‘Some Like It Hot’: A Different Kind of Romance

In an Indiewire list of the 70 Greatest Romantic Comedies of All Time, Marilyn makes just one appearance, with Some Like It Hot ranked in 50th place. This seems like a low rating for a film which AFI voters judged as the best comedy of all time. While Marilyn and Tony Curtis certainly turned up the heat in their love scenes, Some Like It Hot is arguably more of a screwball comedy than a rom-com, per se.

“Billy Wilder penned the screenplay for Some Like It Hot with I. A. L. Diamond after collaborating with Marilyn Monroe on The Seven Year Itch in 1955. Monroe stars as ukulele player Sugar Kane, who unknowingly crosses paths with two men (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) who are running from a Chicago mobster, in what is easily her best rom-com, if not her outright best film. Disguised as women, the pair of musicians join an all-ladies band headed for Miami, unleashing an ensemble comedy for the ages in the process. Curtis and Monroe enjoy an unforgettable (and just so darn likable!) attraction that’s made all the more fun by the film’s giddy final act.” – Alison Foreman

Among Marilyn’s contemporaries, Audrey Hepburn and Doris Day both make several appearances on the list (with three entries each – including Pillow Talk and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, both initially mooted for Marilyn.)

From her own filmography, I would suggest that Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, and The Seven Year Itch are also worthy of inclusion. (The Prince and the Showgirl also had rom-com elements, but is generally less popular today.) However, in both Blondes and Millionaire, female friendship is of equal, if not greater importance than romance; and Itch, like Hot, is more farcical than romantic.

Of all her screen partners, Marilyn probably had the most sexual chemistry with Robert Mitchum (River of No Return) and Clark Gable (The Misfits) – but those roles were in dramas, not comedies. And unlike her aforementioned female peers, Marilyn’s sex symbol status often put her screen partners in the shade.