congress' National Film Registry of greatest American films in 1989 by the National Film Preservation Board. In 2000, it was installed in the Producers Guild of America's Hall of Fame.

The movie was ranked Number 6 in the British Film Institute members' list of the top 30 films of all time, compiled in 1983.

The Critics' Corner: SOME LIKE IT HOT

"One of the most uninhibited and enjoyable antics to come out of Hollywood in years. ... Miss Monroe is not only superb as a comedienne but is also the answer to any red-blooded American boy's dream." Bosley Crowther, The New York Times, 1959

"Lipsticked, mascaraed and tilting at a precarious angle ... actor Lemmon digs out most of the laughs in the script." Time, 1959

"As the band's somewhat simple singer-ukulele player, Miss Monroe, whose figure simply cannot be overlooked, contributes more assets than the obvious ones to this madcap romp...and proves to be the epitome of a dumb blonde and talented comedienne." A.H. Weiler, The New York Times, 1959

"A jolly, carefree enterprise in which some old phrenetic nonsense of Mack Sennet is restored to the screen." The New Yorker, 1959

"Female impersonation is a risky enough comedy subject; attempting to make the St. Valentine's Day massacre seem funny is even riskier. Co-author-director Billy Wilder, however, succeeds so well in some instances with his difficult, self-imposed assignment that the picture's subsequent lapses from taste and common decency (mostly involving leading lady Marilyn Monroe) can be presumed to be deliberate rather than the result of ineptness." Moira Walsh, America, April 25, 1959

"As for Miss Monroe, she is, as usual, an extremely effective female impersonator herself." Newsweek, 1959

"Look at Some Like It Hot closely again and you start to notice how for every raucous and/or ribald masquerade joke there is another that involves a transvestite leer, a homosexual "in" joke or a perverse gag. Here is the prurience, the perversion, the sexual sickness that is obsessing the characters and plots of our films" Judith Crist,The Private Eye, the Cowboy and the Very Naked Girl (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1967).

"The film can be perceived in part as a good-natured dream of sexuality as a sliding scale from male to female, from straight to gay, from potent to impotent, on which every human being dances an endlessly variable jig." Brandon French, On the Verge of Revolt (Ungar, 1978).

"Lemmon is demoniacally funny he really gives in to women's clothes and begins to think of himself as a sexy girl. ... Brown is inspired, the way he was years before in Max Reinhardt's movie of A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935), when he made us weep from laughter." Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies (Henry Holt, 1982). "Billy Wilder has made many films that have walked the line of bad taste. With its references to homosexuality, lesbianism, sadomasochism, oral sex ("The fuzzy/sweet end of the lollipop"), transvestism, impotence, and sex change, with MM scandalously dressed, and with its numerous double entendres, it was bound to offend some critics. But most critical reaction was in favor of Some Like It Hot. That's because, quite simply, it is one of the truly great Hollywood comedies. It is endlessly clever, briskly paced, deliciously acted, daring." - Danny Peary, Cult Movies 2.

"Billy Wilder, content to let the spectator chuckle privately at the sly innuendoes of Sunset Boulevard, sharpens his comic genius to the point of burlesque in Some Like It Hot, giving the film an outrageous, hectic tone admirably suited to the period - 1929, with jazz and bootlegging in full swing." - Peter Cowie, Eighty Years of Cinema.

