Watching: Some like it hot

Some like it hot is one of those films that pops up high on the critics lists of all-time best comedys and also all-time best films. (Let's put aside for a minute the fact that these are all invariably American and British films that get chosen).

It also seems to crop up time and time again whenever you speak to someone who did any kind of cinema studies at uni. In spite of all this, it's been one of the "classic" films that I've never quite gotten around to seeing until last night.

(The closest we got to it at uni was another classic Billy Wilder film - Double Indemnity)

If you haven't had a chance to see Some Like It Hot, it tells the story of two male musicians (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) who witness the St Valentines Day massacre in Chicago, 1929. Their only chance to get out of town and away from the gangsters who are chasing them is to disguise themselves as women and join an all-girl band heading to Florida.

They meet Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe - I'm starting to see what the fuss is all about now) as well as a quirky millionaire, the gangsters turn up at their Florida hotel for a mob convention (Friends of Italian Opera) and things get crazier from there.

A lot of Some Like It Hot moments have passed into pop culture history, so that even when you haven't seen the movie, scenes jump out at you from the dozens of references you will have seen. Marilyn doing the boop-boop-be-doo thing, Lemmon and Curtis trying to get used to walking down the train platform as women and even minor characters like the randy bellhop (as seen in the Mindy episode of The Simpsons)

The humour holds up well - Jack Lemmon in particular is an astonishing comic performer and Tony Curtis backs him up admirably, the pace is brisk, the dialogue witty and even the bedroom farce style of the piece (people rushing around in and out of doors in chase scenes) seems fresh.

There are also a few post-modern moments - I'll admit I only found out about them in reading trivia about the film afterwards but noticed that there was something about them at the time. George Raft, playing the lead gangster, mocks a minor gangster with a habit of flipping a coin with the line - "Where did you pick up that cheap trick?"

It turns out that George Raft is well remembered for his role in the original (1932) Scarface as a hood with a habit of flipping a coin.

There has been so much written about this film that I'm sure that my offerings aren't going to add a whole lot to the discussion but I will say that it is definitely deserving of it's classic status and is well worth a look if you haven't yet had a chance.

Next time I'll tell you about another new film I've discovered that you may not have heard of - Citizen Kane ;)