Some Like It Hot

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Some Like It Hot
Some Like It Hot poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Billy Wilder
Produced by Billy Wilder
Screenplay by Billy Wilder
I. A. L. Diamond
Based on story by
Robert Thoeren
Michael Logan
Starring Marilyn Monroe
Tony Curtis
Jack Lemmon
George Raft
Joe E. Brown
Pat O'Brien
Music by Adolph Deutsch
Cinematography Charles Lang
Edited by Arthur P. Schmidt
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • March 29, 1959 (1959-03-29)
Running time 121 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2,883,848
Box office $40 million

Some Like It Hot is a 1959 American comedy film directed by Billy Wilder and starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. The supporting cast includes George Raft, Pat O'Brien, Joe E. Brown, Joan Shawlee and Nehemiah Persoff.

In 2000, the American Film Institute listed Some Like It Hot as the greatest American comedy film of all time.


It is February 1929 in the city of Chicago. Joe is a jazz saxophone player, irresponsible gambler and ladies' man; his friend Jerry is a sensible jazz double-bass player. They accidentally witness the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre. When the gangsters, led by "Spats" Colombo, spot them, the two run for their lives.

Penniless and in a mad rush to get out of town, the two musicians take a job with Sweet Sue and her Society Syncopators, an all-female band headed to Miami. Disguised as women and calling themselves Josephine and Daphne, they board a train with the band and their male manager, Bienstock. Before they board the train, Joe and Jerry notice Sugar Kane, the band's vocalist and ukulele player.

Joe and Jerry become enamored of Sugar and compete for her affection while maintaining their disguises. Sugar confides that she has sworn off male saxophone players, who have stolen her heart in the past and left her with "the fuzzy end of the lollipop". She has set her sights on finding a sweet, bespectacled millionaire in Florida. During the forbidden drinking and partying on the train, Josephine and Daphne become intimate friends with Sugar, and have to struggle to remember that they are supposed to be girls and cannot make a pass at her.

Once in Miami, Joe woos Sugar by assuming a second disguise as a millionaire named Junior, the heir to Shell Oil, while feigning disinterest in Sugar. An actual millionaire, an aging mama's boy, the much-married Osgood Fielding III, tries repeatedly to pick up Daphne, who rebuffs him. Osgood invites Daphne for a champagne supper on his yacht. Joe convinces Daphne to keep Osgood occupied onshore so that Junior can take Sugar to Osgood's yacht, passing it off as his. Once on the yacht, Junior explains to Sugar that, due to psychological trauma, he is impotent and frigid, but that he would marry anyone who could change that. Sugar tries to arouse some sexual response in Junior, and begins to succeed. Meanwhile, Daphne and Osgood dance the tango till dawn.

When Joe and Jerry get back to the hotel, Jerry explains that Osgood has proposed marriage to Daphne and that he, as Daphne, has accepted, anticipating an instant divorce and huge cash settlement when his ruse is revealed. Joe convinces Jerry that he cannot actually marry Osgood.

The hotel hosts a conference for "Friends of Italian Opera", who are actually mobsters. Spats and his gang from Chicago recognize Joe and Jerry as the witnesses to the Valentine's Day murders. Joe and Jerry, fearing for their lives, realize they must quit the band and leave the hotel. Joe breaks Sugar's heart by telling her that he, Junior, has to marry a woman of his father's choosing and move to Venezuela.

After several chases, Joe and Jerry witness additional mob killings, this time of Spats and his crew. Joe, dressed as Josephine, sees Sugar onstage singing that she will never love again. He kisses her before he leaves, and Sugar realizes that Joe is both Josephine and Junior.

Sugar runs from the stage at the end of her performance and is able to jump into the launch from Osgood's yacht just as it is leaving the dock with Joe, Jerry, and Osgood. Joe tells Sugar that he is not good enough for her, that she would be getting the "fuzzy end of the lollipop" yet again, but Sugar wants him anyway. Jerry, for his part, comes up with a list of reasons why he and Osgood cannot get married, ranging from a smoking habit to infertility. Osgood dismisses them all; he loves Daphne and is determined to go through with the marriage. Exasperated, Jerry removes his wig and shouts, "I'm a man!" Osgood simply responds, "Well, nobody's perfect."



The film is based on a screenplay by Robert Thoeren and Michael Logan for the French comedy Fanfare d’Amour (1935). The original story was also the basis for the German comedy Fanfaren der Liebe (1951) by director Kurt Hoffmann. Neumann's version is rather a musical comedy without gangster in the script. Some Like It Hot is often seen as a remake of Fanfare d’Amour und Fanfaren der Liebe[citation needed] Some Like It Hot was not the first time that Wilder worked with costume comedy: His first American movie was The Major and the Minor, where Ginger Rogers dressed as a 12-year-old to get a cheaper train ticket.[1]

Marilyn Monroe worked for 10% of the gross in excess of $4 million, Tony Curtis for 5% of the gross over $2 million and Billy Wilder 17.5% of the first million after breakeven and 20% thereafter.[2]

The Florida segment, at the fictitious "Seminole Ritz", was filmed at the Hotel Del Coronado in Coronado, California.[3]

The studio hired famed aerialist and female impersonator Barbette to coach Lemmon and Curtis on gender illusion for the film.[4]

Tony Curtis is frequently quoted as saying that kissing Marilyn Monroe was like "kissing Hitler". However, during a 2001 interview with Leonard Maltin, Curtis stated that he had never made this claim.[5] In his 2008 autobiography, Curtis notes that he did make the statement to the film crew, but it was meant in a joking manner.[6] During his appearance at the Jules Verne Festival in France in 2008, Curtis claimed on the set of Laurent Ruquier's TV show that he and Monroe were lovers in the late 1940s when they were first struggling for recognition in films.

