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Some Like It Hot

Director: Billy Wilder

1959. Black and white. 121 mins.


Director Billy Wilder had a predilection for outrageous impersonations and liked to cram his films with references to other movies, often combining and parodying different conventions in the same work. The classic Some Like It Hot is an excellent case in point. It begins as a pastiche of vintage Warner Brothers gangster movies. The first things we see are a hearse, a gun battle and a raid on a speakeasy fronting as a funeral parlour. Before long we have edged into the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon), who accidentally witness the massacre, are dead ducks unless they flee to Miami disguised as members of an all-female band. The Miami section of the film is concerned with the blurring of sexual distinctions and develops into a frantic romantic roundelay that owes a debt to Preston Sturges comedies. Band member Sugar (Marilyn Monroe) is out to hustle a millionaire. Joe and Gerry are both after Sugar but are handicapped by their transvestism. Disguise and role playing are key Wilder themes and their implications are pushed to extremes in this glorious farce.

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