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Some Like It Hot
Director: Billy Wilder (Dir)
Release Date:   Mar 1959
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 29 Mar 1959
Production Date:   early Aug--12 Nov 1958 at Samuel Goldwyn Studios
Duration (in mins):   120
Duration (in feet):   10,710
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Cast:   Marilyn Monroe (Sugar Kane Kowalcyzk)  
    Tony Curtis (Joe, also known as Josephine and Shell Oil, Junior)  
    Jack Lemmon (Jerry, also known as Daphne)  
    George Raft ("Spats" Colombo)  
    Pat O'Brien (Mulligan)  
    Joe E. Brown (Osgood Fielding III)  
    Nehemiah Persoff (Little Bonaparte)  
    Joan Shawlee (Sweet Sue)  
    Billy Gray (Sid Poliakoff)  
    George E. Stone ("Toothpick" Charlie)  
    Dave Barry (Beinstock)  
    Mike Mazurki (Spats's henchman)  
    Harry Wilson (Spats's henchman)  
    Beverly Wills (Dolores)  
    Barbara Drew (Nellie Weinmeier)  
    Edward G. Robinson Jr. (Johnny Paradise)  
    Marian Collier    
    Laurie Mitchell    
    Colleen O'Sullivan    

Summary: In Chicago, in February, 1929, federal agent Mulligan sets up a raid on a speakeasy run by notorious bootlegger “Spats” Colombo, based on information provided by small-time gangster “Toothpick” Charlie. As Mulligan inspects the lively speakeasy, two members of the band, saxophonist Joe and bass player Jerry eagerly discuss plans for their salary from their first job in four months. The longtime friends begin arguing about how to spend their salary until Jerry notices Mulligan’s badge and they make a hasty exit as the raid begins, avoiding the police roundup. Putting up their coats as collateral, they place a bet with their bookie, and promptly lose both the bet and their coats. Desperate, Joe and Jerry visit the musicians’ agency building hoping to line up another job. At Sid Poliakoff’s agency, receptionist Nellie Weinmeier, incensed over being stood up by Joe a few nights earlier, reveals there is an opening for a bass and sax with a band in an all-expenses paid trip to Florida. Joe and Jerry eagerly question Sid, only to learn that the positions are in an all-girl band. Sid tells them of a job at a college dance in Urbana and Joe accepts, then charms Nellie into loaning them her car for the Urbana gig. Retrieving the car at a garage owned by Toothpick Charlie, Joe and Jerry unintentionally witness Spats and his men shoot Charlie and his men to death for informing on the speakeasy. Although the musicians are spotted by Spats, he is distracted by Charlie, who revives long enough to allow Joe and Jerry to flee. After they evade the gangsters, Jerry suggests they call the police, but Joe reminds him they will not be safe from Spats in any part of Chicago in spite of the police. Joe then telephones Sid and, using a high falsetto voice, accepts the job with the all-girl band. That evening at the train station, Joe and Jerry, uncomfortably disguised as women, check in with band leader Sweet Sue and manager Beinstock as the newest members of the Society Syncopators, Joe as Josephine and Jerry as Daphne. Once on board the train, Joe fears that Jerry’s enthusiasm at finding himself among so many women will expose them and warns his friend to behave “like a girl,” but in the process, musses Jerry’s outfit. Retreating to the ladies’ room for repairs, the men come upon stunning singer and ukulele player Sugar Kane Kowalczyk drinking bourbon from a flask. Sugar pleads with them not to report her to Sue, who has threatened to fire her if she is caught drinking again. A little later during rehearsal, when Sugar’s flask falls to the floor, Sue responds angrily, but Jerry steps forward, and to Sugar’s surprise, claims the flask is his own. That night, Sugar sneaks to Jerry’s berth to thank him for his action, then abruptly jumps into the berth to avoid Sue. Overwhelmed by Sugar’s proximity, Jerry grows anxious and suggests that he needs a drink and within minutes an impromptu party ensues at Jerry’s berth. Joe awakens and is horrified, but gets drawn into the festivities when Sugar asks him to help break up an ice block in the ladies’ room. There Sugar confides that she is with the all-girl band in order to escape a series of unhappy love affairs with tenor saxophone players and dreams of finding a sensitive millionaire who wears glasses. Upon arriving in Florida at the beachfront Ritz Seminole Hotel, “Daphne” catches the attention of wealthy, oft-married Osgood Fielding III. Once in their room, Jerry, infuriated at being flirted with and pinched by Osgood, demands they give up their disguises and find a male band, but Joe insists they must maintain their masquerade, as Spats will surely investigate male orchestras all over the country. Jerry