Each week, this column will cover one film on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 greatest American films of all time, covering my general thoughts on the film and whether or not I think it belongs on the list. You can also see my personal ranking here. This week’s film is #22 on the list: Some Like It Hot (1959).
The last of the four Billy Wilder films on the list is a comedy about two musicians (Tony Curtis & Jack Lemmon) who disguise themselves as women and join an all-female band in order to escape dangerous gangsters after witnessing a crime. Though it begins with a car chase which erupts into gunfire, it’s easily the most lighthearted and fun of Wilder’s included films. There’s never a dull moment, though the film does take its time setting the premise up and really only capitalizes on its potential halfway through when the central focus becomes the disguised men’s competing attempts to gain the attention of the band’s singer, Sugar (Marilyn Monroe), and sabotage one another. It’s light on thematic content, though it is clearly critical of the era’s misogyny, mining a lot of the comedy from giving the two a dose of their own medicine, but it’s appropriately laid-back and upbeat entertainment.
Does It Belong on the List?
Four films from Billy Wilder is too many, and this one feels the least essential of the four, so it’s an easy one to kick off.