not a book

Not a Book: Some Like It Hot

A couple of years ago, when Doris Day died, I wrote a whole post about my love for the Hollywood icon. In it, I mentioned that my top five films of all time are Pillow Talk, Some Like It Hot, The Philadelphia Story, Mary Poppins and the Hayley Mills Parent Trap. I stand by that list, although I will say that leaving the Sound of Music out makes me anxious, so today, I thought I’d write about why I love Some Like It Hot.

If you’ve never seen the film, you can get a pretty good idea from the trailer, but basically, after two jobbing musicians witness a mob shooting in Prohibition Chicago they try to escape retribution from the gangsters by posing as women called Daphne and Geraldine and joining all-girl band. They promptly both fall in love with the band’s singer (and ukulele player) Sugar. High jinx ensue, especially when a millionaire falls in love with Daphne and the mob turn up for the “Friends of Italian Opera” meeting. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis are Daphne and Geraldine, and Marilyn Monroe is Sugar. If I haven’t sold it to you by now, I should add that the director and writer is Billy Wilder, who was also behind Sunset Boulevard and the Apartment.

I honestly can’t remember when I first watched it, but I do know that I’ve had the DVD in my collection for about 20 years now, and I have it recorded on both the upstairs and downstairs TiVo – because you never know when you might be poorly and need to watch a film in bed to cheer you up. Especially in Covid times. It will reliably cheer me up and is also probably the only film with Al Capone-style mobsters that I will watch! It’s just funny and so fun that you manage to forget that two men pretending to be women and using the knowledge they gain in disguise to help them get a girl is a bit of a problem. But it seems in films it’s one of my favourite things – see also Pillow Talk and You’ve Got Mail, and also Lover Come Back and Sleepless in Seattle.

I know I said this is not a post about books, but there are a couple of books on my favourites list with cross dressing main characters – on the historical romance front there’s Georgette Heyer’s These Old Shades and The Masqueraders, but there’s also Terry Pratchett’s A Monstrous Regiment. There’s a bunch more that I’ve read, but those three are the one’s I’ve come back to over and over. I think it’s easier to pull off in print because you don’t have to worry about needing to make the illusion convincing – the reason that Some Like It Hot is in black and white is because the amount of makeup needed for Lemmon and Curtis made their faces look green (Drag Race shows that beard/stubble coverage make up has moved on a long way in the last sixty years) and you can leave it all to the reader’s imagination – going the other way, I’ve never thought that Imogen Stubbs makes that convincing a boy in the film of Twelfth Night, for all that I love that movie (and not just because it has Toby Stevens in a bath at one point) and in fact the play.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a Sunday afternoon film to watch, why not watch this today – not only is it hilarious, but it’s also right up there on most of the greatest film lists, which given how serious a lot of the others on those lists are, surely makes it worth your time. And of course it has one of the greatest last lines ever. If you don’t know what it is, I’m not going to spoil it for you though!

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