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!
'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 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.
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.
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.