Some Like It Hot

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Details At A Glance

Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer
Year Released 1959
Running Time 116:35 minutes
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (63:48)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Selection, then Menu
Region 2,4 Director Billy Wilder
United Artists
Fox Home Entertainment
Starring Marilyn Monroe
Tony Curtis 
Jack Lemmon
George Raft 
Pat O'Brien
Joe E. Brown
Case Transparent Amaray
RPI $31.95 Music Adolph Deutsch

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 224 Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 224 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 224 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 224 Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 224 Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision ?Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    After a succession of Disney animated features through my player, it is something of a pleasant change of pace to return to an "ordinary" film, only this is no ordinary film. Nominated for six Academy Awards in 1959 - Best Director, Best Actor, Best Screenplay Adaptation, Best Cinematography (Black and White), Best Art Direction (Black and White) and Best Costume Design (Black and White) - this is one of the best films in the legacy of the legendary Marilyn Monroe. Whilst the film only walked away with one Oscar, for Best Costume Design (Black and White), the passage of time has seen the film almost elevated to legendary status. It is an overused cliché for sure, but in this case a very apt one: they don't make films like this any more, and frankly film is the poorer for it. Long before Dustin Hoffman strutted his stuff in Tootsie, both Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis strutted it in Some Like It Hot - and in the process almost upstaged the siren of the screen at that time. I was pleasantly surprised to manage to score this film in the allocation process, for the simple fact that this is a terrific film that still holds plenty of laughs and displays quite clearly not only the talents of Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis, but also proved that Marilyn Monroe was no slouch in the acting stakes, despite the perception held by many that she was nothing more than a bimbo. Having said that, if she was any hotter on film than this, the celluloid would have melted. If you need a definition of voluptuous, just two names and one film - Marilyn Monroe, Some Like It Hot. They sure don't make women like this anymore and the current crop of devotees to anorexia should take a look at this to see what real sexuality is all about.

   Chicago, 1929, Prohibition. The era of the speak-easy, where booze was available and the jazz was hot. Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon), two financially bankrupt musicians, finally have a job in a speak-easy run by Spats Colombo (George Taft), the boss of the southside. The front for the club is a funeral parlour and everything looks rosy until Toothpick Charlie (George E. Stone) blabs to the police and a raid is on. Making a beeline for the exit as soon as possible the guys find themselves without a gig once again. To make matters worse, Joe has a sure thing at the dogs - which of course is no sure thing, and the coats off their backs are gone. Things could not get much bleaker. So when they call into a booking agent and find themselves with a gig in Urbana, things are just a little better - except they need transport. Borrowing the receptionist's car, they head to the garage to collect it only to inadvertently witness the St Valentine's Day massacre of seven rival gang members by Spats. They need to get out of town in a hurry and so become Josephine and Daphne, and join an all-girl band for a three week gig in Florida.

   The only real problem is that the vocalist for the band is Sugar Cane (Marilyn Monroe) and both "gentlemen" take a rather obvious fancy to the blonde bombshell. The train ride down to Florida proves to be a tough time, but the time in Florida proves tougher as Josephine really falls for Sugar (and vice versa when Joe/Josephine takes on the guise of a junior member of the Shell Oil family!), a playboy falls for Daphne and Spats turns up for a convention and still wants them both dead, especially when he discovers them in the same hotel. Lost the drift? Good, just get out and watch the film!

    Whilst I might not quite agree with the description of the film as legendary, it still remains an enjoyable romp even after forty years. The story is pretty well put together, as one would expect for an Oscar nominee for Best Screenplay Adaptation, but it is the performances that bring a story to life, and here you have three very fine ones. The obvious standout here is Jack Lemmon as he carries off the role of a woman far far better than Dustin Hoffman ever did. Mind you, seeing Tony Curtis done up as a woman is certainly an eye opener! I have always believed that Marilyn Monroe was a pretty good comedy actress and this really proves it in my view. Rarely do films these days get three great performances from its three leads, but this one sure did. Superbly directed by Billy Wilder, with some fine cinematography to boot, the whole film is really a treasure from start to finish. This view seems to also be held by the voters at the Internet Movie Database, who currently have the film ranked at number 48 in the Top 250 of all time.