reluctantly agrees and then accompanies Sugar to the beach. Unknown to Jerry, Joe has stolen Beinstock’s suitcase of clothes and eyeglasses and, dressing in them, goes to the beach where he stages an accidental meeting with Sugar. Joe implies that he is the heir to the Shell Oil company and, captivated by the apparently sensitive “Junior,” Sugar invites him to the band’s opening that night. Back in their room, Jerry receives a call from Osgood inviting Daphne to a candlelit dinner on board his yacht. Joe accepts for Jerry, then tells his protesting friend that he must keep the date with Osgood on shore, as he, in the guise of Shell Oil, Junior, plans to dine with Sugar on Osgood’s yacht. That night during the band’s performance, Osgood sends Jerry an enormous bouquet, which Joe commandeers to give to Sugar with a card inviting her to dine with Junior. Afterward, Joe meets Sugar on the pier as an unhappy Jerry talks Osgood into dining at a local roadhouse. While Jerry and Osgood tango to the music of a Cuban band at the roadhouse, on board Osgood’s yacht Joe convinces Sugar that a romantic emotional shock in his youth has left him impotent and years of expensive medical treatment have failed to cure him. Appalled, Sugar begs Joe to allow her to help, but after numerous passionate kisses, Joe insists he is unmoved. Determined, Sugar pleads to keep trying and Joe agrees. At dawn, Joe climbs back in the window of the hotel room to find Jerry deliriously happy because Osgood has proposed. Taken aback, Joe tells his friend it is impossible for him to marry another man, but Jerry explains his plan to reveal his identity after the marriage ceremony and, after an annulment, force Osgood to pay him alimony. Disturbed by Jerry’s high spirits, Joe urges him to remember that he is a boy, and Jerry sadly wonders what to do with Osgood’s engagement gift, an extravagant diamond bracelet. The next day, gangsters from all over the country, summoned by mob boss Little Bonaparte, meet at the hotel under the guise of attending an opera convention. Mulligan is also present and when Spats arrives, accuses him of the murder of Toothpick Charlie and his gang. Upon spotting Spats in the lobby, Joe and Jerry panic and realize they must flee. In their room, Jerry laments having to give up Osgood and Joe telephones Sugar to disclose that Junior’s family has ordered him to Venezuela immediately for an arranged marriage. Moved by Sugar’s despair, Joe places the diamond bracelet in a box of flowers and pushes it across the hall to her door as a farewell gift from Junior. Joe and Jerry then escape out of their hotel window but are seen by Spats and his men on the floor below. When the pair dash away leaving their instruments behind, Spats finds bullet holes in Jerry’s bass and realizes the “broads” are the Chicago murder witnesses in disguise. Knowing they have been discovered, Joe and Jerry dress as a bellboy and a wheelchair-bound millionaire and head across the lobby filled with Spats’s men. Noticing that Jerry has inadvertently left on his high heels, the henchmen give chase and Joe and Jerry run into a convention hall and hide, unaware that the mob “convention” is scheduled to meet there. Moments later, Spats sits at the table under which Joe and Jerry are hiding, and in a prearranged plan, Bonaparte pretends to honor Spats by presenting him with a giant cake, out of which bursts an assassin who guns down Spats and his men. Terrified, Joe and Jerry bolt, but as Bonaparte orders them found, Mulligan and his men close in to make arrests. Resuming their disguises as women, Joe and Jerry overhear that the remainder of Bonaparte’s men are watching all buses and trains out of town and Joe decides they should escape on Osgood’s yacht after Jerry elopes with him. When Jerry balks, Joe says their only option is certain death by Bonaparte’s men. While Jerry telephones Osgood to make arrangements, Joe hears Sugar and the band finishing a song and climbs onto the stage to tell her that no man is worth her heartbreak, then kisses her before hurrying away. Realizing that “Josephine” is “Junior,” Sugar follows the men down to the dock and the waiting Osgood. As they all board the speedboat, Joe removes his wig and confesses that he is a liar and a phony, but Sugar insists that she does not care and the couple embrace. Meanwhile, Osgood proudly tells Daphne that his mother is delighted about their upcoming wedding. Jerry nervously confesses that he cannot marry him, declaring that he is not a natural blonde, smokes, has lived in sin and cannot bear children, but Osgood remains cheerfully undaunted. At last Jerry snatches off his wig and admits that he is a man, wherein Osgood happily assures him that, after all, “nobody’s perfect.” 