After working with Monroe on "The Seven Year Itch," Wilder swore he would never work with her again, but he was delighted when he heard that she had read the script for Some Like It Hot and wanted to play the part of Sugar. "It's wonderful that Monroe wanted that part," he said in an interview. "We had a big, big bomb there in that cannon that we could shoot off. We would not have that sex thing."

Joe E. Brown was not the original choice for the role of Osgood. It was not until Wilder and Diamond heard him at a Los Angeles Dodgers game that the idea entered their minds. As Wilder remembers, "There was a loudspeaker on the field behind home plate, and people talking, and now comes the next speaker and it's Joe E. Brown. And I said, 'That's our guy, that's our guy!' Nobody ever thought of him."

The famous final line of the film, "Well, nobody's perfect," was suggested by Diamond, and was supposed to be a placeholder until Wilder and Diamond could come up with what they hoped would be a much better line. As revealed in "Conversations with Billy Wilder", a book of interviews between Billy Wilder and Cameron Crowe, Wilder said to Diamond, "Look, let's go back to your line, 'Nobody's perfect.' Let's send it to the mimeograph department so that they have something, and then we're going to really sit down and make a real funny last line."


Some Like it Hot received widespread critical acclaim. Rotten Tomatoes reports a score of 96%, with an average score of 8.9 out of 10. Roger Ebert says about the movie, "Wilder's 1959 comedy is one of the enduring treasures of the movies, a film of inspiration and meticulous craft."

The film earned an estimated $7.2 million in rentals in the US and Canada during its first year of release, making it one of the biggest hits of the year.[7] However because so much of the profits were given away to key participants, UA only made $500,000 during the first year (compared to Wilder who earned $1.2 million, Monroe $800,000 and Curtis $500,000).[2]

Despite critical accolades, at the time of release it was one of the only American films to receive a "C" or Condemned rating by the Roman Catholic Church's Legion of Decency. [8]


The film was awarded an Academy Award for Best Costume Design, Black-and-White (Orry-Kelly) and was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Jack Lemmon), Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White (Ted Haworth, Edward G. Boyle), Best Cinematography, Black-and-White, Academy Award for Best Director and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.[9]



An unsold television pilot was filmed by Mirisch Productions in 1961 featuring Vic Damone and Tina Louise. As a favor to the production company, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis agreed to film cameo appearances, returning as their original characters, Daphne and Josephine, at the beginning of the pilot. Their appearance sees them in a hospital where Jerry (Lemmon) is being treated for his impacted back tooth and Joe (Curtis) is the same O blood type.[10]

In 1972, a musical play based on the screenplay of the film, entitled Sugar, opened on Broadway, starring Elaine Joyce, Robert Morse, Tony Roberts and Cyril Ritchard, with book by Peter Stone, lyrics by Bob Merrill, and (all-new) music by Jule Styne. A 1991 production of this show in London featured Tommy Steele and retained the original title. In 2002, Tony Curtis performed in a stage production of the film. He portrayed the character originally played by Joe E. Brown.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Glenn Hopp: Billy Wilder, sämtliche Filme. Taschen Verlag, Köln 2003, ISBN 3-8228-1685-X, S. 122.
  2. ^ a b Tino Balio, United Artists: The Company The Changed the Film Industry, Uni of Wisconsin Press, 1987 p 170
  3. ^ Lucas, Kate (January 17, 2010). "Locations, Locations, Locations". The Orange County Register. p. Travel 2. Retrieved January 23, 2010. 
  4. ^ Liner, Elaine (2002-06-13). "Swingers: Barbette soars to greatness with the tragic tale of a trapeze artist". Dallas Observer. Retrieved 2008-05-19. 
  5. ^ This interview is contained in DVD editions of the film.
  6. ^ American Prince, published by Harmony Books, ISBN 978-1-905264-34-6
  7. ^ "1959: Probable Domestic Take", Variety, 6 January 1960 p 34
  8. ^ Phillips, Gene. Some Like it Wilder. University of Kentucky Press. p. 223. 
  9. ^ "NY Times: Some Like It Hot". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-23. 
  10. ^

Further reading[edit]

  • Curtis, Tony. The Making of Some Like It Hot, Wiley & Sons, Hoboken NJ, 2009. ISBN 978-0-470-53721-3.
  • Maslon, Laurence. Some Like It Hot: The Official 50th Anniversary Companion, New York, HarperCollins, 2009. ISBN 978-0-06-176123-2.

External links[edit]