Barbara Diamond, the wife of I.A.L Diamond (Billy Wilder’s writing partner for ‘Some Like It Hot’ and other Hollywood classics) said this about THAT famous last line in the iconic 1950’s comedy:
“Most of the mail I get is letters from all over the world talking about “Some Like It Hot.” I would say overall, it’s probably the biggest hit I’ve ever been in, I’m sure. I’ve had films that have grossed more in the beginning, but they’ve had a shorter life; this just keeps on going and going and going.
Today in history, a giant of the entertainment industry, Oscar winning writer and Director Billy Wilder would have turned 114 years old.
Billy Wilder directed Marilyn in her two most successful comedies: “The Seven Year Itch” (1955) and “Some Like It Hot” (1959). In his many statements to biographers and journalists, his full appreciation for her talents, and dispair at the strains of working with her, are eloquently and directly expressed. Wilder defined Marilyn’s special magnetism on camera as “flesh impact- she looks on the screen as if you could reach out and touch her… she had a quality no-one else ever had on the screen expect Garbo.” And years after her death, he summed up his feelings: “I miss her. It was like going to the dentist, making a picture with her. It was hell at the time, but after it was over, it was wonderful. “
Dubbed “Hollywood’s most mischievous immigrant,” Wilder was behind some of the most iconic and highly respected movies ever to come out of Tinsletown. His impressive list of credits also include “Double Indemnity” (1944), “A Foreign Affair” (1948), “Sunset Boulevard” (1950), “Stalag 17” (1953), “Sabrina” (1954), all of which were Oscar nominated, as well as “The Lost Weekend” (1945), and “The Apartment” (1960), both of which won Oscars. In 1986, Wilder recieved a Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute.
After Wilder passed away in 2002, he was buried at Westwood Villiage Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, the same final resting place as Marilyn (and only two plots away from his long time friend and colleague Jack Lemmon.) His headstone reads:
A tribute to arguably one of his greatest gifts to the world: “Some Like It Hot.“
“To this day, I have never read a better comedy script in the history of film.”
61 years have passed since Sugar, Joe/Josephine/Shell Oil Junior and Jerry/Daphne stole our hearts and made us laugh in the comedy that proclaimed “nobodies perfect!” and secured its place in history as a bonafied classic, still loved and adored around the world today.
This film simply needs no introduction, but if you are new to Marilyn films (or even to films in general) here is a brief synopsis of the film the AFI once ranked the ‘Funniest American Movie Of All Time.’
“When Chicago musicians Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) accidently witness a gangland shooting, they quickly board a southbound train to Florida, disguised as Josephine and Daphne, the two newest and homeliest members of an all girl jazz band. Their cover is perfect, until a lovelorn singer (Marilyn Monroe) falls for “Josephine”an ancient playboy (Joe E. Brown) falls for “Daphne” and a mob boss (George Raft) refuses to fall for their hoax!
Nominated for 7 Academy Awards, ‘Some Like It Hot’ is the quintessential madcap farce and ‘one of the greatest of all film comedies’ (The Motion Picture Guide.) “
“Some Like It Hot” made its debut around the world in March 1959. Premiere’s were held in Chicago (which Marilyn attended) and Memphis on 17th March and then in Washington on the 21st March. But it was the New York premiere at the Lowe’s Capital Theatre on 29th March 1959 that fans remember most for the photographs and video footage of Marilyn arriving at the theatre arm in arm with her then husband Arthur Miller, greeting fans and photographers and still looking every inch the movie star in a gorgeous silver evening gown and fur wrap.
So much has been said and written about the problems that occurred on the set of “Some Like It Hot.” And if we’re to believe everything we read, it’s any wonder the film was finished at all! But we are here today to celebrate this wonderful film and not to dwell on the trials and tribulations of its creation.
One thing that has always stood out, is the love and appreciation that everyone involved in the making of the film has shown throughout the years. You feel a sense of pride from them at having been a part of such genuine, well loved and highly respected film. Marilyn sadly only lived for a further 4 years after completing “Some Like It Hot,” so little is known of her opinion of the finished film once it had been released to the general public. But I like to think that had she lived, she too would have felt the same sense of love and pride at having been involved with a film that has brought so much joy and laughter into so many peoples lives.
“The film did go considerably over budget. However, when it was all done and we looked at the film, I must say we were immensely enthused and we genuinely felt that this was a truly wonderful comedy. I don’t know that I would have believed then that it could have stood the test of all the time that has passed since it was first shown, but we sure thought it was good. I didn’t know it would last fifty or a hundred years.
It became the cornerstone of the long relationship that we developed with Billy because he remained with us the longest of all the directors that we booked to our company. The film was a huge success and of course was a great launching pad for our company because it was very early on in our history and so it’s highly significant in my life and my career. With all the incredible movies that Billy’s made, this is in the top three. I like to think that it’s maybe the best American comedy ever made.”
Walter Mirisch (Producer.)
“It’s interesting that when Billy Wilder and I were shooting “Some Like It Hot” then a year later “The Apartment,” the general feeling in Hollywood was Billy was nuts and that neither one of the films would work. In “Some Like It Hot” he had Tony Curtis and me in drag for eighty five percent of the picture and the premise was really just a five minute burlesque sketch stretched to two hours. But Billy sensed it would work and he was right.. it became a classic.”
“Years after our picture was finished, I looked at it and realised that it was bigger than all of us put together. Could they have done it with someone else in my part? Or Jack’s part? Or Marilyn’s part? No. Could someone remake it now? Of course not. Billy and Izzy tailored the characters to us as we were creating them. We had to adjust ourselves to that. It was demanding and trying and sometimes exhausting, but it was worth it. Because of that process, ‘Some Like It Hot’ is truly our movie. It was tailored to our individual talents and to our collective talents. Brilliantly conceived and brilliantly tailored.” Tony Curtis.
“Some Like It Hot” was like the greatest souffle ever made. It had the perfect ingredients, it had the greatest script, a great director, a great cast… of course the greatest Chef was Billy Wilder, but it really was like the greatest souffle ever made in history…… I was very happy to be a part of it.”
Sandra Warner (‘Emily’ from Sweet Sue’s Society of Syncopators)
“It’s well written, well directed, it’s well acted, the camera work was fantastic.. the cinematography was sensational….everything!”
Marion Collier (‘Olga’ from Sweet Sue’s Society of Syncopators)
“It was funny and it’s a comedy and comedies are the hardest type of writing there is and to make it come off the way Billy Wilder and I.A.L Diamond did was fantastic.”
Joan Nicholas (‘Betty’ from Sweet Sue’s Society of Syncopators, pictured playing the saxophone.)
“When it was all over you know, I was naturally absolutely drained and I knew I had the final shots and I looked at the rushes… it was kind of like an exhaustion. There was a moment of ‘never again’…… well all I can tell you is if Marilyn was around today I would be on my knees begging ‘please let’s do it again.”
It’s hard to believe that “Some Like It Hot” is the grand old age of 60, with frequent screenings on Television, revivals at the Cinema and fans being able to access it through online streaming services as well as the film being updated to Blu Ray quality, this is truly a classic of cinema that will NEVER be forgotten and fans old and new can continue to enjoy this wonderful movie for the next 60 years and beyond.