Production Company: Ashton Productions, Inc.  
  The Mirisch Company, Inc.  
Production Text: A Mirisch Company Picture
Distribution Company: United Artists Corp.  
Director: Billy Wilder (Dir)
  Sam Nelson (Asst dir)
  Hal Polaire (Asst dir)
Producer: Billy Wilder (Prod)
  Doane Harrison (Assoc prod)
  I. A. L. Diamond (Assoc prod)
Writer: Billy Wilder (Scr)
  I. A. L. Diamond (Scr)
  R. Thoeren (Suggested by a story by)
  M. Logan (Suggested by a story by)
Photography: Charles Lang Jr. (Dir of photog)
  Floyd McCarty (Stills)
Art Direction: Ted Haworth (Art dir)
Film Editor: Arthur P. Schmidt (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Edward G. Boyle (Set dec)
  Tom Plews (Props)
Costumes: Orry-Kelly (Miss Monroe's gowns)
  Bert Henrikson (Ward)
Music: Adolph Deutsch (Background score)
  Matty Malneck (Songs supv)
  Eve Newman (Mus ed)
Sound: Fred Lau (Sd)
Special Effects: Milt Rice (Spec eff)
Make Up: Emile LaVigne (Makeup artist)
  Alice Monte (Hair styles)
  Agnes Flanagan (Hair styles)
Production Misc: John Franco (Scr cont)
  Allen K. Wood (Prod mgr)
  Alpha Steinman (Prod secy)
  John Veitch (Loc mgr)
  Paula Strasberg (Dial coach)
  Phil Benjamin (Casting)
Country: United States
Language: English

Songs: "Running Wild," words by Joe Grey and Leo Wood, music by A. Harrington Gibbs; "Down Among the Sheltering Palms," words by James Brockman, music by Abe Olman; "I Wanna Be Loved By You," words and music by Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby and Herbert Stothart; "I'm Through with Love," words and music by Gus Kahn, Joseph A. Livingston and Matty Malneck.
Composer: James Brockman
  A. Harrington Gibbs
  Joe Grey
  Gus Kahn
  Bert Kalmar
  Joseph A. Livingston
  Matty Malneck
  Abe Olman
  Harry Ruby
  Herbert Stothart
  Leo Wood
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Ashton Productions, Inc. 18/3/1959 dd/mm/yyyy LP13838

PCA NO: 19281
Physical Properties: Sd: Westrex Recording System

Genre: Comedy
Sub-Genre: with songs
Subjects (Major): Bands (Music)
  Female impersonation
Subjects (Minor): Beaches
  Chicago (IL)
  Impersonation and imposture
  Jazz music
  St. Valentine's Day Massacre, 1929
  Yachts and yachting

Note: The Var review erroneously listed a running time of 105 minutes for the film. The title of the film refers to the contemporary description of interpreting jazz music “hot” (improvisational) as opposed to “sweet” or “straight” (as written). The plot for Some Like It Hot was taken from a 1951 German film, Fanfaren das Liebe , written by Robert Thoeren and M. Logan. The story, to which writer-director Billy Wilder had purchased the rights, featured two Depression-era musicians who are driven by poverty to pretend to be gypsies, Black men and finally women in order to find work with various bands.
