Infinite Variety: Marilyn Goes From ‘Eve’ to Sugar

Following Sight & Sound magazine’s recent list, Variety has compiled a staff list of the 100 Best Movies of All Time, with Some Like It Hot ranked 39th – and All About Eve in 9th place overall.

Variety‘s original review for Some Like It Hot (1959) also makes for an interesting read…

Some Like It Hot, directed in masterly style by Billy Wilder, is probably the funniest picture of recent memory. It’s a whacky, clever, farcical comedy that starts off like a firecracker and keeps on throwing off lively sparks till the very end.

Pictures like this, with a sense of humour that is as broad as it can be sophisticated, come along only infrequently. Add to this the attraction of Marilyn Monroe, returning to the screen after a two year absence in a part that’s tailor-made for her particular talents, topnotch performances by Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, and the directorial brilliance of Wilder, and the concoction becomes irresistible.

Even so, the film has its faults. It’s too long, for one, being a small joke milked like a dairy; one or two scenes skirt the limits of good taste. But who’ll care?

Again, the scene on the train, where the ‘private’ pullman berth party of Lemmon and Miss Monroe in her nightie is invaded by guzzling dames, represents humor of Lubitsch proportions. And the alternating shots of Miss Monroe trying to stimulate Curtis on a couch, while Lemmon and Brown live it up on the dance floor, rate as a classic sequence.

To coin a phrase, Marilyn has never looked better. Her performance as ‘Sugar,’ the fuzzy blonde who likes saxophone players ‘and men with glasses’ has a deliciously naive quality. She’s a comedienne with that combination of sex appeal and timing that just can’t be beat. If, at the time of the filming she was pregnant, and the tight dresses she’s asked to wear just don’t fit very well, never mind. This gal can take it, and so can the audience.

But, in the final accounting, this is still a director’s picture and the Wilder touch is indelible, particularly since he’s collaborated with I. A. L. Diamond on the script. If the action is funny, the lines are there to match it. In fact, laughs often step on one another. Of course, in a two-hour picture, the pace is bound to slacken eventually, and it does. But the momentum of this madcap comedy is such that it keeps rolling along, a gay romp that knows just when to draw back before crossing the line to the vulgar.

Miss Monroe performs a couple of songs capably and in the style of the twenties. Charles Lang’s photography, in black-and-white, is just fine and so is Adolph Deutsch’s background score. Arthur Schmidt’s editing makes for smooth continuality and, in several scenes, contributes importantly.

Some Like It Hot goes on the premise that a laugh is a laugh, regardless where you find it, and it knows that men dressed as women tickle the risibilities of male and female alike. Since much of it is also clever, the film should provide United Artists with one of its top grossers for the year.”

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