A Few Facts You May Not Know About Some Like It Hot

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website.

Some Like It Hot, besides being the most famous film made by legendary sex symbol Marilyn Monroe (her signature performance) is a comedy classic in its own right. In 2000, it was voted by the American Film Institute as #1 on its list of the 100 Funniest Movies (interestingly, the #2 choice was Tootsie, making both the #1 and #2 choices cross-dressing films).

Besides the great Marilyn (and Billy Wilder's awesome direction), the brilliant gender-bending performances by Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon make it, without a doubt, one of the most entertaining comedies ever filmed. Let's take a look at a few facts you may not know about a truly hilarious movie: Some Like It Hot.

* The "almost cast" list is almost as great as the final choices. Director Billy Wilder originally wanted Bob Hope and Danny Kaye to play the Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon roles. Frank Sinatra was another early choice the play the Jack Lemmon "Daphne" role. Perhaps the strangest actor to audition for Lemmon's role was a young Anthony Perkins (rejected. He was to star in Alred Hitchcock's Psycho the next year).

* Jerry Lewis was also offered the role of the zany "Daphne." Lewis turned down the role because he "didn't think drag was funny." Lemmon, who earned an Oscar nomination for his performance, sent Lewis chocolates annually in gratitude. According to Jerry, every time he ran into Billy Wilder, Billy greeted him with, "Hello, Schmuck!" Jerry later admitted he regretted his rejection of the role. 

* Actress Mitzi Gaynor was the original choice for the female lead "Sugar Kane" role, but as soon as Wilder found out Marilyn Monroe was available, he offered her the role.

* The film's original working title was Not Tonight, Josephine. * Marilyn wanted the film to be in color (her contract actually stipulated that all her movies be filmed in color), but after looking at Curtis and Lemmon in the color film tests, they were deemed to be too grotesque-looking (they photographed with a green tinge).

* Tony's feminine "Josephine" voice was dubbed in by voice over artist Paul Frees. According to Curtis, it was a combination of Frees and his own voice. The reason? It was because Tony found it impossible to maintain a high-pitched womanly voice for an entire take.

* To test the waters in their female drag outfits, Curtis and Lemmon strutted around Goldwyn Studios lot to see if they could pass as women. But the supreme test was when the two went into the ladies' room on the Goldwyn lot and fixed their makeup in front of the mirror, imitating how typical females would do it. When no women complained or even seemed to notice their presence, they knew they looked convincing.

* Marilyn was actually pregnant during the filming, accounting for her slightly bigger-than-usual appearance. As a result, most of her stills were posed by her stand-ins Evelyn Moriarty and Sandra Warner (who was given an uncredited role in the film as one of the girl band members). Monroe's head was later superimposed on the photos.

* Marilyn, as most movie fans know, was pretty messed up by this point in her career. It reportedly took her 47 takes to correctly deliver her line "It's me, Sugar," in one scene. Exasperated, director Wilder finally had the line written on a blackboard for the actress to read. In another, it took 59 takes to say the line "Where's the bourbon?" A fed-up Wilder had the line written on a slip of paper and placed in the drawer Marilyn was searching through. If you watch the final climactic scene where Tony Curtis has to say goodbye to Marilyn over the phone, it is easy to see Marilyn's eyes going back and forth, back and forth. This is because she is reading her dialogue directly off a blackboard.

* Tony Curtis had to film take after take of his kissing scene with Marilyn, because she kept forgetting or flubbing her lines. The kissing, of course, was not so unpleasant (being every man's fantasy), but before they kissed, poor Tony had to take a bite of a chicken leg. Curtis grew so sick of chicken, he couldn't eat it again for years. Curtis' famous reply when asked by reporters what it was like to kiss Marilyn Monroe: "It was like kissing Hitler."

* According to Billy Wilder (referring to Marilyn Monroe): "We were mid-flight and we had a nut on board. Marilyn's erratic behavior was so upsetting to so many people, she was not invited to the film's wrap party.

* The film's final, classic line "Well, nobody's perfect," delivered by Joe E. Brown after his "girlfriend" Jack Lemmon reveals he is really a man, was actually just a throwaway line. It was used in the original take, but it was going to be changed later when they found a better line. Interestingly, no one will claim credit for the immortal closing line. Billy Wilder claims it was written by the film's writer I.A.I. Diamond, and Diamond claims it was Wilder's line.

* Upon its original release, Some Like It Hot was banned in the state of Kansas. Cross-dressing was considered "too disturbing for Kansas."


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Tony Curtis said in an interview that he couldn't believe anyone would ask him what it was like kissing Marilyn, so he said (jokingly) "it was like kissing Hitler". Great movie. What gets me is these silly actresses want to be seen as sexy and alluring, then when they are only given roles that promote their sexiness they suddenly get upset and say things like "they only want me for my body", well Duh! If you want to be taken seriously as an actress or any other profession, then keep you clothes on. Simple really.
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Great article. I've always found Monroe's performance really let the rest of the film down. It's odd that I always thought she was playing the part as if she were reading the lines having not rehearsed them and having read the article I now understand why.

I enjoyed the film but largely because of Monroe's attrocious performance I can't believe that this was voted funniest movie ever. To be fair even if her performance had been top notch I'd have been surprised if it had received that accolade.
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Great article. I've always thought Monroe's performance in the movie really let the rest of the film down. It's odd that I always thought she was playing the part as if she were reading the lines having not rehearsed them and having read the article I now understand why.

I enjoyed the film but largely because of Monroe's attrocious performance I can't believe that this was voted funniest movie ever. To be fair even if her performance had been top notch I'd have been surprised if it had received that accolade.
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