Compiled by Rob Nixon

Critics' Corner - Some Like It Hot

Awards & Honors Orry-Kelly won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design of a Black-and-White Picture. Accepting his Oscar for Some Like It Hot, he thanked Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis, "who, as Louella (Parsons) would say, never looked lovelier." Some Like It Hot also scored Oscar® nominations for Best Actor (Jack Lemmon), Best Director, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography (black and white), and Art Direction - Set Decoration (black and white). Marilyn Monroe was reportedly heartbroken over not being nominated. It was rumored that executives at Fox (her studio) suggested to their bloc of Oscar® voters that since Some Like It Hot was a United Artists film, it would be better not to vote for her. The film also won Golden Globe Awards for Best Motion Picture (Comedy), Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy (Lemmon), Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy (Marilyn Monroe). Lemmon won the Best Foreign Actor award from the British Academy, which also nominated the picture for Best Film from Any Source. The Italian Cultural Institute awarded Marilyn Monroe its David di Donatello prize for Best Foreign Actress of the year. Some Like It Hot received a third place Golden Laurel Award in the list of Top Comedies from Motion Picture Exhibitor magazine. Lemmon and Monroe were runners-up for Best Male and Female Comedy Performances. The Writers Guild of America chose the picture as the year's Best Written American Comedy. Some Like It Hot was voted into the Library of Congress' National Film Registry of greatest American films in 1989 by the National Film Preservation Board. In 2000, it was installed in the Producers Guild of America's Hall of Fame. The movie was ranked Number 6 in the British Film Institute members' list of the top 30 films of all time, compiled in 1983. The Critics' Corner: SOME LIKE IT HOT "One of the most uninhibited and enjoyable antics to come out of Hollywood in years. ... Miss Monroe is not only superb as a comedienne but is also the answer to any red-blooded American boy's dream." Bosley Crowther, The New York Times, 1959 "Lipsticked, mascaraed and tilting at a precarious angle ... actor Lemmon digs out most of the laughs in the script." Time, 1959 "As the band's somewhat simple singer-ukulele player, Miss Monroe, whose figure simply cannot be overlooked, contributes more assets than the obvious ones to this madcap romp...and proves to be the epitome of a dumb blonde and talented comedienne." A.H. Weiler, The New York Times, 1959 "A jolly, carefree enterprise in which some old phrenetic nonsense of Mack Sennet is restored to the screen." The New Yorker, 1959 "Female impersonation is a risky enough comedy subject; attempting to make the St. Valentine's Day massacre seem funny is even riskier. Co-author-director Billy Wilder, however, succeeds so well in some instances with his difficult, self-imposed assignment that the picture's subsequent lapses from taste and common decency (mostly involving leading lady Marilyn Monroe) can be presumed to be deliberate rather than the result of ineptness." Moira Walsh, America, April 25, 1959 "As for Miss Monroe, she is, as usual, an extremely effective female impersonator herself." Newsweek, 1959 "Look at Some Like It Hot closely again and you start to notice how for every raucous and/or ribald masquerade joke there is another that involves a transvestite leer, a homosexual "in" joke or a perverse gag. Here is the prurience, the perversion, the sexual sickness that is obsessing the characters and plots of our films" Judith Crist,The Private Eye, the Cowboy and the Very Naked Girl (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1967). "The film can be perceived in part as a good-natured dream of sexuality as a sliding scale from male to female, from straight to gay, from potent to impotent, on which every human being dances an endlessly variable jig." Brandon French, On the Verge of Revolt (Ungar, 1978). "Lemmon is demoniacally funny he really gives in to women's clothes and begins to think of himself as a sexy girl. ... Brown is inspired, the way he was years before in Max Reinhardt's movie of A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935), when he made us weep from laughter." Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies (Henry Holt, 1982). "Billy Wilder has made many films that have walked the line of bad taste. With its references to homosexuality, lesbianism, sadomasochism, oral sex ("The fuzzy/sweet end of the lollipop"), transvestism, impotence, and sex change, with MM scandalously dressed, and with its numerous double entendres, it was bound to offend some critics. But most critical reaction was in favor of Some Like It Hot. That's because, quite simply, it is one of the truly great Hollywood comedies. It is endlessly clever, briskly paced, deliciously acted, daring." - Danny Peary, Cult Movies 2. "Billy Wilder, content to let the spectator chuckle privately at the sly innuendoes of Sunset Boulevard, sharpens his comic genius to the point of burlesque in Some Like It Hot, giving the film an outrageous, hectic tone admirably suited to the period - 1929, with jazz and bootlegging in full swing." - Peter Cowie, Eighty Years of Cinema. Compiled by Rob Nixon

TCM Remembers - Billy Wilder


A FOND FAREWELL TO ONE OF HOLLYWOOD'S MOST GIFTED DIRECTORS - BILLY WILDER, 11906-2002


Billy Wilder had the most deliciously dirty mind in Hollywood. The director dug into racy, controversial subjects with cynical wit and rare candor; he set new standards for film noir, sex comedies and the buddy film and his movies continue to inspire new generations of filmmakers.