       A Jul 1958 HR news item noted that longtime actor-comedian Joe E. Brown was brought out of semi-retirement to play “Osgood Fielding III.” HR news items add the following actors to the cast: Jack Mather, Tiger Joe Marsh, Pat Cominsky, Fred Sherman, Billy Wayne, Ralph Volkie, Carl Sklover, John Logan, Gayle Gleason, Joyce Horne, Joan Kelly, Lisa Long, Dea Myles, Virginia Lee, Minta Durfee, H. Tommy Hart, Ted Christy, Joe Palma and George Lake, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. In addition the songs performed in the film, portions of the following tunes were used: “Sweet Georgia Brown,” “By the Beautiful Sea,” “Randolph Street Rag,” “La Cumprasita” and “Park Avenue Fantasy” (also known as “Stairway to the Sky”). As noted in various contemporary sources, the sequences set in Florida were shot on location at the Hotel Del Coronado Resort near San Diego, California.
       According to information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, in correspondence dated 5 Mar 1959, the Very Reverend Monsignor Thomas F. Little of the National Catholic Legion of Decency found Some Like It Hot to contain “screen material elements that are judged to be seriously offensive to Christian and traditional standards of morality and decency. ... The subject matter of ‘transvestism’ naturally leads to complications; in this film there seemed to us clear inference of homosexuality and lesbianism. The dialogue was not only ‘double entendre’ but outright smut. The offense in costuming was obvious." MPAA head Geoffrey Shurlock responded in a letter dated 18 Mar 1959: "So far there is simply no adverse reaction at all; nothing but praise for it as a hilariously funny movie. I am not suggesting, of course, that there are not dangers connected with a story of this type. But girls dressed as men, and occasionally men dressed as women for proper plot purposes, has been standard theatrical fare as far back as As You Like It and Twelfth Night ....We of course are not defending the two exaggerated costumes worn by the leading lady.” Information in the file indicates that, upon the film’s release, Kansas delayed distribution for two months when the state Board of Review refuses to approve the picture unless over one hundred feet of footage, mostly of the love scene between “Sugar Kane” and “Shell Oil, Junior,” was cut. The Memphis, TN Board of Censors rejected the film, then agreed to pass it if it was restricted to adults only.
       In a modern article by co-writer I. A. L. Diamond, he stated that he and Wilder spent a year developing the script. Wilder and Diamond decided to drop the first two plot devices from the Thoeren-Logan film and focus on the men dressing as women and joining an all-girl band. Initially, the Wilder-Diamond script was set in contemporary times because Wilder and Diamond felt they needed a situation more powerful than poverty to compel the characters to dress as women. According to Diamond, he suggested that a period setting would make it easier for the audience to accept female impersonation and Wilder then came up with the idea to set the story during the jazz age and have their characters witness a gangland slaying as motivation for hiding out. The gangland slaying that figures prominently in Some Like It Hot was loosely based upon the infamous St. Valentine's Day Massacre that took place in Chicago on 14 Feb, 1929. The "hit" was linked to mob boss Al Capone and took place against his longtime rival, George "Bugs" Moran, over control of Chicago's bootlegging, gambling and prostitution rackets. The massacre was plotted by Capone's top henchman, Jack “Machine Gun” McGurn, and featured four men masquerading as policemen making a bootlegging raid on seven of Moran's associates. Moran was not present at the slaying and Capone was in Florida. Neither Capone nor McGurn were ever charged with the murders.
       Diamond stated that Wilder offered Jack Lemmon the role of "Jerry," and Lemmon gave him a verbal agreement to appear in the film, despite being under contract to Columbia Pictures. Tony Curtis was signed first, but United Artists pressured Wilder to cast a bigger box-office name than Lemmon for the second male lead. According to Diamond, at UA’s recommendation, Wilder approached Frank Sinatra, but Sinatra failed to make an appointment with the director. A modern biography on Wilder states that the director also had approached Anthony Perkins to co-star with Sinatra. According to a news item in a modern source, Danny Kaye was also considered for Lemmon's role. Mitzi Gaynor was considered for “Sugar,” until Marilyn Monroe wrote to Wilder, expressing the hope that they could work together again after their success with The Seven Year Itch (see above). The FF review noted that Monroe consented to appear in the film only after production executive Harold Mirisch offered her ten percent of the gross. Once Monroe was signed, Wilder was able to sign Lemmon.
