Sunday, May 10, 2009

Some Like It Hot

Billy Wilder, 1959, bw (8.4*)
A ludicrious premise like this in the hands of anyone short of a master director like Wilder and this classic comedy could have been another forgettable farce, or even a tv show like Bosom Buddies, which obviously borrowed from this. Two musicians, played by Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis, witness a gangland slaying and flee to avoid being the next victims. Naturally, the best place to hide out? An all-female big band, with none other than Marilyn Monroe around to tempt the guys to shed their female impersonations and reveal their macho studliness. They occasionally forget and speak in deep male voices.

In a funny twist, to top off the insanity, the wealthy Joe E. Brown falls for Jack Lemmon as a woman, so we get some great gender-bending jokes about the aggressive male tactics in romance, as well as the film’s hilarious closing line. This is another Wilder gem, and they’re still trying to make a similar film today, as Tootsie and Big Mama and Mrs. Doubtfire all proved. How ironic that gay heartthrob Tony Curtis was both in drag and played the debonair playboy courting Marilyn on the side. This pokes great fun at the superficiality and materialistically driven American romantic ritual.

Wilder is one of the great directors, here's a small list of his best films:
The Front Page, Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard, Lost Weekend, The Spirit of St. Louis, One Two Three, Ace in the Hole, Sabrina, The ApartmentWitness For the Prosecution, The Fortune Cookie.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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