Cameron Crowe, screenwriter and director of contemporary hit films such as Jerry Maguire(1996), was one of those moved by Wilder's film sense. The struggling filmmaker struck up a friendship with the 93-year old veteran and found a friend and a mentor. Their conversations were recently chronicled in a book by Cameron Crowe entitled Conversations with Wilder(published by Knoft).

Billy Wilder might have been born in Vienna, but American culture influenced him from the earliest days. Given the name Samuel, Wilder's mother called her son 'Billy' in honor of Buffalo Bill Cody. The name stuck.

Billy was as restless as his namesake and left law school to become a journalist. While grinding out articles for a Berlin newspaper, Wilder joined with future film directors Fred Zinnemann, Robert Sidomak and Edgar G. Ulmer to make a short film, Menschen Am Sonntag (1929). By the mid-1930s, he had written seven scenarios and even tried his hand at directing. After Hitler's rise to power in 1934, Wilder fled his homeland. Once in Hollywood, Wilder and roommate Peter Lorre had to learn English quickly if they wanted to join the American film industry. Together the German expatriates learned the language and began staking their territory in the Dream Factory.

As a writer, Wilder could craft realistic relationships with sharp dialogue; he proved this in his scripts for Ninotchka (1939) with Greta Garbo and Howard Hawks' Ball of Fire(1941). As a filmmaker, Wilder was well acquainted with the shadowy, brooding style of German Expressionism. He brought these two gifts together to create a landmark film noir - DOUBLE INDEMNITY(1944). He followed this cinematic triumph with a risky project, the story of an alcoholic on a three-day binge. Not the usual subject matter for a Hollywood studio, THE LOST WEEKEND (1945) nevertheless claimed the Academy Award for Best Picture. By the end of the decade, Wilder dared even to paint a portrait of Hollywood stardom gone awry in Sunset Boulevard (1950).

Each of these films is an undisputed classic today, but even at the time, his films were lauded. Six of his screenplays were nominated for Oscars between 1941-1950. Three of his eight Best Director nominations also came during this period. Billy Wilder claimed the American Dream; he was successfully playing by his own rules.

By the end of the '50s, as censorship guidelines were easing, Wilder's projects became even more daring. Sex was central to Wilder's world and Hollywood celebrated his candor. He directed Marilyn Monroe in two of her most sensuous roles, The Seven Year Itch (1955) and SOME LIKE IT HOT(1959). More often than not, Wilder liked pointing his finger at the hyprocrisy of people's sexual mores. In THE APARTMENT(1960), Wilder took an incisive look at corrupt businessmen exploiting their employees for sexual favors. In IRMA LA DOUCE (1963), the world of a Parisian prostitute was lovingly painted in Technicolor tones. In Kiss Me, Stupid (1964), Wilder finally stepped over the line with the story of a struggling composer willing to offer his wife to sell a song.The film, which seems so innocent today, was scandalous in its own day. Critics called Kiss Me, Stupid pornographic smut and buried the picture. Audiences ignored it. Today, the film is a risque farce with great performances by Dean Martin and Kim Novak. The critical lambast deeply affected Wilder; this would be his last sex comedy.

In 1966 Wilder brought together the dynamic combination of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau with THE FORTUNE COOKIE. Director and stars teamed again for The Front Page (1974), a remake of the newspaper classic; and Buddy, Buddy (1981), the story of an assassin and a sad sack ready to commit suicide.

