When Marilyn Met ‘Whiplash Wilder’

Charles Higham’s 1967 interview with director Billy Wilder for Sight & Sound magazine has been reposted online. Interestingly, Some Like It Hot was referred to as under-performing at the box-office in the article. This was definitely not the case, although the same magazine had given it a lukewarm review back in 1959 (see here.) Regardless, it’s worth bearing in mind that Some Like It Hot was once considered a little edgy and didn’t always have the classic status it enjoys today, with their critic John Dyer rather stuffily dismissing it as ‘a touch of consulting room fantasy.’

Some Like It Hot rather disappointed box-office expectations, didn’t it?

Yes, it was far ahead of its time. If we made it today it would be a huge success. We had a problem persuading Tony Curtis to get into women’s clothing, but Jack Lemmon was an all-out clown and extrovert and enjoyed the whole thing enormously.

Marilyn Monroe was sensitive and very difficult. She tried hard, but you had to wait for her to come through, to start rolling, and then her tiny kind of inhibition disappeared and after that she was phenomenal, one of the great comediennes. The metabolism had to be right with her, and if it was right, she was a marvellous thing to direct.”

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