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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.
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Directed by David Miller
Produced by Mary Pickford
Written by Mac Benoff
Harpo Marx (story)
Starring Harpo Marx
Music by Ann Ronell
Cinematography William Mellor
Editing by Basil Wrangell
Distributed by United Artists
Release date: October 12, 1949 (San Francisco Premiere)
March 3, 1950
This film is notable for two things, 1) it is the worst of all the Marx Bros. films and 2) it features the screen debut of Marilyn Monroe.
Groucho never appears on-screen with his other two brothers, while Chico looks very old (he was 62) and tired. There are some OK jokes with Groucho and Harpo has a few good gags too, courtesy of Frank Tashlin who co-wrote the film. although Harpo’s schtick does wear thin after 30 minutes. The best scene is the 2 minutes when Marilyn is on-screen with Groucho getting in a couple of good lines, but overall it is a terrible and terribly boring film.
Directed by Frank Tashlin
Produced by Frank Tashlin
Written by Frank Tashlin & Herbert Baker
Starring Tom Ewell
Music by Bobby Troup
Cinematography Leon Shamroy
Editing by James B. Clark
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date December 1, 1956
Running time 99 min
Country United States
The Girl Can’t Help It is an interesting film for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was one of the first rock ‘n’ roll movies and featured performances by Little Richard, Gene Vincent and others. In fact this film was the inspiration for a couple of Liverpool lads to get decide to become rock stars too. Apparently some guy named John Lennon was obsessed with the film and seeing all of his heroes on the big screen, while another guy, Paul McCartney impressed Lennon with his impression of Eddie Cochran’s performance of Twenty Flight Rock from this movie. They started their own band which later became known as the Beatles or something. You may have heard of them.
The film was directed by Frank Tashlin, who as I have previously said started off directing cartoons for Warner Bros. He brings a few cartoony gag including one that I found quite funny and was a little rude. I am talking about the scene where Jayne Mansfield walks past the milkman and the lids of the milk bottles pop off and the milk starts coming out.
The film’s star is Jayne Mansfield who really was nothing more than a Marilyn Monroe wannabe. This may seem a bit harsh but it looks as though she was told in this film to act as much like Marilyn as possible, as that is all she does. Mansfield was not really known for her acting ability but for something else, as Sophia Loren can see in the picture here. Let’s just say that her bosoms were bigger than her talent. Later in her career Mansfield became more well-known for her wardrobe malfunctions than any of the movies that she made. She later appeared in a film called Promises! Promises! where she became the first mainstream film star since the early 30s to appear on film in the nude, thanks to the demise of the Hays Code. Jayne’s daughter is Mariska Hargitay, who plays Olivia Benson on Law & Order SVU. You can certainly see the resemblance between the two, especially in the facial features.
As for the film, it is funny and entertaining and the music is great but it is a bit dated.