       Some Like It Hot marked the first of seven films that Lemmon would make with Wilder between 1959--1981 including The Apartment (see above), The Fortune Cookie (1966, see AFI Catalog of Feature Films 1961-70 ) and The Front Page (1974). Diamond credited Wilder with casting supporting actors Raft, Pat O’Brien and George E. Stone, all popularly associated with playing in gangster films in the 1930s and 1940s. In a modern interview with Wilder, he stated that he had hoped to cast Edward G. Robinson, but because of a long-standing disagreement between Robinson and Raft, Robinson refused. Edward G. Robinson, Jr., son of the actor, who famously portrayed several gangsters in 1930s films, appeared in the small role as the coin flipping henchman "Johnny Paradise," who pops out of the cake and kills “Spats” and his men. George Raft, who plays “Spats,” used the coin flipping gimmick in UA’s 1932 controversial gangster film, Scarface (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films: 1931-40 ).
       Diamond stated in his article that Curtis came up with the idea of Shell Oil, Junior mimicking actor Cary Grant's speech pattern. Diamond’s article and numerous modern interviews with Wilder describe difficulties with Monroe during filming, including forty-seven takes of the line “Where’s that bourbon?” that was eventually shot with the actress’ back to the camera. One Wilder biography states that the director was not happy with Curtis’ falsetto voice as “Josephine” and had it re-dubbed in a recording studio. In his autobiography, Lemmon indicates that Harry Ray helped to design his makeup.
       Diamond described the first preview for Some Like It Hot at the Bay Theatre in Pacific Palidsades, CA, where a conservative, middle-aged audience barely responded to the comedy. Two nights later, a second preview was held at the Village Theater in Westwood Village and the audience, primarily made up of university students, was enthusiastic.
       Although many modern sources indicate that the reviews upon the release of Some Like It Hot were mixed, most were positive. Var described the film as “probably the funniest picture of recent memory. It’s a whacky, clever, farcical comedy that starts off like a firecracker and keeps on throwing off lively sparks till the very end.” HR wrote that the film was a “supersonic, breakneck, belly-laugh comedy” and MPH called it “one of the wildest, wooliest and most infectiously fun comedies of the year.” In the LAT review under the headline: “ Some Like It Hot Not as Hot as Expected,” the reviewer found the film “not the unalloyed delight it was cracked up to be,” and considered it “not at all sure what kind of comedy it is.” The reviewer expressed annoyance with Curtis’ mimicking Cary Grant and labeled the closing line “a startler.” The film has gone on to become one of the highest regarded comedies of all time and Brown’s closing line of "Nobody's perfect" is one of Hollywood's most iconic moments. A 1939 Paramount production of Ben Hecht's musical show Some Like It Hot is not related to the Wilder film (see AFI Catalog of Featire Films, 1931-40 ).
       Some Like It Hot won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design (b&w) and received nominations for Best Actor (Lemmon), Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography (b&w), Best Director and Best Screenplay. In 2001, AFI selected Some Like It Hot as the number one comedy film of all time. Some Like It Hot was ranked 22nd on AFI's 2007 100 Years…100 Movies--10th Anniversary Edition list of the greatest American films, moving down from the 14th position it held on AFI's 1997 list. In 2001 Curtis began touring with a revival of the stage musical Sugar! (which originally ran on Broadway from Apr 1972 to Jun 1973) which was renamed Some Like It Hot . In that production, Curtis assumed the role of Osgood. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   2 Mar 1959.   
Box Office   16 Mar 1959.   
California Magazine   Dec 1985   p. 132, 135-36.
Daily Variety   25 Feb 59   p. 3.
Daily Variety   16 May 2001   p. 4, 14.
Film Daily   25 Feb 59   p. 8.
Filmfacts   15 Apr 1959   pp. 51-53.
Hollywood Reporter   31 Jul 1958   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   1 Aug 1958   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Aug 1958   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Aug 1958   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Aug 1958   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Sep 1958   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Oct 1958   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Nov 1958   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   25 Feb 59   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   24 Mar 1959   p. 1.
Los Angeles Mirror-News   28 Mar 1959.   
Los Angeles Times   9 Apr 1959.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   7 Mar 59   p. 181.
New York Times   30 Mar 59   p. 23.
New York Times   1 Aug 1999   p. 24.
Saturday Review   28 Mar 1959.   
Time   23 Mar 1959.   
Variety   25 Feb 1959   p. 6.

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