Raphael Pour-Hashemi has reviewed the Region 2 release of Some Like It Hot (Special Edition).
A classic film gets the re-release treatment from MGM who have bettered every aspect of last year’s bare-bones release. This title is out in November as part of MGM’s Jack Lemmon month.
Set in 1929, in pre-depression, prohibition Chicago, Some Like It Hot tells of two unemployed jazz musicians Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) who whilst struggling to find work accidentally become key witnesses to the St. Valentine’s Day massacre and therefore must go into hiding. Dirt broke and attempting to protect their own lives, the duo foolishly dress as women, and manage to join an all-girl orchestra en route to Miami beach in Florida, and luckily for them all of their expenses are paid for. En route to Florida, they share living arrangements with other members of the group – all female – which is especially pleasurable considering the appearance of lead vocalist, a lovely blonde named Sugar (Marilyn Monroe’s best, most legend-affirming performance). The obvious complications ensue, with Joe falling in love with Sugar and using another fake identity – a Cary Grant-esque playboy yachtsman. Jerry’s feminist charade is also having trouble, with millionaire Osgood Fielding III (Joe E. Brown) determined to woe his female fabrication, not knowing Jerry is really a man! To make matters worse, the mob is on the pair’s tale after finding out their witnessing of the murderous events.
Some Like It Hot is a classic in its own right, but it does have to be argued that much of the charm has been lost over the years. If anything, the film fails mostly on the humour level, but has actually mutated into a historical document far more important than a classic comedy. Firstly, this is the film to own if wanting a demonstration of Marilyn Monroe in her prime, just like That’s The Way It Is is to Elvis and Rebel Without A Cause is to James Dean. Secondly, Some Like It Hot is a classic due to being one of the first films to outwardly and frankly explore the notion of cross-dressing and homosexuality, and the final line uttered in the film is one of the most shocking and funny and yet most daring to ever come out of Hollywood.
The acting is first rate although a Lemmon-Matthau pairing scores more laughs than a Lemmon-Curtis one. Monroe is stunning to watch and the perfect picture quality of the DVD gives an added level of realism. The soundtrack of songs is very famous, with Monroe performing ‘I wanna be loved by you’ very sexily.
Some Like It Hot is a classic Diamond/Wilder comedy if slightly dated and critics tend to agree that there is no argument with that. If you haven’t seen it, then the re-release by MGM is a perfect opportunity to see a pristine version of the film.
Fantastic compared to the same release last year, the new version of Some Like It Hot is, unlike it’s predecessor, anamorphic and presented in the correct theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The picture exhibits some very nice greyscale tones and although a few specs of dirt appear infrequently, the transfer is a very splendid presentation of a film forty two years old.
Presented in a remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, Some Like It Hot is in essence a mono track with regards to most dialogue but possesses use of the other channels when the jazzy soundtrack can be heard. It’s always very welcoming when classic films are remixed, although the original mono soundtrack is noticeable by its absence, particularly as the new remix could have been better with regards to the dialogue treatment, which still sounds hissy at times. Even so, the audio track greatly improves upon last year’s bare bones release.
We are finally seeing signs that MGM are beginning to get their act together, with the studio re-releasing classic films that received a lacklustre treatment a year ago. The previous DVD version of Some Like It Hot was extra-free, and it’s refreshing to note that the new version has at least had some effort bestowed upon it.
‘Nostalgic Look Back’ – Documentary: An interesting thirty one minute interview with Tony Curtis, presented in an informal chat with critic Leonard Maltin held at Hollywood’s legendary Formosa Café. The two chat away at their favourite moments from the film and Curtis doesn’t fail in missing an opportunity to show off his women-like poses employed for Some Like It Hot. The veteran actor has many anecdotes to tell, and had Maltin displayed more interviewing skills and taken more of a hold on proceedings, some of the more grittier details about the production (i.e. regarding Miss Monroe) would have come to light. Even so, the interview is a joy to watch and Curtis certainly delights in revisiting the greatest film of his career.
‘Memories From The Sweet Sues’ Featurette: What could have been an extremely dull featurette is made very enjoyable by the sheer detail that is divulged. The surviving members of the ‘Sweet Sues’ talk amongst each other on camera about their memories of the production and they divulge many details, with clips of the film simultaneously sharing screen time. When celebrated actors recount their memories their busy life often renders the truth inaccurate, however, the cast members of the Sweet Sues obviously value their participation in Some Like It Hot and thus their memories are extremely cherished and detailed. At twelve minutes long, this feature, along with the Tony Curtis interview, truly demonstrates the Special Edition is a must for fans.
Virtual Hall of Memories: A weird idea that somehow works. This twenty minute featurette is a virtual reality tour of the key cast and crew on Some Like It Hot. We glide through a hallway and stop at a portrait of Marilyn Monroe, and are then shown some clips, sound-bites and behind-the-scenes photos etc. We are then taken to a portrait of Tony Curtis and the same happens, and so on. There are also some general behind-the-scenes photos that are shown at the end.
Original Theatrical Trailer: The original theatrical trailer isn’t presented very well in that it is grainy and full of dirt. It’s interesting to watch though, in that it exploits the use of Monroe and that it advertises the soundtrack too, which is unusual for a late fifties non-musical film.
Trailers For Other Billy Wilder Movies: A nice touch to wet the appetites for fans, as trailers for Ashanti, The Fortune Cookie, Kiss Me Stupid, The Apartment and Irma La Douce, presented in various degrees of quality.
Original Press Book Gallery: A nice photo gallery that illustrates all of the press materials that played a part in promoting Some Like It Hot in 1959.
Some Like It Hot was voted THE funniest American film of all time just recently in a poll, and even though that is slightly undervaluing the likes of The Graduate and Airplane! it still is a must own for any collector. Should owners buy the DVD special edition if they already own last year’s bare-bones release? Most definitely, as every aspect from the departments of picture, audio and extras are all improved upon. When a classic such as this is given the special edition treatment it is hard to resist, and Some Like It Hot does not disappoint.
It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…
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