I was fortunate to see Some Like It Hot (1959) on the big screen Sunday, courtesy of Park Circus, as part of TCM and Fathom Events’ series. I took along my best friend who, I believe, lacked a soul because he’d previously thought Singing In the Rain (1952) was boring. Yes, and we’re still friends. Taking him to see Some Like It Hot was my final attempt at putting a love of the classics in him; if he didn’t think this was good, nothing would save him. In watching the movie for the umpteenth time, I was taken with how the movie theater-sized screen draws attention to things I’d never noticed before. So let’s look at five things I noticed – none of these are earth-shattering, but worth pointing out – while watching Some Like It Hot.
1. Tiffany Vasquez’s Introduction
This has nothing to do with the actual feature, but I did want to give a shout-out to Tiffany Vasquez’s introduction. This is the first intro of hers I’ve seen – I wasn’t too bad she bumped my beloved Ben Mankiewicz – and she nailed it. Now, I might be biased since I’ve met Tiffany, but I don’t get the hate over her. Yes, she’s young and still hasn’t nailed the grace of being on-camera, but as she talked about Marilyn Monroe, and how Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis looked horrible in color, it was as good a job as Ben could have done. That’s quite a statement coming from me!
2. Marilyn’s Wardrobe
I might have talked about this in my original review of the film, but wow are Marilyn’s outfits in this superb when blown up to movie theater size. The Oscar-winning gowns by Orry-Kelly are breathtaking, and talk about risque! My best friend had to ask me several times if Marilyn’s outfits were censored in certain states, and I didn’t know the answer. (If someone out there knows, feel free to leave it in the comments.) The black beaded dress Marilyn wears at the end is one of two outfits of hers still in existence from the movie. I’m hoping the other is the white, “I Want to Be Loved By You” dress because that one is superb! The fact that the dress leaves little to the imagination – just beading covering her breasts and an exposed back – is enough to cause some heart palpitations!
3. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis’ Makeup
Yes, everyone knows Some Like It Hot was initially planned for a color release, until everyone got a look at Jack Lemon and Tony Curtis’ makeup. With everything blown up on the movie screen you can really see how much of their face is painted on. I loved the thick lipstick on Curtis’ perpetually puckered pout, expertly applied for a supposed first-time. The worst offender looks to be Lemmon, whose bizarre eye makeup choices look as terrible in black and white as they’d be in living color.
4. How About the Hotel del Coronado?
One of the key trivia bits associated with Some Like It Hot is the Floridian setting is actually San Diego County. The Hotel del Coronado is where Monroe, Curtis and Lemmon have fun in the sun, and it’s utterly beautiful. Visiting the Hotel del Coronado is on my classic film bucket list, though I doubt it looks as great as it did in 1959. Look at the rooms everyone is in, probably ridiculously expensive. I particularly love the slatted doors that offer just a bare modicum of privacy from lusty bellboys. And those hallways are just swank!
5. A Letter to Sweet Sue
Joan Shawlee’s Sweet Sue, titled head of the Society Syncopaters that Lemmon and Curtis’ character join, is nothing short of hilarious. Her booming refrain of “BEINSTOCK!” everytime something goes wrong never fails to elicit giggles. She runs a classy outfit, and by gum she’ll get it! Shawlee has some great timing. She would later appear in two other Billy Wilder-directed films, 1960’s The Apartment and 1963’s Irma la Douce.