Freeze Frame #159: Some Like It Hot

I watched the film on a plane ride back from the US, and had to spend a considerable amount of time trying not to shake too much with laughter and wake up the passenger sitting next to me. Most of all, I was amazed by Marilyn Monroe’s sheer presence. Watch this scene — it takes a certain ability to do what she does here, right down to that tone of voice.

A couple of weeks later, I watched Gentlemen Prefer Blondes — let’s just say that my reaction was somewhere between active distaste and near-indifference. I remember discussing with a friend once, that there was as much guano to be found in the old movies as in the new ones — we just manage to pick the good ones in hindsight. Except in case of GPB, our hindsight was a little impaired.

While Monroe played versions of roughly the same character in both films (ditzy blond on the lookout for a rich guy), in SLIH, she seemed to project a certain innocence that was incredibly appealing, whereas in GPB, the cynicism and self-awareness was a lot more apparent. She has her moments in the latter, but is never spectacular. And I remember thinking, she was a lot more fun to watch when she didn’t know how good she really was.

And then of course I found out that Some Like It Hot came out in 1959, a full six years after Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. She had been through twenty-five films, thirty-three years and three marriages by then; three years and three films later, she’d be dead of a barbiturate overdose. How on earth did she manage to deliver a performance of such freshness?


3 thoughts on “Freeze Frame #159: Some Like It Hot

  1. I love the movie (and her performance) but it’s especially surprising when you consider the fact that she couldn’t remember her lines, etc. They had to tape “Where’s the bourbon?” on the inside of a drawer because she couldn’t remember it after a dozen plus takes! And yet, the end result is just so fresh and bubbly.

    • I’ve read that story too. Amazing, isn’t it? I wonder how she got through the monologue in that clip above. Did someone hold up cue cards? I mean, it’s not just getting the lines right, it’s also the impeccable timing and delivery. How did she manage it?

  2. S says:

    I’m not up to date on my Marilyn Monroe, but the interesting conversation in the comments makes me want to look up that bourbon anecdote. So it sometimes took a village to squeeze one ounce of sublime performance out of Ms Monroe huh? Hats off to those hard working “villagers” I suppose.

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