In a review for Slant, Chris Cabin and Jake Cole discuss the latest Blu-Ray release from Kino Lorber’s Studio Classics series, judging it the ‘best-ever home video presentation’ of Some Like It Hot – with interesting commentary on Marilyn’s performance.
“The first time Marilyn Monroe, as the perfectly named Sugar Kane Kowalczyk, walks onto the screen in Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot, even the train—with a whistle of steam—can’t resist catcalling her … Of course, Joe and Jerry are the only men who seem interested in courting Sugar Kane, a fantastical suspension of disbelief that goes hand in hand with the idea that no one can tell that Curtis’s Josephine and Lemmon’s Daphne aren’t hiding something under their Orry-Kelly dresses…
Indeed, Sugar Kane falls hard for Joe, but only as he takes on the guise of Junior, the preposterously wealthy heir to the Shell Oil fortune, in a bid to get the voluptuous singer in the sack. Cynicism, as usual with Wilder, is pervasive here, and once she hears about Junior’s fortune, Sugar Kane can barely keep her dress on in front of Joe, who, as Junior, mimics Cary Grant in yacht-owner drag. Sugar Kane’s willingness to indulge in the perverse proclivities of the rich is more grounded here than Monroe’s Lorelei in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, but then, Some Like It Hot is a far more ambiguous affair than Howard Hawks’s extravagantly ludicrous musical …
By the end of Some Like It Hot, Sugar Kane is singing ‘I’m Through with Love,’ but it’s a song she’s been singing all along, gossiping with Josephine about all the lousy musicians who’ve romanced her and then bilked her for all that she’s worth. The lead singer of the Sweet Sues doesn’t show up until a solid 30 minutes into the film, but make no mistake, Monroe’s importance in this picture is second only to Wilder’s … Monroe even appears to overwhelm Lemmon, whose Jerry takes to repeating, ‘I’m a girl, I’m a girl, I’m a girl,’ as if to divert himself from any frisky business when Sugar Kane cozies up next to him while he’s dressed up as Daphne … Whatever she put Wilder, Lemmon, Curtis, the crew, and their financial backers through was worth it for what’s on screen: an outrageous, hilarious, and amazingly unpretentious trip through a funhouse of sexual identities.”
The review also argues that Kino Lorber’s UHD package surpasses even the Criterion Collection’s recent 4K release.
Though both releases were sourced from the same restoration, Kino’s 4K outpaces the Criterion Collection’s 2018 Blu-ray, offering sharper image contrast and richer visual detail at every turn. There’s an added sparkle to the way the frame always lightens when Marilyn Monroe is isolated in a given shot or speakeasy lights reflect off of instruments, while darker scenes boast greater definition and stability. Even shots of patterned suits no longer suffer from the moiré effect. Unlike the Criterion disc, Kino’s release comes with a 5.1 surround remix, though the original mono is also included and remains the more faithful option. Both tracks are crystal clear with no noticeable defects, such as hissing or cracks, perfectly balancing the boisterous, jazzy soundtrack with the rat-a-tat dialogue.
Typically, any potential A/V upgrade for a film previously released by Criterion is at least partially offset by a loss of bonus features, but this disc holds its own on that front. Kino ditches the Howard Suber commentary in favor of an archival track with Paul Diamond (son of I.A.L. Diamond) and screenwriters Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel that also includes clips from Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis interviews, as well as a new commentary featuring film historian Joseph McBride. Both tracks provide a wealth of detail about Some Like It Hot’s production and subject matter, but McBride gives the fuller portrait of the film’s historical significance and artistic merit. Also on the archival front we get a few nostalgic documentaries on the film’s making and its legacy, as well as chats between Wilder and filmmaker Volker Schlöndorff. These extras aren’t quite as robust as Criterion’s slate of archival interviews, but this disc’s commentary tracks offer far more to chew on than Suber’s dry rundown of the film.”
Thanks to A Passion for Marilyn