Movies have been one of the most popular forms of entertainment since time immemorial. This may serve as an explanation for the tremendous growth that Hollywood and other production houses have been seeing in the recent times. Movies are influenced by the occurrences or events taking place at a certain time within a certain society. However, they also change the course of events and influence some changes or modifications of certain features of the society. In fact, there are various ways in which movies influence or are influenced by a certain nation’s cultural concerns. These factors have a bearing on the memorable nature of any movie. Of course, there are variations as to the preferences that people have for certain categories of movies. Nevertheless, there are aspects that are similar across the film industry and determine the popularity of a certain movie in the market. As much as preferences change across the board, two things determine the popularity of a movie. These are sex and mystery. Mystery serves as the retention factor as the viewers try to know what happens in the end. These are the two things that led to the popularity of the movie titled, “Some Like it Hot” (1959), by Billy Wilder. However, Billy Wilder puts in a lot of humor and fun, not to mention the fact that the actors were talented individuals in the industry.
“Some like it hot”, is a comedy that marked itself as one of the lasting treasures of movies. It is a film that mixes meticulous craft and inspiration and revolves around sex while pretending to be about greed and money (Ebert, 3). It incorporates Wilder’s cheerful cynicism thereby ensuring that soppiness does not consume any time. In addition, every character behaves in line with fundamental Darwinian drives. In instances where the characters are struck by sincere emotion, it blinds them to the point or such an extent that they have no idea as to the things that they genuinely want.
“Some Like it Hot” revolves around the lives of two musicians namely Joe and Jerry, who happen to witness (by mere accident), the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre. Unfortunately, the two musicians are sported by one of the criminals who chase after them. This forces them to flee using a train, while the gangsters are in hot pursuit. They are forced to join an all-girl orchestra that is heading to Florida, in which case they have to disguise themselves as ladies. They change their names to Josephine for Joe and Daphne for Jerry. This is where they meet another character named as Sugar Kane (acted by Marilyn Monroe), who they both like. Unfortunately, they cannot drop their disguise as that would make them be kicked out of the group, and even expose them to the gangsters. The plot takes a new twist when Joe (who happens to be the ladies’ man), falls in love with Sugar. He, therefore, disguises himself as a millionaire after discovering that Sugar Kane is always looking for a millionaire. Joe, in this case, goes by the second pseudonym of “Junior”. He says that he is the heir to the Shell Oil and mimics Cary Grant’s voice while pretending to have no interest in Sugar. Nevertheless, he manages to get Sugar to love him as she thinks that he, indeed, is a millionaire. This moment unveils the sincere emotions that blindside them to such an extent that they do not know the things that they honestly want. Sugar thinks that all she wants is money and is, therefore, looking for a millionaire, while “Junior” (Joe), thinks that all she wants is money. They latter on realize that all they want is each other. Daphne, on the other hand, is sported by a real millionaire named Osgood who tries to woo “her”. He proposes to her, thereby bringing confusion as to what “she” should do.
There is even more confusion in the movie when romance involving the two pairs is blossoming in Miami, only for the gangsters, had been chasing Joe and Jerry, to recognize them (Staff, 5). These gangsters, however, are eliminated through a massacre that Joe and Daphne witness, as well. This, therefore, enables Junior to open up to Sugar about his status. Sugar recognizes that Junior and Josephine is, in fact, one and the same person. At this point, Sugar says that she does not care as she still loves him regardless of all that. On the other hand, Osgood proposes to “Daphne” and “she” accepts. Joe, however, convinces Jerry that he cannot get married to Osgood as he is a man. This viewpoint is understandable as homosexuality was extremely abhorred and considered an abomination in the olden days. In essence, Daphne (Jerry) garners the courage to tell Osgood that he cannot marry him. He gives the first reason as the fact that he is not a natural blonde, to which Osgood replies that it does not matter. Daphne says she smokes all the time, but Osgood does not care about that either. Daphne states that she can never bear kids, only for Osgood to reply that they can always adopt some (Levy, 11). The movie, however, has one of the most hilarious and unforgettable lines in the history of films. This is where Daphne removes his wig and tells Osgood “she” is, in fact, a man, to which Osgood replies that nobody is perfect (Levy, 8).
This film falls under the genre of temporary transvestite film. This is a genre of films in which some characters utilize cross-dressing on a temporary basis for the sole aim of necessary disguise. There are varied elements that characterize temporary transvestite films. First, there is the necessity of disguise, as is the case of “Some Like it Hot” where Joe and Jerry have to disguise themselves so that they are not recognized by the mob. In addition, there is the element where a character adopts the opposite sex’s gender-coded costume, as well as the simultaneous believability of the disguise to both the film characters and the film audience. Jerry and Joe have to wear female clothing such as earrings and wigs, which are mostly worn by women. Such genres also incorporate some narrative, behavioral and visual cues to the real sex of the character, not to mention the fact that there are heterosexual desires that are thwarted by the disguise of the character. It is worth noting that both Joe and Jerry are extremely attracted to Sugar Kane. Unfortunately, they have to remain in their disguise as that is their only hope for earning a living, as well as eliminating the immediate threat of being caught by the gangsters. The transvestite characters are sensitized to the pleasures and the plight of the opposite sex (Straayer, 403). Interestingly, there also exist accusations of homosexuality involving one of the disguised characters, as is the case of Jerry who (in his disguise as Daphne), accepts the proposal of Osgood, irrespective of the fact that he is a man. Such movies are also characterized by romantic encounters that may be mistakenly interpreted as heterosexual or homosexual. In the end, the transvestite is unmasked, as is the case for Joe (Josephine) and Jerry (Daphne) and even a heterosexual coupling such as the one between Joe and Sugar Kane.
The film has two different but simultaneous seductions. In the first case, Joe and sugar have an implied and actual heterosexuality. The second case between Daphne and Osgood has implied heterosexuality and actual homosexuality. The homosexuality of Jerry (Daphne), revolves around the fact that he entirely abandons to the seduction, and zealously participates in the relationship despite knowing the homosexuality reality. He complements this by her seductive postures and exuberant movements, not to mention the fact that he excitedly informs Joe that “she” got engaged to Osgood (Straayer, 418).
As much as gender conventions are restored at the end of the movie through the heterosexual affair between Sugar Kane and Joe, the persistent homosexual romance between Jerry (Daphne) and Osgood offers an alternative or unconventional aspect to the conformity. This movie’s parallel structure, (which is introduced through character, its general plot, as well as editing), carries elements of the generic system pertaining to the temporary transvestite film. This allows for equal celebration of variation and repetition (Straayer, 419).
Belton, John. Classical Hollywood Cinema: Narration. American Cinema/American Culture. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012. Print.
Ebert, Roger. Some Like It Hot (1959). Web retrieved 15th September 2012 from http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20000109/REVIEWS08/1090301/1023Levy, Emanuel. Some Like It Hot. 2012. Web Retrieved 14th September 2012 from http://www.emanuellevy.com/review/some-like-it-hot-1/Straayer, Chris. Redressing the Natural, Film Genre Reader II, ed. Barry Keith Grant, Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986. 402-427. Print.
Variety Staff. Some Like It Hot. 2012. Web retrieved 15th September 2012 from http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117795018?refcatid=31