Wilder's many years in Hollywood produced an amazing string of hits. From sarcastic and cynical social commentary to outrageous sex farce, Wilder pushed his audiences to look at their own values and morals. He was an outsider who wasn't afraid to point out the follies of his fellow man or the worst aspects of American culture. He will be sorely missed.

By Jeremy Geltzer

TCM Remembers - Billy Wilder

A FOND FAREWELL TO ONE OF HOLLYWOOD'S MOST GIFTED DIRECTORS - BILLY WILDER, 11906-2002 Billy Wilder had the most deliciously dirty mind in Hollywood. The director dug into racy, controversial subjects with cynical wit and rare candor; he set new standards for film noir, sex comedies and the buddy film and his movies continue to inspire new generations of filmmakers. Cameron Crowe, screenwriter and director of contemporary hit films such as Jerry Maguire(1996), was one of those moved by Wilder's film sense. The struggling filmmaker struck up a friendship with the 93-year old veteran and found a friend and a mentor. Their conversations were recently chronicled in a book by Cameron Crowe entitled Conversations with Wilder(published by Knoft). Billy Wilder might have been born in Vienna, but American culture influenced him from the earliest days. Given the name Samuel, Wilder's mother called her son 'Billy' in honor of Buffalo Bill Cody. The name stuck. Billy was as restless as his namesake and left law school to become a journalist. While grinding out articles for a Berlin newspaper, Wilder joined with future film directors Fred Zinnemann, Robert Sidomak and Edgar G. Ulmer to make a short film, Menschen Am Sonntag (1929). By the mid-1930s, he had written seven scenarios and even tried his hand at directing. After Hitler's rise to power in 1934, Wilder fled his homeland. Once in Hollywood, Wilder and roommate Peter Lorre had to learn English quickly if they wanted to join the American film industry. Together the German expatriates learned the language and began staking their territory in the Dream Factory. As a writer, Wilder could craft realistic relationships with sharp dialogue; he proved this in his scripts for Ninotchka (1939) with Greta Garbo and Howard Hawks' Ball of Fire(1941). As a filmmaker, Wilder was well acquainted with the shadowy, brooding style of German Expressionism. He brought these two gifts together to create a landmark film noir - DOUBLE INDEMNITY(1944). He followed this cinematic triumph with a risky project, the story of an alcoholic on a three-day binge. Not the usual subject matter for a Hollywood studio, THE LOST WEEKEND (1945) nevertheless claimed the Academy Award for Best Picture. By the end of the decade, Wilder dared even to paint a portrait of Hollywood stardom gone awry in Sunset Boulevard (1950). Each of these films is an undisputed classic today, but even at the time, his films were lauded. Six of his screenplays were nominated for Oscars between 1941-1950. Three of his eight Best Director nominations also came during this period. Billy Wilder claimed the American Dream; he was successfully playing by his own rules. By the end of the '50s, as censorship guidelines were easing, Wilder's projects became even more daring. Sex was central to Wilder's world and Hollywood celebrated his candor. He directed Marilyn Monroe in two of her most sensuous roles, The Seven Year Itch (1955) and SOME LIKE IT HOT(1959). More often than not, Wilder liked pointing his finger at the hyprocrisy of people's sexual mores. In THE APARTMENT(1960), Wilder took an incisive look at corrupt businessmen exploiting their employees for sexual favors. In IRMA LA DOUCE (1963), the world of a Parisian prostitute was lovingly painted in Technicolor tones. In Kiss Me, Stupid (1964), Wilder finally stepped over the line with the story of a struggling composer willing to offer his wife to sell a song.The film, which seems so innocent today, was scandalous in its own day. Critics called Kiss Me, Stupid pornographic smut and buried the picture. Audiences ignored it. Today, the film is a risque farce with great performances by Dean Martin and Kim Novak. The critical lambast deeply affected Wilder; this would be his last sex comedy. In 1966 Wilder brought together the dynamic combination of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau with THE FORTUNE COOKIE. Director and stars teamed again for The Front Page (1974), a remake of the newspaper classic; and Buddy, Buddy (1981), the story of an assassin and a sad sack ready to commit suicide. Wilder's many years in Hollywood produced an amazing string of hits. From sarcastic and cynical social commentary to outrageous sex farce, Wilder pushed his audiences to look at their own values and morals. He was an outsider who wasn't afraid to point out the follies of his fellow man or the worst aspects of American culture. He will be sorely missed. By Jeremy Geltzer

Quotes

I'm afraid it may take a little longer.
- Joe
It's not how long it takes, it's who's taking you.
- Sugar
Real diamonds! They must be worth their weight in gold!
- Sugar
You've gotta keep telling yourself: you're a boy.
- Josephine
I'm a boy?
- Daphne
You're a boy.
- Josephine
I'm a boy.
- Daphne
That's the boy.
- Josephine
Oh boy, am I a boy.
- Daphne
It's the story of my life. I always get the fuzzy end of the lollipop.
- Sugar

Trivia

Director Billy Wilder originally wanted Frank Sinatra as Jerry/Daphne.

Director Billy Wilder's choice for the role of Sugar was Mitzi Gaynor, not Marilyn Monroe.

Monroe wanted the film to be shot in color (her contract stipulated that all her films were to be in color), but Wilder convinced her to let it be shot in black and white when costume tests revealed that the makeup that 'Curtis, Tony' and Jack Lemmon wore gave their faces a green tinge.

Monroe required 47 takes to get "It's me, Sugar" correct, instead saying either "Sugar, it's me" or "It's Sugar, me". After take 30, director Wilder had the line written on a blackboard. Another scene required Monroe to rummage through some drawers and say "Where's the bourbon?" After 40 takes of Monroe saying "Where's the whiskey?", `Where's the bottle", or "Where's the bonbon?", Wilder pasted the correct line in one of the drawers. After Monroe became confused about which drawer contained the line, Wilder had it pasted in every drawer. 59 takes were required for this scene.

A preview audience laughed so hard in the scene where Jack Lemmon announces his engagement that a lot of the dialogue was missed. It had to be re-shot with pauses (and the maraca gimmick) added.

