Some Like It Hot (1959)
- Street Date:
- May 10th, 2011
- Reviewed by:
- Steven Cohen
- Review Date: 1
- May 19th, 2011
- Movie Release Year:
- 20th Century Fox
- 120 Minutes
- MPAA Rating:
- Release Country
- United States
The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
Of all the genres motion pictures have to offer, comedies tend to age the worst. Whether from an over reliance on jokes pertaining to current events (lookin' at you Dreamworks), constant pop culture references (lookin' at you Dreamworks), or just as a result of natural shifts in comedic trends and what society finds funny, even the best comedies have a habit of dating themselves. What was once so gut-bustingly hilarious in 1931 or in some cases just a few years ago, now falls completely flat. Thankfully though, some comedies avoid these pitfalls and somehow find a certain level of timelessness. Billy Wilder's 1959 classic 'Some Like It Hot' is a perfect example of such a film. Its combination of wonderful performances, comedic timing, and witty dialogue, provide an experience that is still potently funny and entertaining over fifty years after it was first released.
'Some Like It Hot' follows two struggling musicians, Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) who unwittingly witness a gruesome murder at the hands of some notorious gangsters in Prohibition era Chicago. Fearing for their lives and going on the run, they decide to get out of town by taking a music gig in Florida. The only trouble is that said gig is for an all female band. With no other options, the two decide to trade their suits for dresses, strap on some high heeled shoes, brush some wigs, and suddenly Joe becomes Josephine and Jerry becomes Geraldine--err, I mean Daphne! From here the movie follows the pair as they carry on their feminine ruse and vie for the affections of Sugar (Marilyn Monroe) a beautiful but naïve fellow member of the band.
The script is wonderfully written and features some fantastic dialogue and characterizations that bring unique voices and extra substance to all of the players involved. Much of the humor comes from smart, witty quips, and sometimes risqué bits of constant innuendo. Wilder's direction perfectly complements the screenplay, bringing a fairly nondescript but still artful style to the screen. Emphasis is placed mostly on the performances, but the compositions, cuts, and camera movements, all show an expert understanding of comedic timing, bolstering the actors' interpretations of the scenes and characters in a way that reveals extra little touches of hilarity.
Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon are both remarkable here, showing a wide range of skill. As his female alter ego, Daphne, Lemmon is a wild ball of nervous energy and excitement. As pointed out in the included commentary, there is a level of madness to his performance that makes it truly special. Everything from his manic facial expressions, to strange little physical ticks, adds another level of fun to the character. Curtis, on the other hand, is much more restrained and serves to anchor the film a bit. Even so, his performance as Josephine has some wonderful moments and he goes on to display even more comedic charm when he pretends to be a wealthy business man who speaks in a hilarious Cary Grant impersonation. Then of course, there's Monroe. Her character is a little ditzy but sweet, and she infuses the role with a wonderful mixture of innocent naivety and sultry sensuality. This is one of her truly iconic performances and there are moments and scenes where she takes on an almost indefinable quality, transcending mere superficial eye candy and becoming an indelible, shining image that has and will remain in the public consciousness for many generations to come.
In the end, 'Some Like It Hot' is a wonderful comedy, one that has stood the test of time and become a well admired classic. Though the premise is a bit ludicrous, with a few gags that do fall a little flat, and the climax of the film does rely on some pretty big coincidences, these minor issues never diminish the fun of it all. In our current climate of mostly disposable comedies (lookin' at YOU Dreamworks) where jokes go bad mere weeks after their release, 'Some Like It Hot' proves that in the right hands, humor can be timeless. Zowie!
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
'Some Like It Hot' is presented in a black and white 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer in the 1.66:1 aspect ratio. Overall, the video here looks good but not stellar and shows a bit of the film's age.
The source print is in fairly nice shape, but there are a few white specks that pop up every now and then. This is most prevalent in the earlier parts of the film, and one scene in particular in a garage is a bit problematic, with enough specks present that they start to resemble sparkling stars all across the image. Thankfully this vastly improves and is never terribly distracting. Otherwise, signs of damage and age are minimal, and there's a very light level of grain present throughout.
The image has a somewhat soft quality to it, which isn't unusual for a Hollywood film of this time. Detail is still good though, and while there are only a few instances of great depth to the image, contrast and black levels are strong, giving an occasionally pleasing pop to the picture.
While not the most impressive looking classic film on Blu-ray, 'Some Like It Hot' holds its own with a solid presentation.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
The movie is presented in an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Though labeled a 5.1 track, this mix seems to remain pretty faithful to the audio's original mono roots.
