Some Like It Hot (1959)

On the run from Chicago mobsters, two musicians don drag to join an all-girl jazz band fronted by Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe) in Billy Wilder’s hugely popular comedy.

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“It possesses a quality found in the best comedies – a sense of humanity and an attitude of compassion for the lunatics who play the fool for our sake.”
Bernard F. Dick, Billy Wilder, 1980

Billy Wilder’s zany cross-dressing comedy begins with a massacre – resembling the gangland St Valentine’s Day killings of 1929 – and ends with one of the most celebrated last lines in cinema history. Written in cahoots with the director’s new collaborator I.A.L. Diamond, Some Like It Hot ascends to inspired heights of silliness in-between, with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon both on career-best form as dragged-up musicians hiding out with Sugar Kane’s girl band.

Both the gangster story and the screwball antics hark back to Hollywood films of the 1930s, but Wilder’s outrageous and subversive play with gender was truly boundary pushing and helped lead to a loosening of censorship after United Arists released the film without certification.

A US immigration technicality forces French serviceman Cary Grant to don a woman’s uniform in Howard Hawks’ earlier farce, I Was a Male War Bride (1949).

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