    It may be over forty years old but it still looks good and the film still entertains. This is a great transfer to the digital domain for a classic film and it is heartily welcome in its Region 4 incarnation.

Transfer Quality


    For a film of its age, this is a very good looking transfer. According to PowerDVD and the packaging, the transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the original theatrical aspect ratio of the film. The packaging is however definitely wrong in indicating that this is a 16x9 enhanced transfer - it is not.

    There is little in the way of problems with this transfer and from the outset it provides a nicely sharp and detailed image that is fairly atypical for black and white films we have thus far seen in Region 4. The only lapse from a high degree of sharpness is in the close ups of Marilyn Monroe, which employ the obligatory slightly soft focus common in films of the era. Shadow detail is as good as I could have hoped for in a film of this age, and is unlikely to disappoint anyone. Whilst there are bouts of minor grain throughout the transfer, it never becomes an eye sore and again is better than I was expecting. Even though there is this minor issue with grain, the general transfer is quite clear and there is little in the way of the film that is hidden here. There did not appear to be any significant problem with low level noise here.

    This transfer has some terrific looking grey scales that really make this a beautifully vibrant black and white transfer. It is not often that we see black and white films as good-looking as this and it is a great pity too. More vibrant black and white transfers like this would certainly go some way towards encouraging more people to buy the films and thus increase the likelihood of even more black and white releases. The whole transfer has a very consistent look to it too, with nary a drop off in the standard throughout.

    There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There was just the odd problem with film-to-video artefacts in the transfer, mostly some aliasing during pan shots which did get just a little too noticeable at times. As far as film artefacts go, this is quite a clean transfer and there were very few blemishes that could be called ugly or distracting.

    This is an RSDL formatted DVD with the layer change coming at 63:48, which is at the end of a scene and is reasonably well handled. It is not especially disruptive even though it is a tad obvious.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-to-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    According to the packaging there is just the one soundtrack on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 effort. Now as much as I would have loved to hear such a soundtrack, it is regrettably just the figment of some inept cover blurb writer's imagination. What is actually on the DVD are five Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtracks, in English, German, French, Italian and Spanish. I valiantly decided to stick with my native tongue and listened to the English soundtrack.

    The dialogue and vocals (yes, Marilyn Monroe does sing) come up well in the transfer, and are very easy to understand. There are no problems with audio sync in the transfer.

    The music score comes from the pen of Adolph Deutsch and a suitably supportive effort it is too, although somewhat overshadowed by the songs done by Marilyn Monroe. Even if she did not sing them, I don't want to know - leave me with my fantasy please. She just has to be singing I Wanna Be Loved By You just for me!

    Once you get used to the rather strident nature of the soundtrack, there is no much of an issue here at all with it. It may pay to just turn the volume down a little when you toss this one into the player, just to get a slightly more natural sounding effort straight off. Obviously being a mono soundtrack you can pretty well forget anything in the way of surround channel or bass channel usage - and to be honest you won't miss it at all. Since this is a dialogue-driven film, the strident mono sound suits it well. Indeed, this is a fine example of how a well-engineered mono soundtrack can do a better job than an ordinarily engineered stereo soundtrack. Whilst I could wax lyrical about how stereo really is not a necessary form of sound and how good mono sound can beat it hands down, I shall not use this as the forum as I am sure it would start a chain of emails that I would not be able to keep up with (note no correspondence entered into!). The soundtrack is free from any noticeable distortions and overall is a very listenable effort.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use  


    Well at least there is something, but I really thought that a better package could have been possible. This does not even have the usual MGM booklet that we have been so used to.


Theatrical Trailer

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, this is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. I think you can take it from the trailer that a certain Miss Monroe stars in this film. However, it is riddled with film artefacts as well as having a strident soundtrack that is blessed with some top end distortion. Technically not the best but at least it is something.

R4 vs R1

    Well what do you know - a Region 4 winner on the grounds that this film has not been released in Region 1 and does not yet seem to be on a coming soon list either.


    Some Like It Hot is a terrific film that boasts arguably the finest career performances from Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. Apart from the lack of a substantial extras package, there is little reason to avoid this DVD. Lovers of great films of the 1950s should ensure this is included in their collections immediately, whilst it remains a worthy inclusion in any DVD collection.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
11th December 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL