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Some Like It Hot (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 15, 2011 by  



The greatest comedy of all time comes to Blu-ray!  “Some Like It Hot” on Blu-ray contains the wonderful special features from the 2006 Collector’s Edition DVD release but the picture quality and audio quality on Blu-ray makes this release the definitive version to own.  Highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 1959 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Some Like It Hot

FILM RELEASE DATE: 1959

DURATION: 121 minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (widescreen 1:66:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish Mono, French 5.1 DTS

RATED: NOT RATED

COMPANY: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc./Twentieth Century Fox

RELEASE DATE: May 10, 2011

Directed by Billy Wilder

Screenplay by Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond

Story by Robert Thoeren, Michael Logan

Producer: Billy Wilder

Associate Producer: I.A.L. Diamond, Doane Harrison

Music by Adolph Deutsch

Cinematography by Charles Lang

Edited by Arthur P. Schmidt

Set Decoration by Edward G. Boyle

Starring:

Don Cheadle as Paul Rusesabagina

Sophie Okonedo as Tatiana Rusesabagina

Desmond Dube as Dube

Marilyn Monroe as Sugar Kane Kowalczyk

Tony Curtis as Joe

Jack Lemmon as Jerry

George Raft as Spats Colombo

Pat O’Brien as Det. Mulligan

Joe E. Brown as OSgood Fielding III

Nehemiah PErsoff as Little Bonaparte

Joan Shawlee as Sweet Sue

Bill Gray as Sig Poliakoff

Geroge E. Stone as Toothpick Charlie

Dave Barry as Beinstock

When two musicians witness a mob hit, they flee the state in an all female band disguised as women, but further complications set in.

The greatest comedy of all time.  It’s the distinction that “Some Like It Hot” received in 2000 by the American Film Institute.

The 1959 film directed by Billy Wilder (“Sunset Boulevard”, “The Apartment”, “Double Indemnity”) was an audacious film for its time.  For one, the concept of the film was to have actors Tony Curtis (“Defiant Ones”, “The Great Race”, “Spartacus”) and Jack Lemmon (“The Apartment”, “The Odd Couple”, “Glengarry Glen Ross”), two musicians who were witnesses of the St. Valentine’s massacre and trying to hide from the mafia who are looking for them, so they take the disguise of women and join an all-female band?

Doesn’t sound right when reading it but it was the unique storyline created by writing team Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond that made this film work!  Because in essence, the film was a sexual comedy that was cleverly written during the time of censorship (despite the state of Kansas and other states banning the film or considering it to indecent and thus calling it an adult film).

And to capture that sexiness, what best than to have one of the most popular, sexiest actress in Hollywood, Marilyn Monroe (“The Seven Year Itch”, “Bus Stop”, “How to Marry a Millionaire”).  With star talent comes an all-star supporting cast with George Raft, Joan Shawlee, Joe E. Brown, Pat O’Brien and Nehemiah Persoff.

“Some Like It Hot” was a bonafide hit of its time and a film that has been appreciated over the years.  And here we are 52-years later with a Blu-ray release of this great American comedy.

“Some Like It Hot” is a film that focuses on two musicians, Joe (played by Tony Curtis) and Jerry (played by Jack Lemmon).   While the two were playing in an underground club, where mobsters tend to show up, the police were undercover, trying to find ways to bust mobster Spats Colombo (played by George Raft).  As the police started to charge in to the illegal club, because there was no evidence of crime that would lead to Spats, the police had to let Spats and his group of mobsters go.

Meanwhile, during the fracas, both musicians manage to escape and go to look for employment.  They learn that the only job for musicians are for Sweet Sues music band but the requirement is that you have to be a woman.

With no job, the guys ask their female friend to borrow her car and she tells them its at the auto shop and they can pick it up.

So, the next morning as the guys go to get the car, Spats Colombo and his mobsters show up and tell everyone to line up against the wall (Joe and Jerry are hiding behind some cars, observing Spats Colombo yelling at Toothpick Charlie as being the person responsible of leading the cops to the underground club).  Everyone inside the auto shop is gunned down by Spats Colombo and the mobsters and when the musicians try to explain that they are just there for the car, as Spats and the mobsters are about to kill them (because they witnessed the shootings), Toothpick Charlie tries to make a call and as the mobsters shoot at him, it gives both Joe and Jerry the time to escape.

Knowing that Spats Colombo knows their identity, the two know they are going to be on his hitlist and thus they decide the only way to escape is by taking the disguise of two women and taking the job for the Sweet Sues music band.

As both Joe (now known as “Josephine”) and Jerry (now known as “Daphne”) aboard the train to join the female musicians, they see a beautiful platinum blonde woman also heading to the train.  Her name is “Sugar” Kane Kowalczyk.

At first, Joe wants to keep out trouble and tries to remind Jerry that they must not fraternize with the women but it’s too late.  Jerry/Daphne is like a child at the candy store and for Joe/Josephine, he finds himself attracted to Sugar.

As the band reach their destination of where they will be performing, Joe, who is wanting to get close to Sugar takes on a second disguise, this time as the millionaire Junior, heir to Shell Oil.  While Jerry/Daphne attracts the attention of millionaire Osgood Fielding III (played by Joe E. Brown).  And as both Joe and Jerry are having a great time, what they don’t know is that the hotel they are staying at is having a conference honoring “Friends of Italian Opera” and attending the event is Spats and his mobster friends.

Will Joe and Jerry be able to keep their disguise up?

VIDEO:

“Some Like It Hot” is presented in 1080p High Definition (widescreen 1:66:1).  As a guy who has bought several versions of “Some Like It Hot” on video, it’s great to have this awesome comedy on Blu-ray. While the contrast is good and black levels are nice and deep at times, while the film looked good, I just had this feeling that it could have looked even better.

While I’m sure that this film could have been remastered again (since its new transfer from 2006 for the special 2-disc Collector’s Edition DVD), cleaned up and possibly restored with newer digital technology (and I know it would be expensive), I felt this was one film that would have been worthy of being worked on again as it is a comedy classic (especially since we have seen it done by Twentieth Century Fox with “The Sound of Music”).

But I can say that the film still looks very good considering the film is 52 years old.  Contrast is very well-done for the majority of the film but there are signs of white speckles from time-to-time as well as flickering.

But there is no doubt that with the higher bitrate, that this is the best version PQ-wise of “Some Like It Hot” to date.

AUDIO:

“Some Like It Hot” receives an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless soundtrack and Spanish Mono, French 5.1 DTS soundtracks. While the original mono soundtrack is not included, the lossless 5.1 soundtrack does utilize the surrounds for the gunshots in the film as well as the music from the film.  But for the most part, this is a dialogue-driven film that is crystal clear through the center and front channels.

Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish and French (note: The commentary also has subtitles available).

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Some Like It Hot” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring selected scene commentary by Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon.  Commentary by Paul Daul Diamond (son of A.I. Diamond) and screenwriter Lowell Ganz and Babilou Mandel.  Tony Curtis and Lemoon give detailed information of working on the film, with Wilder and Marilyn Monroe.
  • The Making of Some Like It Hot – (25:45) Presented in standard definition. Featuring archived interviews with Billy Wilder, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon and those close to Wilder, A.I. Diamond, etc.
  • The Legacy of Some Like It Hot – (20:22) Presented in standard definition. Director Curtis Hanson shows us where Billy Wilder worked, how the film was received and how Kansas banned the film and others found it to be indecent but most of all, how the film has thrived over the years.
  • Nostalgic Look Back Documentary – (31:13) Leonard Maltin interviews Tony Curtis about “Some Like It Hot”.
  • Memories from the Sweet Sues Featurette – (12:03) Interviews with four of the female actress who played the Sweet Sues musicians and also how one of them actually was the body double for Marilyn Monroe for the posters of “Some Like It Hot”.
  • Virtual Hall of Memories – (21:04) Remembering the talent of “Some Like It Hot” with video and still photos from the film.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (2:09) The original theatrical trailer for “Some Like It Hot”

“Some Like It Hot” was an audacious film at the time.

