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One of the golden rules in comedy is that men dressed in women’s clothing are universally funny. I don’t know why this is but it is the premise of the humour in Some Like It Hot. Unlike most other films that feature men dressed in drag, this is not just a one joke comedy, and is one of the funniest films ever made. After Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon witness a gangland shooting, they disguise themselves as female musicians to get away from the gangsters.
Whilst they are pursued by ‘Spats’ (played by George Raft) and his gang they meet up with Sugar Kane, played by Marilyn Monroe. The fun begins when Joe/Josephine, played by Curtis, falls for Sugar.
Jack Lemmon is hilarious in this movie as Gerald/Daphne, and the closing line by his/her fiancé when it is revealed that Daphne is a bloke, is one of the funniest in movie history.
One of the things that I found interesting was the casting of Raft as Spats. In real life Raft was a low-level hoodlum before he became an actor in the late 20s, and rose to prominence in the original Scarface. One of the in-jokes that I found funny was when Spats chides a rival gangster who is constantly tossing a coin, something that Raft’s character did in Scarface. In another scene he picks up a grapefruit and looks as though he is going to squish it into someone’s face ala Jimmy Cagney in The Public Enemy.
Directed by Billy Wilder
Produced by Billy Wilder
Written by Samuel A. Taylor (play Sabrina Fair)
Billy Wilder & Ernest Lehman
Starring Humphrey Bogart
Music by Frederick Hollander
Cinematography Charles Lang
Editing by Arthur P. Schmidt
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date September 9, 1954 London premiere
Running time 113 min
I don’t usually watch too many romantic comedies. You many think that this is a little prejudiced of me but I find that most modern romantic movies are riddled with clichés. Usually boy meets girl, they discover that they have nothing in common, they fight and bicker and come to hate each other but in the end they find that opposites attract and they find true love. The End. It’s been done so many times in the recent past and it has become stale and boring.
I am happy to report that Sabrina was a lot better film than I expected. The performances from Hepburn and Bogart are terrific whilst Holden plays a great comic relief part. The film is the classic Cinderella story where a girl from the working class background meets her Prince Charming but there are a lot of twists and turns that Billy Wilder has put in to make this film a unique experience. Whilst Hepburn plays the central character in the film it is Bogart whose performance is the best, as we see his growth from a work obsessed corporate suit into a romantic fool after falling in love with Sabrina. He was of course known for his tough guy roles so it is quite refreshing to see him play someone who ends up being so fragile and human. While this film helped to make Hepburn a star and a sophisticated sex symbol of the 1950s it is Bogart’s performance that makes this film so enjoyable.