The film was based on the German comedy Fanfaren der Liebe (1951), in which two musicians dress in drag to join an all-girls band and end up falling for the lead singer. But aside from the central plot elements, Some Like it Hot does not suffer from a lack of originality. Rather, it takes an already clever premise and injects some of the finest writing ever done.
This time, it’s 1929 Chicago, and saxophonist Joe (Tony Curtis) and bass-player Jerry (Jack Lemmon) are the only two eye-witnesses to the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.
Hunted by the tommy-gun gangsters of mob boss Spats Columbo (George Raft), the duo decides their only hope is to dress in drag as “Josephine” and “Daphne” and join an all-girl band on a train from Chicago to a Florida beach resort.
Hilarity ensues when: (a) both men fall for the band’s voluptuous singer, Sugar Kane Kowalczyk (Marilyn Monroe); (b) Jerry a.k.a. “Daphne” is courted by one of the resort’s elderly playboys, Osgood Fielding III (Joe E. Brown); and (c) Spats and crew show up at the resort for a bloody gangster conference.
Arguably the Marx Brothers’ funniest film, this comedy masterpiece contains several famous scenes, including the hilarious mirror sequence. A wealthy widow offers financial aid to the bankrupt country of Freedonia on condition that Rufus T. Firefly be made leader. But his chaotic, inept regime bumbles into war with neighboring Sylvania.
This 1924 silent classic is not as well known as it should be. Keaton plays a young man who works as a projectionist and janitor in the local movie theater. (He’s also reading a book about how to become a detective.)
Wrongly accused of theft — his romantic rival stole a pocket watch from his girlfriend’s house and pawned it, then framed Keaton so her father sends him away in disgrace — he returns to his job and falls asleep during a screening. He dreams of stepping into the movie and becoming a great detective on the trail of stolen pearls.
Not only do all the other real people in his life turn up in the film, but he performs feats of detection and athletic skill: the film concludes with a thrilling chase in which Keaton rides a motorcycle’s handlebars, not knowing the driver has fallen off, and some split-second stunts. Both the stunts and the special effects were decades ahead of their time.