Notes

The Variety review erroneously listed a running time of 105 minutes for the film. The title of the film refers to the contemporary description of interpreting jazz music "hot" (improvisational) as opposed to "sweet" or "straight" (as written). The plot for Some Like It Hot was taken from a 1951 German film, Fanfaren das Liebe, written by Robert Thoeren and M. Logan. The story, to which writer-director Billy Wilder had purchased the rights, featured two Depression-era musicians who are driven by poverty to pretend to be gypsies, Black men and finally women in order to find work with various bands.
       A July 1958 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that longtime actor-comedian Joe E. Brown was brought out of semi-retirement to play "Osgood Fielding III." Hollywood Reporter news items add the following actors to the cast: Jack Mather, Tiger Joe Marsh, Pat Cominsky, Fred Sherman, Billy Wayne, Ralph Volkie, Carl Sklover, John Logan, Gayle Gleason, Joyce Horne, Joan Kelly, Lisa Long, Dea Myles, Virginia Lee, Minta Durfee, H. Tommy Hart, Ted Christy, Joe Palma and George Lake, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. In addition the songs performed in the film, portions of the following tunes were used: "Sweet Georgia Brown," "By the Beautiful Sea," "Randolph Street Rag," "La Cumprasita" and "Park Avenue Fantasy" (also known as "Stairway to the Sky"). As noted in various contemporary sources, the sequences set in Florida were shot on location at the Hotel Del Coronado Resort near San Diego, California.
       According to information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, in correspondence dated March 5, 1959, the Very Reverend Monsignor Thomas F. Little of the National Catholic Legion of Decency found Some Like It Hot to contain "screen material elements that are judged to be seriously offensive to Christian and traditional standards of morality and decency. ... The subject matter of `transvestism' naturally leads to complications; in this film there seemed to us clear inference of homosexuality and lesbianism. The dialogue was not only `double entendre' but outright smut. The offense in costuming was obvious." MPAA head Geoffrey Shurlock responded in a letter dated March 18, 1959: "So far there is simply no adverse reaction at all; nothing but praise for it as a hilariously funny movie. I am not suggesting, of course, that there are not dangers connected with a story of this type. But girls dressed as men, and occasionally men dressed as women for proper plot purposes, has been standard theatrical fare as far back as As You Like It and Twelfth Night....We of course are not defending the two exaggerated costumes worn by the leading lady." Information in the file indicates that, upon the film's release, Kansas delayed distribution for two months when the state Board of Review refuses to approve the picture unless over one hundred feet of footage, mostly of the love scene between "Sugar Kane" and "Shell Oil, Junior," was cut. The Memphis, TN Board of Censors rejected the film, then agreed to pass it if it was restricted to adults only.
       In a modern article by co-writer I. A. L. Diamond, he stated that he and Wilder spent a year developing the script. Wilder and Diamond decided to drop the first two plot devices from the Thoeren-Logan film and focus on the men dressing as women and joining an all-girl band. Initially, the Wilder-Diamond script was set in contemporary times because Wilder and Diamond felt they needed a situation more powerful than poverty to compel the characters to dress as women. According to Diamond, he suggested that a period setting would make it easier for the audience to accept female impersonation and Wilder then came up with the idea to set the story during the jazz age and have their characters witness a gangland slaying as motivation for hiding out. The gangland slaying that figures prominently in Some Like It Hot was loosely based upon the infamous St. Valentine's Day Massacre that took place in Chicago on 14 Feb, 1929. The "hit" was linked to mob boss Al Capone and took place against his longtime rival, George "Bugs" Moran, over control of Chicago's bootlegging, gambling and prostitution rackets. The massacre was plotted by Capone's top henchman, Jack "Machine Gun" McGurn, and featured four men masquerading as policemen making a bootlegging raid on seven of Moran's associates. Moran was not present at the slaying and Capone was in Florida. Neither Capone nor McGurn were ever charged with the murders.
       Diamond stated that Wilder offered Jack Lemmon the role of "Jerry," and Lemmon gave him a verbal agreement to appear in the film, despite being under contract to Columbia Pictures. Tony Curtis was signed first, but United Artists pressured Wilder to cast a bigger box-office name than Lemmon for the second male lead. According to Diamond, at UA's recommendation, Wilder approached Frank Sinatra, but Sinatra failed to make an appointment with the director. A modern biography on Wilder states that the director also had approached Anthony Perkins to co-star with Sinatra. According to a news item in a modern source, Danny Kaye was also considered for Lemmon's role. Mitzi Gaynor was considered for "Sugar," until Marilyn Monroe wrote to Wilder, expressing the hope that they could work together again after their success with The Seven Year Itch. The FF review noted that Monroe consented to appear in the film only after production executive Harold Mirisch offered her ten percent of the gross. Once Monroe was signed, Wilder was able to sign Lemmon.
       Some Like It Hot marked the first of seven films that Lemmon would make with Wilder between 1959-1981 including The Apartment, The Fortune Cookie (1966, see AFI Catalog of Feature Films 1961-70) and The Front Page (1974). Diamond credited Wilder with casting supporting actors Raft, Pat O'Brien and George E. Stone, all popularly associated with playing in gangster films in the 1930s and 1940s. In a modern interview with Wilder, he stated that he had hoped to cast Edward G. Robinson, but because of a long-standing disagreement between Robinson and Raft, Robinson refused. Edward G. Robinson, Jr., son of the actor, who famously portrayed several gangsters in 1930s films, appeared in the small role as the coin flipping henchman "Johnny Paradise," who pops out of the cake and kills "Spats" and his men. George Raft, who plays "Spats," used the coin flipping gimmick in UA's 1932 controversial gangster film, Scarface (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films: 1931-40).
       Diamond stated in his article that Curtis came up with the idea of Shell Oil, Junior mimicking actor Cary Grant's speech pattern. Diamond's article and numerous modern interviews with Wilder describe difficulties with Monroe during filming, including forty-seven takes of the line "Where's that bourbon?" that was eventually shot with the actress' back to the camera. One Wilder biography states that the director was not happy with Curtis' falsetto voice as "Josephine" and had it re-dubbed in a recording studio. In his autobiography, Lemmon indicates that Harry Ray helped to design his makeup.
       Diamond described the first preview for Some Like It Hot at the Bay Theatre in Pacific Palidsades, CA, where a conservative, middle-aged audience barely responded to the comedy. Two nights later, a second preview was held at the Village Theater in Westwood Village and the audience, primarily made up of university students, was enthusiastic.
       Although many modern sources indicate that the reviews upon the release of Some Like It Hot were mixed, most were positive. Variety described the film as "probably the funniest picture of recent memory. It's a whacky, clever, farcical comedy that starts off like a firecracker and keeps on throwing off lively sparks till the very end." Hollywood Reporter wrote that the film was a "supersonic, breakneck, belly-laugh comedy" and Motion Picture Herald called it "one of the wildest, wooliest and most infectiously fun comedies of the year." In the Los Angeles Times review under the headline: "Some Like It Hot Not as Hot as Expected," the reviewer found the film "not the unalloyed delight it was cracked up to be," and considered it "not at all sure what kind of comedy it is." The reviewer expressed annoyance with Curtis' mimicking Cary Grant and labeled the closing line "a startler." The film has gone on to become one of the highest regarded comedies of all time and Brown's closing line of "Nobody's perfect" is one of Hollywood's most iconic moments. A 1939 Paramount production of Ben Hecht's musical show Some Like It Hot is not related to the Wilder film (see AFI Catalog of Featire Films, 1931-40).
       Some Like It Hot won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design (b&w) and received nominations for Best Actor (Lemmon), Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography (b&w), Best Director and Best Screenplay. In 2001, AFI selected Some Like It Hot as the number one comedy film of all time. In 2001 Curtis began touring with a revival of the stage musical ugar! (which originally ran on Broadway from April 1972 to June 1973) which was renamed Some Like It Hot. In that production, Curtis assumed the role of Osgood.