How far can one go in making a sexual comedy and for Billy Wilder and I.A. Diamond, it was about being clever when it came to the writing but also with the film’s cinematography.

Afterall, you have a film that takes place during the prohibition era, a film that was shot during the time of heavy censorship and you have a film where men are dressed as women for the majority of the film, scenes between Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe that were so hot, hot, hot!  You can’t help but be in awe of how much got through the censors.  Granted, some states were not as easily accepting of “Some Like It Hot” but part of its lasting legacy was the film’s talent, the fact that you had Marilyn Monroe at her sexiest and you had a film that had everything in place…well-directed, well-cast, well-performed, well-written, etc.

But I know the film was not easy.

It is well-known that Marilyn Monroe was not the easiest person to work with in her final years of her life.  She was depressed, she was often late to work or missed work, she would have major mental blocks in forgetting simple lines…even that for that time, missing a day of production was costly at $20,000 per day and it would try the patience of Billy Wilder (who had worked with Marilyn Monroe before) and also the producers and talents.  It also didn’t make things easier that Marilyn would only work with her acting coach Paula Strasberg, who would decide if Monroe’s performance was good.

But there is no doubt that despite the problems that Marilyn Monroe had on-set, as difficult as it was, Wilder knew that no one was like Marilyn Monroe.  She had a magic quality that captivated men and women onscreen and a style that no actress can match.

When I first watched this film for the first time, I was captivated by Marilyn Monroe’s sexiness, when you listen to the audio commentary on this Blu-ray, even the men could not stop talking about her sexiness.  In fact, one of the most interest facts of the film comes from actor Tony Curtis (during the audio commentary) of how Marilyn Monroe was quite naughty during her scenes to the point where she would do things to get him fully erected and of course, she got the job done.

While “The Seven Year Itch” has an iconic image, “Some Like It Hot” was Marilyn Monroe at her best.

And of course, while many will continually discuss Marilyn Monroe and how sexy she was in this film, you have to give credit to the two wonderful star talents in this film.  Tony Curtis does a wonderful job with his parodistic imitation of Cary Grant as Junior but also his portrayal of the pouty Josephine.  Curtis is a true actor and it is one like a one-two-combination punch when he was with Jack Lemmon.

Lemmon displayed comedy flair and as Daphne, not only does he successfully play the role, he literally becomes Daphne.  As Tony Curtis and others who were working on the film would say, he took the role and ran with it and the way he acted, made us believe that he was starting to think he had become a beautiful woman.  The talented actor had no problems taking on the role and while Curtis had reservations at first, by seeing Lemmon in action, together they were able to make their characters happen.

And of course, you have one of the greatest director’s of all time behind the helm, and together with I.A. Diamond, these two men have created movie magic several times together in their whole oeuvre and “Some Like It Hot” is a film that retains its movie magic 50-years later and will continue to be regarded as one of the greatest comedies of all time.

While this Blu-ray release may not have anything new since its wonderful 2006 Collector’s Edition DVD release, you do get a Blu-ray that features the best looking of the version to date and although purists may be alarmed that the original monaural track is not included, you do get a lossless soundtrack that really brings the film to life.  And of course, everything in that 2006 DVD release is included on this Blu-ray release!

Overall, “Some Like It Hot” is a film that I can watch over and over again, even now when I catch it on television and even though I catch it near the middle or towards the end of the film, I can’t change the channel, it’s a film that I have come to love and it was a film that attracted me to Marilyn Monroe and eventually made me a Billy Wilder fan!

If you are looking for a comedy, this is one film that should be watched and I have no problems saying that it’s also one film that movie buffs should have in their movie collection.  It’s a Billy Wilder masterpiece that is highly recommended!

 






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