Tag Archives: Tony Curtis

Some Like It Hot

Cropped screenshot of Marilyn Monroe from the ...

Image via Wikipedia

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.

Nobody’s perfect!”

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.


The Defiant Ones

Cover of "The Defiant Ones"

Cover of The Defiant Ones

Directed by Stanley Kramer
Produced by Stanley Kramer
Written by Nedrick Young (story)
Harold Jacob Smith
Starring Tony Curtis
Sidney Poitier
Theodore Bikel
Cara Williams
Cinematography Sam Leavitt
Editing by Frederic Knudtson
Distributed by United Artists
Release date July 1958
Running time 97 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Defiant Ones is a brilliant film featuring great performances by Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis. The premise of the film is that two prisoners, one black and one white, have escaped from a chain-gang whilst still chained together. The film examines the issues of race and racism in 1950s America. Both actors are in fine form and the movie is quite entertaining and interesting.


RIP Tony Curtis

June 3, 1925 – September 30, 2010

Just heard via Twitter that Tony Curtis has died at the age of 85. I think that the first time that I ever saw a movie with Tony in it would have either been Some Like It Hot or The Great Race on TV, both movies that I loved as a kid and still like now. When I grew older I watched other movies such as Spartacus and The Defiant Ones with Sidney Poitier. I wonder how many stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood are still with us. Jerry Lewis, Mickey Rooney, Lauren Bacall, Kirk Douglas… not too many others.


Francis

Directed by Arthur Lubin
Produced by Robert Arthur
Written by David Stern (also novel)
Starring Donald O’Connor
Patricia Medina
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) 1950
Running time 91 minutes
Country United States
Language English

This is yet another of those films that I used to see all the time on a Sunday afternoon on Channel 10’s Golden Years of Hollywood, but never see anymore. There are seven Francis movies in all, but I think that the first one, the one that I watched today, is the one that was mostly shown on TV. The movie featured Donald O’Connor as a lieutenant in Burma during WWII whose life is saved by a smart-ass talking mule named Francis. Of course Francis was a precursor to the famous Mr. Ed who appeared on TV in the 60s.

I enjoyed the film a lot this time around and thought that Donald O’Connor was likeable as Peter Stirling. Francis naturally enough steals every scene that he (actually Francis was in real life a she) is in and the supporting cast is fine too. ZaSu Pitts, who the Olive Oyl’s cartoon persona was based on, appears here as does a young Tony (billed as Anthony) Curtis in a bit part.

Francis was popular enough to hve featured in another six films, as well as comic books and on a record album. As I mentioned earlier Mr. Ed was a show that was a lot like Francis and made by the same creative team.


Spartacus

Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Produced by Edward Lewis
Written by Dalton Trumbo & Howard Fast (Novel)
Starring
Kirk Douglas
Laurence Olivier
Peter Ustinov
John Gavin
Jean Simmons
Charles Laughton
Tony Curtis
Music by Alex North
Cinematography Russell Metty
Editing by Robert Lawrence
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) October 7, 1960
Running time 184 minutes
Country United States
Language English

“I’m Spartacus”

Spartacus is an epic gladiator film from 1960. It is from a time when long movies had intermissions so that patrons could go to the bathroom or buy a Coke, popcorn and a choc-top before watching the second half of the film. These types of films also allow the home-viewer a chance to take a break too, before putting disc 2 into the machine. In fact I actually watched part 1 of the film this morning before going to work and part two when I got home. I should also make a note that I borrowed this DVD from the local public library.

The film follows the life of Spartacus, a slave who is sold to a gladiator school but then causes a revolt, before turning his attention to freeing the rest of Rome’s slaves. While the action and the battle scenes are very good, there is also a good insight into the (fictionalised) political maneuverings in ancient Rome. It is fun to see how the Senators and the generals are at times more willing to find a way to humiliate the other and diminish their rivals’ political standing, than fight the slave army of Spartacus.

The film stars Kirk Douglas as Spartacus and features some of Hollywood’s all-time greats. Kirk is very charismatic as the freed slave but it just feels like Spartacus is an extension of his own natural persona and that he is just playing Kirk Douglas. The only difference here from his performance in 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea is that here he is a little more intense, and less clownish, but the similarities of the two performances are there. That is not to say that I didn’t enjoy his performance here.

In fact I enjoyed Spartacus so much that I will buy the DVD for myself to watch over and over. In fact the only thing I didn’t enjoy about the film is the condition of the DVD that I borrowed, as when it got to the 48 minute mark of disc two the picture kept freezing and jumping. I always thought that DVDs were meant to be indestructible but I do notice that there are several discs at the two public libraries that I belong to that are almost unwatchable. I know that I lovingly take care of my own DVDs and none are scratched or damaged at all, but it seems that when people borrow DVDs from the library that they just don’t care how they treat them, hence the damage that I often find in library discs.