Tag Archive: Billy Wilder

Some Like It Hot is a light-hearted comic romp that mixes several different types of comedy into fantastically funny situations.

What makes something funny? To answer such a question is difficult… and attempts to come up with a response have been wide and varied throughout history. With as vast and diverse a population as humankind it is only right that different cultures have developed their own comic tastes and therefore created different sorts of comedy – physical comedy, satire, dark comedy, sarcasm, puns, parody, black comedy, cringe comedy, spoofs and general wit are to name just a few sub-genres that come under the comedy umbrella. Therefore it’s impossible to please everyone?

Wrong. Some Like It Hot (and perhaps early episodes of The Simpsons) takes almost every type of joke available and shoves it in a blender. The output being a comic cocktail that is perfect for everybody. I honestly believe that every person could watch this film and find something funny about it (even if they don’t enjoy it in its entirety). Most obvious in the film are the theatrical situational gags of men dressing up as women and Marilyn Monroe playing a dumb blonde; assisted by the satire and parody of rich people, large corporations, gangsters, alcoholism, sex, homosexuality and the music industry. And that’s all from the situation alone.

The dialogue in the film is fantastically worked with jokes consistently coming thick, fast and hilariously. With so many one-liners crammed in the film a second watch of the film reveals dozens of jokes you missed on the first viewing because you where laughing so hard. This prompts a third viewing in which you remember how funny the jokes you heard first time where and forget the jokes you noticed second time. Leading to vicious circle of re-watching that it is hard to get out of (I worked out that I’ve seen the film six – or maybe seven times – but three of those happened in the same week).

All of this is underpinned by fantastic performances by the cast particularly the three leads Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Monroe. Each of them comes across perfectly in well-formed comic characters. Particularly shown in the gruff contrast between Curtis’s masculine sax player ‘Joe’, feminine good listener ‘Josephine’ and self-created Cary Grant-esque millionaire ‘Shell-Oil Junior’.

Marilyn Monroe also performs the ‘dumb, beautiful blonde’ role with everything you’d expect. Sure the film had many production problems because of her inability to learn lines (59 takes to say ‘Where’s the bourbon?’ apparently) but that doesn’t matter if the performance is captured correctly and that it is.


As discussed on yesterdays review of Wilder’s more dramatic ‘The Apartment’ the main reason I decided to watch this film was in an attempt to decide my favourite film by Billy Wilder. And therefore which one could take its place on my unprestigious all Time Top 20 list. And the result is in. Whilst The Apartment is a thoroughly entertaining film I could watch anytime of the year, Some Like It Hot is just plain funnier and therefore gets the win. I know that this may seem unfair as the Apartment doesn’t try to be an out-and-out comedy its focus being  more dramatic… but Some Like It Hot is so perfectly funny it cannot be beaten.

‘Nobodies perfect’ the famous ending line of Some Like It Hot comes across even more ironic when I consider it a ‘perfect’ comedy. Seriously the film has jokes for everybody and is a true example of a must see film. But for those who don’t want to watch a black and white movie it’s also worth checking out the colour remake White Chicks (2004) by the esteemed Wayan’s brothers, that I hear is equally hilarious*.


*I take no responsibility for any person who takes these comments about White Chicks seriously and actually watches that dismal movie.

Billy Wilder’s classic best picture winner is a wonderful movie that only gets more interesting when seen multiple times.

Having recently decided to re-organise my Top 20 of all time movie list; I found myself stuck in a dilemma. For the sake of fairness (and to stop Hitchcock from having all 20) I made the decision that only one film per director can make the list. Some decisions here where made easily for example choosing Big Lebowski as my favourite Co-en Brothers movie or Pulp Fiction as the best Tarantino work. Choosing my favourite Billy Wilder film is something of a problem – how do you choose a favourite from some of the finest and most charming films ever made. After much internal debate I finally whittled it down to two films The Apartment (1960) and Some Like It Hot (1959) which I both think of fondly for very different reasons. I then realised that having not seen either in other a year it would be unfair to judge them solely on my memories of their charm and much easier to just watch both and see which I prefer – my review of Some Like It Hot will be next in my Film-A-Day challenge.

The Apartment was the first Billy Wilder film I ever watched. I remember watching it for the first time and being blown away by it’s witty, charming yet surreally dark portrayal of New York and its satirical look at office work, consumerism and love. I was instantly obsessed with it (this was probably helped by the fact that I watched it during my Fight Club phased and would’ve adored any film with a vaguely anti-corporate message). Since then I have watched the film several times and it has always stood up to its expectation. I was therefore excited to revisit it yet also filled with anxiety as to whether it would stand up to my ever changing and increasingly judgmental opinions.

As soon as it with its C.C Baxter (Jack Lemmon) statistical analysis of New York life, all my fears where quelled as I became absorbed in the film and immersed myself in the wonderful world that Wilder creates. Everything in the film is immense from its perfectly crafted screenplay; it’s excellent pacing and the beautiful set decoration. From the second we meet Lemmon we know the character and instantly like him – the-bumbling-nice-guy-who-can’t-say-no may be an archetypal character but that doesn’t mean you can’t love him. Lemmon’s performance dominates the screen and the audience feels throughout the emotions and chaos of the journey on which he goes.

The best part of the film though by far is its balance between comedy and drama; whilst the film is not the laugh-fest I expect when I watch Some Like It Hot. It is full of fantastic comic moments that are genuinely laugh out loud funny; with most of these coming from Baxter’s almost blind optimism. Taking this optimistic character and contrasting him with a down-on-her-luck pessimist Frank Kubelik (Shirly MacLaine) an equally great character and performance creates a beautiful dynamic in the film that makes the emotions felt by the characters and the audience towards the end of the film all the stronger. It is masterful.

The film does what very few films are able to do; it offers up a platter of mixed emotions and leaves you feeling emotionally tortured. After watching the film I couldn’t decide if I was happy or sad… it was sort of uplifting but in a strange sort of way. Such was my investment in the characters and that I couldn’t quite decide if I was happy the way things turned out; the ending has a slight tone of ambiguity to it that leaves you wanting more and questioning not only the film but also your own life.


A film which I adored previously and reaffirmed it’s adoration; the Apartment is a firm favourite of mine and it will take something special for Some Like it Hot to beat it to my Top 20.