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SOME LIKE IT HOT
Collector's Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon
Director:  Billy Wilder
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Mono
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.66:1
Studio:  MGM
Features:  See Review
Length:  122 Minutes
Release Date:  July 18, 2006

“Look at the way they move…I tell ya, it’s a whole different sex!”

Film ****

I once saw an interview with director Billy Wilder in which he claimed he never considered the genre of the picture he was making beforehand.  Having dabbled in a wide variety, he humbly suggested, “If the audience laughs, then I know it was a comedy.” 

Some Like it Hot was definitely a comedy.  The audiences have been laughing for more than 45 years now.

Voted by the American Film Institute as the greatest American comedy ever made, Some Like it Hot is absolutely timeless in its appeal to movie lovers, and completely immortal in its ability to inspire tear-inducing laughter for a full two hours.  Wilder, who co-scripted and directed, put Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in drag opposite a dynamite, sexually overt performance by Marilyn Monroe and created a comedy legend.

When hard luck musicians Joe (Curtis) and Jerry (Lemmon) accidentally witness the St. Valentine’s Day massacre in the 1920s, they take the only chance they see to stay alive:  join an all-girl swing band en route to Miami.  So, with a costume change, a couple of wigs, and two pairs of clean-shaven legs, the newly christened Josephine and Daphne take it on the lam.

On the train, they meet up with the airy and curvaceous Sugar Kane (Monroe), and both fall for her, though naturally, as women, they can’t indulge.  There are laughs a plenty before the stage in Miami is ever set.  Watching Sugar in Daphne’s berth, warming her feet…there was never such a harbinger of comic things to come! 

Miami offers strange romantic interludes for both of our heroines…er, heroes.  When Sugar confides in Josephine her dreams of marrying a millionaire with a yacht, Joe decides to make her dream come true with a phony costume change and a horrendously funny accent, not to mention a story about his impotence with women that leads to one of the sexiest horizontal kissing scenes ever captured on film!

Meanwhile, Daphne finds herself in the clutches of a real millionaire, Osgood (Brown), who can’t keep his groping hands to himself.  While Joe is sharing romance with Sugar aboard Osgood’s yacht, scenes of a bewildered Daphne tangoing with Osgood are humorously intercut.  (“Dear, you’re leading again…”)

But a gangster convention in town suddenly puts the girls…uh, boys, in danger once again, and with Joe faced with telling Sugar the truth, and Daphne strangely engaged to Osgood, everything races towards a climax that is faster and funnier than anything you’ve ever seen, leading up to THE funniest exit line in motion picture history.  Trust me.

The script is sharp and impeccable…there is enough humor in it to make at least three modern comedies.  The witticisms and scenarios come one right after another in such rapid fire fashion that severe laughter pains are a distinct possibility.  The three leads are remarkable in their chemistry and timing.   Tony Curtis is picture perfect in his “trio” of roles (“Where did you get that accent?” snaps Jerry, “Nobody talks like that!”).  Jack Lemmon, a clown prince of comedy, is at his sharpest and most vibrant.

But as good as the men are, I defy you to even look at them when Ms. Monroe is on screen.  Exhibiting all the radiance, sweetness, innocence and raw sex appeal that continues to win audience’s hearts today, Marilyn is every bit the equal of her co-stars when it comes to timing and delivery.  Stories have abounded for decades about the film being made during a particularly horrid time in her life, and how mistakes, miscues, late arrivals and solitude made working conditions difficult for her director and co-star.  How much is true and how much is fiction we may never fully know, but one thing is for certain:  there are no hints of problems on screen.  Billy Wilder managed to bring a wonderfully sexy and comic performance out of Marilyn that stands as one of her most memorable.

Apart from the laughter, the most memorable aspect of the picture has to be her rendition of “I Want to be Loved by You”.  Sporting a most daring see-through gown that must have made censors reaching for their cold compresses, she coos and purrs her way through the number, smiling directly at the camera.  The way she moves her body in and out of the light with such a carefree attitude makes the scene play like a fully clothed striptease.  Her luminous face, innocent eyes and incredible figure, combined with that whispery, sexy voice…um…sorry, lost my train of thought…what was I talking about?

Oh, yes, the movie…sorry.  If Some Like it Hot isn’t the funniest movie ever made, I can’t think of a better one off the top of my head.  This is a genuine American classic, and a movie that has lost none of its luster, appeal, or magic after forty years.  I’d wager the next forty won’t be any different.

Video ***1/2

Not only is it in anamorphic widescreen, but it is a remarkably clean and beautiful black and white transfer from MGM.  Images are sharp and well-detailed throughout, with only a couple of VERY minor stretches where the print shows age in the form of some scratches or specks.  The disc is free from compression artifacts, grain, shimmer, or other distractions.  The range from darks to lights is superb.  Marilyn has never looked so beautiful.  For that matter, neither have Tony and Jack.

Audio ***1/2

WOW!  Some 5.1 remasters of original mono tracks aren’t particularly impressive; this one is.  The surround audio doesn’t offer an abundance of discreet channel uses, but instead, opens up the listening experience to a full, dynamic, and well rounded one.  The score and musical numbers come across with more vibrancy and life…switch back and forth between the mono and surround channels during the band’s performances for a real indication of how impressive the new mix is.  Dialogue is clean throughout, and the track is free from noise and hiss.  All in all, one of the most impressive 5.1 remasters I’ve heard!

Features ****

If you like your DVDs hot, you've come to the right place.  This double disc collector's edition is loaded with treats for fans of the film...and who isn't one?

There are two terrific new documentaries, one on the making of the movie, and one on the legacy of it.  Both feature interviews with Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Billy Wilder and others.   There is also a nicely presented commentary track featuring interviews with the likes of Curtis, Lemmon and more!

I particularly enjoyed the warm, intimate retrospective interview with Tony Curtis by film historian Leonard Maltin.  Curtis is affable and funny, and remembers stories about making the film with generous detail.  Maltin thankfully limits his schmaltz (I can still remember his review of Tootsie for Entertainment Tonight in which he proclaimed he didn’t like comedies where men dressed in drag…huh!) and lets Mr. Curtis speak freely.  It even concludes with both men proclaiming their love for the DVD medium…very cool!   As simple as the conception and execution of this half hour-plus piece is, it’s a terrific jewel for film fans.

A second shorter featurette catches up with four of the members of the all girl band (the ones that actually WERE girls, of course), which combines their stories with some photos and clips…a pleasant little piece.

There is also a virtual hall of memories that features Curtis, Lemmon, Monroe, Wilder, and some behind the scenes info…each one plays out combining video and audio clips with photos, detailing each artist and his or her contributions to the film.  There is also an original pressbook gallery and some trailers.  And it's not listed on the box, but there are also some lobby card reproductions.

Summary:

Some Like it Hot, but everyone will like this Collector's Edition DVD offering from MGM.  With a beautiful transfer, impressive new audio mix, and a collection of terrific extras, this is a disc that every personal collection, no matter how big or small, must have. 

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