Saturday, August 4, 2012

Some Like it Hot for Essentials Jr.!

How objectionable is this really?

Or, maybe not. Some Like It Hot is showing up tonight at 8:00 PM as part of the regualar Essentials, the one with the introduction by Robert Osborne and Drew Barrymore. For some time, however, I've wondered what younger people would make of a movie like Some Like It Hot.

Sure, it's got cross-dressing, and there are some uptight people who might have a problem with this. But think about why Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon are dressed up as lady band members. They've seen a crime, and they've got a bunch of gangsters who want to kill them. What better way to escape than to dress up as members of the opposite sex. It's not too different from the way blackface scenes would understandably be considered offensive, but a movie like Silver Streak can get away with it because the scene has Richard Pryor coming up with the blackface idea, and it's used to help Gene Wilder effect an escape.

Yes, there's also a lot of sexual innuendo, or at least love innuendo. I would think, however, that the fact that Tony Curtis' character falls in love with Marilyn Monroe's character is explained easily enough, when you consider that Curtis is a man and Monroe a woman. Of course men and women fall in love. As for Joe E. Brown's character falling in love with the in-disguise Jack Lemmon, that's fairly easily explained by the fact that Brown has no idea the "woman" he's dancing with is in fact a man. And Lemmon and Curtis both have qualms over how to deal with their lies and how it's going to hurt the people who have fallen in love with them. Or, at least, the disguised characters they've been passing themselves off as: Lemmon's woman and Curtis' millionaire. As I think about it, this part of the plot of Some Like it Hot sounds complicated, but thanks to the excellent writing and the broad humor, it's really quite understandable. If there's really any sexual innuendo, it might just go over the heads of younger viewers. I know I watched James Bond movies when I was a kid, and I'm sure a good portion of the sexual innuendo completely escaped me back then.

Third might be the violence. But is Some Like it Hot any more violent than a lot of the movies of today? And to be fair, there are a lot of movies that I don't think anybody would have a problem considering suitable for children which have a fair amount of violence. Some of the serials that TCM has been running on Saturdays have comic-book characters shooting their way out of situations, and a lot of westerns have sharply-drawn good and bad guys with climactic shootouts. And never mind the violent cartoons. If there are any uptight parents out there, let's just drop a cartoon anvil on their heads. (And speaking of cartoons, I distinctly recall Bugs Bunny cross-dressing both in some Yosemite Sam cartoons, and some of the classic Elmer Fudd cartoons. Most notably would be Bugs as one of the female Wagnerian opera characters in What's Opera, Doc?)

This might be the objectionable partIf there's really one thing that's objectionable to certain people, I'd guess it might be the last line, once Jack Lemmon reveals to Joe E. Brown that he is, in fact, a man. Brown's line is one of the all-time greats, but it does technically leave open the possibility of something that would have been taboo for 1959 happening. In fact, I think the ending of Some Like It Hot is more open-ended. There are still some gangsters who would have survived the shooting in the hotel, and they are liable to go looking for Lemmon and Curtis after the escape by boat that ends the movie. If that isn't resolved, then it's perfectly fair to assume the relationship between Btown and Lemmon hasn't been resolved either.

So, then, the only question is, would younger people enjoy the humor of Some Like it Hot?

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