Friday, June 30, 2006

Just a Link for Today

EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. - Tonight's entry basically consists of this link to my most recent article for Pulse, a brief look at a deeper level of Billy Wilder's classic 1959 comedy Some Like It Hot. Because it isn't just a funny comedy. It's also a lightly cynical yet delicious funny take-no-prisoners satire of our views of the opposite gender.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

A worthwhile analysis of a film from a different era of filmakeing. Something you would never see in the mainstream press today. Thank you for posting it.

kenjfuj said...

Thanks. Well, I always try to post links to new pieces of mine. I'm glad you read this one and found it enlightening.

odienator said...

But there is an undercurrent of cynicism to the film that was one of Wilder's signatures. It's just that, this time, the cynicism is wrapped up in the guise of a hilarious, fast-paced screwball comedy, as opposed to the open bitterness of, say, "Sunset Boulevard" (1950) or "Ace in the Hole" (1951).

The Film Forum ran Some Like It Hot today, and if I hadn't seen it on the big screen in Ottawa a few years back, I would have gone. (The Forum is doing a Wilder retrospective until mid-July; I saw Double Indemnity there Saturday night.)

Ace in the Hole is certainly caustic and bitter, but I take issue with describing Sunset Blvd. as a more bitter pill of cynicism than Hot. The key to Wilder's best movie is to see it as a dark comedy. It's very funny, in a morbid sense, but it's a lot more hopeful and less cynical than people give it credit.

I've always felt that, though she may be out of her goddamn mind, Blvd. is firmly on Norma Desmond's side. Joe Gillis is quite the unreliable narrator, and Wilder's cavalier manner of dealing with his literal demise is in stark contrast to how he deals with Norma's metaphorical one. Gillis' last bit of narration, about how mercy was bestowed upon Norma, gives Blvd. an ending that's happier than Hot's. Norma has gotten not only her revenge, but the return of "all those wonderful people in the dark," even if they are just in her mind. Ignorance is bliss, and Norma is finally happy.

Both Hot and Blvd. end with characters succumbing to their delusions due to the actions of the greedy men in their lives. What makes Hot's ending more bitterly cynical to me (though it is still quite hilarious) is that Joe E. Brown is completely sane, so the satisfaction of owning Jack Lemmon's character, regardless of his "imperfections," is payback (and punishment?) for Lemmon's deceit. I sense Brown would hunt Lemmon down for the rest of his life if he tried to escape.

Still, a very good article from you about my favorite director's films.

kenjfuj said...

odienator:

I think I see what you mean, but I'll admit, it's been a while since I've seen Sunset Boulevard. So when I made that reference in my article, I suppose I was only thinking about its dark, noir-ish surface rather than thinking in thematic depth. From what I remember of it, it's certainly not exactly complimentary of Hollywood; but perhaps your comments will prompt me to watch it again in the near future and rethink things.

I think I also see what you're saying about the ending of Some Like It Hot. Also consider: Sugar and Jerry don't really know each other all that well by the end of the film, because Sugar was basically seduced by a perfect (for her) surface image projected by Jerry. That's what she fell in love with, not necessarily with Jerry. So Sugar, in a way, is running less after Jerry than after the image Jerry had previous projected. Not necessarily as conclusive and happy as it at first seems.

Thanks for the kind words, though.