Archive for Some Like it Hot

The Moves

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on September 20, 2017 by dcairns

Fiona was feeling low, so we put on SOME LIKE IT HOT, and by the end, she was feeling pretty good.

I’m glad I haven’t been asked to write professionally about this one, as it strikes me as hard to say anything that’s both new and useful about this particular masterpiece of comedy. It doesn’t seem to be exhaustible as a viewing experience though — if you watch it with a friend, each of you will probably only remember half the funny lines, so there will still be a lot of laughter. And, as with a good Preston Sturges, if you’ve “used up” the best jokes by overexposure to them, you’ll start to find even the spaces in between funny.

This time Fiona was particularly enjoying the character’s movements, which I can only suggest in still images.


I gained a fresh appreciation of Pat O’Brien’s contribution. Fiona tells me George Raft LOVED sending himself up. But why couldn’t they get Edward G. Robinson? They even cast his “Hollywood bad boy” son, Junior. You’d think that would have helped…


The Sunday Intertitle: A Female Alarm Clock

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , on August 20, 2017 by dcairns

Just as the hero of FAZIL (Charles Farrell) prefers camels to women, the hero of PAID TO LOVE, another silent Hawks, prefers automobiles.

The film deals with a cash-strapped Mediterranean Ruritania and an arranged marriage intended to solve its cash problems and also features some good TINY INTERTITLES, for a hushed conversation between an American banker and the King: “Your shirt’s out.” “I know it.” “Then why the hell don’t you fix it?” “How the hell can I?” The minute lettering is very funny, and I felt I could hear Hawks’ tone of voice in this.

We also get William Powell, very funny as a skirt-chasing duke. Here’s his POV as he applies the monocle to a passing maid ~

Though Bill is in fact standing, stationary, watching her go, his viewpoint is gliding along the checkerboard floor at ankle height — evidently he has astrally projected like DR. STRANGE. The same thing happens in SOME LIKE IT HOT: Jack Lemmon’s awe-struck view of Marilyn Monroe’s ass is tracking after her at ass-height even after he stops walking at Jack Lemmon height. POVs can be psychological rather than optical, especially when there’s something worth seeing.

Here’s an intertitle that seems to anticipate LAND OF THE PHARAOHS ~

This is a Fox film — the study of smoky atmosphere and crumbling walls. Our first view of Paris is a crumbling wall with girls walking by in front of it. This is meant to represent Montmartre. It seems to get the job done.

Lots of fun in this film! It’s the kind of movie where a Montmartre apache hides his knitting when the tourists appear.

The Screwball Week Impossible Film Quiz: Ladies for a Day

Posted in FILM with tags , on May 3, 2017 by dcairns

Who were those ladies I saw without you last night? Or better yet, who are these man/woman crossover experiments, and in what films do they occur? An easier-than-usual Shadowplay Impossible Film Quiz. This next ones aren’t strictly drag, but is reasonably tricky.

Looked at all together, these images certainly suggest an obsession in the collective screwball unconscious. Come the forties, gender-bending is largely out, and the reinforcing of traditional societal norms, scarcely the most fecund comic terrain, is in. Forties comedies become depressingly centered on forcing the little woman back in the kitchen, while you get norms challenged in the film noir genre, but as a source of anxiety. But at least the femme fatale isn’t heading for that kitchen except at gunpoint.

The drag acts in screwball are, as in the later SOME LIKE IT HOT, generally performed under pressure of circumstance. But they aren’t just mean exercises in humiliation or emasculation. The screwball itself has something in its DNA to do with how liberating it can be to drop your dignity and your pants and make a fool of yourself. Feminine dignity is associated with being ladylike, so that has to get messed with, and male dignity has to do with machismo and competence and wearing the pants.