Dialogue is nice and crisp, with no prevalent distortion, hissing, or other signs of age. Dynamic range is fairly muted and bass is mostly absent. Surrounds are fairly inactive, but do come into play during some of the shootouts, most notably the opening scene, and the music sequences. Thankfully, the surround effects come across as mostly natural and not gimmicky or obtrusive. Directionality between the front speakers is also fairly minimal but appropriately used.
Overall, 'Some Like It Hot' offers a nice, respectable soundtrack that brings some minor updates to the original audio.
The disc is also equipped with a French 5.1 DTS track, a German 5.1 DTS track, a Castilian 5.1 DTS track, an Italian 5.1 DTS track, a Spanish Mono track, and a Portuguese Mono track with an overwhelming assortment of subtitle options including English SDH, Spanish, French, Castilian, Italian, Russian, German, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Swedish, and Hebrew.
The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff
There's a nice assortment of supplements here including an audio commentary and some making of featurettes. Unfortunately, a lot of the information and interviews themselves are repeated throughout the various extras. Still, they're certainly worth a look for fans of the film. All of the supplements are provided in standard definition in Dolby Digital stereo with no subtitle options unless otherwise noted.
- Audio Commentary featuring interviews with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon and commentary by Paul Diamond, Lowell Ganz, and Babaloo Mandel - This commentary is headlined by Paul Diamond, the son of original screenwriter I.A.L. Diamond, and screenwriters (not of this film) Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel. Interviews with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon are also edited in throughout. Overall, this is a decent commentary track. The three writers offer some interesting tidbits every now and then but mostly stick to gushing over the film's quotable dialogue and memorable scenes. Jack Lemmon is featured the least, but his input is always interesting. The real highlights here are Tony Curtis' entertaining, frank, and often quite crass remarks about the film, including a particularly noteworthy bit where he goes on to describe, in almost disturbing detail, how one of Monroe's dresses was specifically designed to show off her ample assets. All of the participants also discuss how Monroe was going through a tough emotional time during the making of the film and was constantly late and frequently prone to flubbing her lines. While not the most informative or entertaining track, it's still worth a listen for fans. Subtitles are also provided for the track itself in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.
- The Making of Some Like It Hot (SD, 26 min) - This is a fairly comprehensive and interesting look at the making of the film featuring various interviews with the cast and filmmakers. Most of the production process is covered touching on topics that include Wilder and Diamond's writing methods, how the cast got involved, some on set trivia, and test screening reactions which led to one scene being cut from the final print. All in all, this is a worthy feature that should offer fans some nice bits of insight.
- The Legacy of Some Like It Hot (SD, 20 min) - This features more interviews with the filmmakers and cast along with some film critics, director Curtis Hansen, and Hugh Hefner. Emphasis is placed on the positives and negatives of working with Marilyn Monroe and the lasting impression of her performance and the film as a whole, including its gradual increase in prestige over the years.
- Nostalgic Look Back Documentary (SD, 31 min) - This is an interview conducted by Leonard Maltin with Tony Curtis. Though a lot of the footage and information discussed here was already included or touched upon in the previous features, there are still some nice new bits of information peppered throughout, including some more frank and entertaining stories.
- Memories from the Sweet Sues Featurette (SD, 12 min) - This a look back at the production of the film with four of the actresses who were featured in the all girl band in the movie. The actresses tell stories about working with Monroe, Lemmon, and Wilder, and though brief, they do offer a few worthwhile insights.
- Virtual Hall of Memories (SD, 21 min) - This is essentially a slideshow of clips from the film, stills, and behind the scenes photos set to music from the movie. Subtitles are included in English, French, German, Spanish, and Dutch.
- Original Theatrical Trailer (HD) - The film's original theatrical trailer.
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
There are no HD exclusives.
Overall, Billy Wilder's classic 'Some Like It Hot' is a wonderful comedy that features a great script and fantastic performances that are still as fresh and entertaining today as they were over half a century ago. The video and audio are solid and supplements are plentiful but cover a lot of the same ground. Basically, a worthy disc to a really good film. Recommended.
- BD-50 Dual-Layer Disc
- Region A
- 1080p/AVC MPEG-4
- English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
- Spanish Mono
- French 5.1 DTS
- English SDH, Spanish, French
- Audio Commentary featuring interviews with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon and commentary by Paul Diamond, Lowell Ganz, and Babaloo Mandel
- The Making of Some Like It Hot
- The Legacy of Some Like It Hot
- Nostalgic Look Back Documentary
- Memories from the Sweet Sues Featurette
- Virtual Hall of Memories
- Original Theatrical Trailer
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