Some Like It Hot on Blu-ray
by Jef Burnham
Now available on Blu-ray from MGM Home Entertainment.
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I’ll come right out and say it. To my mind, Some Like It Hot is the single most tightly written comedy ever. There was a time, some years ago, when I was writing my very first play— a comedy, of course— that I found myself watching Some Like It Hot on an almost weekly basis for inspiration. Sometimes I’d turn it on just to get myself in the right state of mind to write. But on other occasions, I’d break down specific scenes just to see where writer/director Billy Wilder and his collaborator I.A.L. Diamond had placed their jokes. It became an integral part of my writing process, and I have yet to see it losing its value in this respect.
Note, however, that I am not alone in my esteem for this classic comedy. The American Film Institute hailed it as the #1 Funniest American Movie in 2000, as well as the 22nd Greatest American Movie in 2007 (although it had ranked #14 in their 1997 list). Additionally, the film won a place amongst the first 25 films to be inducted into the National Film Registry in 1989. And all this for a film that was condemned by the Roman Catholic Legion of Decency and banned in Kansas upon its initial release.
So what’s this picture all about? In short, sex. Were I to elaborate, however, I’d say it follows two out-of-work musicians (played by Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) who witness the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and subsequently dress in drag to join an all-girl’s jazz band and escape Chicago. Of course, it’s never as easy as that in the movies, and both men (now women) develop affections for one of their band mates, Sugar Kane Kowalczyk, played by none other than Marilyn Monroe. Out of this simple(-ish) setup, Wilder and Diamond pull so much humor that there are frankly too many gags to catch in a single viewing. Thus, revisitations are an absolute must.
Despite the fact that the transfer of the film here is by no means perfect— characterized by only the occasional speck or debris on the print— Some Like It Hot in HD is absolutely stunning. Of course, it isn’t hurt in this respect that Marilyn Monroe is perhaps at her most beautiful in the film. What’s more, with the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, the film’s songs, especially those sung my Marilyn herself, really pop. In short, this is a must-own release for the cinephile.
The only problem I have with the release itself is the same one I had with MGM’s Blu-ray release of The Manchurian Candidate (1962). For these releases there are no main menus. The film simply plays upon insertion of the disc and will loop forever if you let it run. The only way to access the special features is through the pop-up menu which appears over the film itself. Call me old-fashioned, but as a consumer of home media, I like to dictate when the film will begin. Furthermore, even if the movie is paused, I don’t like menus to be laid over the film image. To me, that’s downright disrespectful to the filmmakers.
The special features on this disc can all be found on the 2006 Collector’s Edition DVD release as well, and include audio commentary featuring interviews with Curtis and Lemmon, and commentary by Pauk Diamond (son of I.A.L. Diamond) and screenwriters Lowell Gantz and Babaloo Mandel; “The Making of Some Like It Hot,” featuring, among other things, some wonderful behind-the-scenes color home movies; “The Legacy of Some Like It Hot;” “Nostalgic Look Back” Documentary; “Memories of Sweet Sue,” and interactive Hall of Mirrors; and the original theatrical trailer.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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