Miscellaneous Notes

Voted Best Screenplay--Comedy by the 1959 Writers Guild of America.

Released in United States Spring March 1959

Re-released in United States December 23, 1991

Re-released in United States July 30, 1999

Released in United States on Video 1987

Released in United States on Video May 22, 2001

Released in United States November 1972

Released in United States March 1980

Released in United States 1982

Released in United States 1991

Released in United States October 1998

Released in United States June 1999

Shown at Hamptons International Film Festival (Archival Film Series) in East Hampton, New York October 14-18, 1998.

Shown at Newport International Film Festival (Special Screening) June 1-6, 1999.

Marilyn Monroe consented to make "Some Like It Hot" only when Harold Mirisch offered her ten percent of the gross.

Selected in 1989 for inclusion in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry.

Re-released in United Kingdom October 20, 2000.

Shot between August and November 1959.

Released in United States Spring March 1959

Re-released in United States December 23, 1991 (Film Forum 2; New York City)

Re-released in United States July 30, 1999 (Film Forum; New York City)

Released in United States on Video 1987

Released in United States on Video May 22, 2001

Released in United States November 1972 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Billy Wilder Marathon) November 9-19, 1972.)

Released in United States March 1980 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Special Porgrams) March 4-21, 1980.)

Released in United States 1982 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition ("Marathon of Mirth": Comedy Maratho) March 16 - April 1, 1982.)

Released in United States 1991 (Shown in New York City (Film Forum) in the series "Billy Wilder: 85 Years an Enfant Terrible" May 31-June 3, 1991.)

Released in United States October 1998 (Shown at Hamptons International Film Festival (Archival Film Series) in East Hampton, New York October 14-18, 1998.)

Released in United States June 1999 (Shown at Newport International Film Festival (Special Screening) June 1-6, 1999.)

Voted One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1959 National Board of Review.