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Past Films

Some Like It Hot (1959)

  • Starring: Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, George Raft
  • Director: Billy Wilder
  • Genre(s): Classics , Comedy , Drama , Musical & Performing Arts
  • Rating: G
  • Running Time: 120 min.

This new quarterly series showcases the “essential” films everyone should see on the big screen. For each month-long program, we’ll screen five films organized by one of the following themes: directors, actors, genres, and eras/movements.

Essential tickets are $9 for Adults, $8 for Students/Seniors and Members get in Free!

he all-time outrageous, satirical, comedy farce favorite, Some Like It Hot (1959) is one of the most hilarious, raucous films ever made. The ribald film is a clever combination of many elements: a spoof of 1920-30’s gangster films with period costumes and speakeasies, and romance in a quasi-screwball comedy with one central joke - entangled and deceptive identities, reversed sex roles and cross-dressing. In fact, one of the film’s major themes is disguise and masquerade - e.g., the drag costumes of the two male musicians, Joe’s disguise as a Cary Grant-like impotent millionaire, and Jerry’s happiness with a real wealthy, yacht-owning retiree.

The exceptional film was the all-time highest-grossing comedy up to its time, one of the most successful films of 1959, and Wilder’s funniest comedy in his career. The film was inspired by director Kurt Hoffmann’s German movie comedy/musical Fanfares of Love (1951) (aka Fanfaren der Liebe) with a similar plot element that writer/director Wilder borrowed: two down-on-their-luck, unemployed jazz musicians dress up as women in order to get two weeks of work in an all-women’s dance band bound for Florida, after witnessing a gang-land massacre in Prohibition-Era Chicago and being pursued by the mob. [The gangland slaying in the film was loosely based upon Chicago’s infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre on Feb, 14, 1929.] Only a few other cross-dressing comedies have come close to approximating the film’s daring hilarity: Tootsie (1982), La Cage Aux Folles (1978) and Victor/Victoria (1982). Some Like It Hot also inspired the Broadway musical Sugar that opened in 1972.

Two Struggling musicians witness the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and are now on the run from the Mob. Jerry and Joe cross-dress into an all female band. In addition to hiding, each has his own problems; One falls for another band member but can’t tell her his gender, and the other has a rich suitor who will not take “No,” for an answer.

"One of Wilder's funniest satires."
- Derek Adams, Time Out
"Pictures like this, with a sense of humor that is as broad as it can be sophisticated, come along only infrequently."
- Variety
"Wilder's 1959 comedy is one of the enduring treasures of the movies, a film of inspiration and meticulous craft."
- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times