Released 1959 (USA)
American, in English
Director - Billy Wilder
Stars - Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe
Set during Prohibition, when down-on-their-luck musicians Joe (Curtis) and Jerry (Lemmon) accidentally witness a mob hit, they flee town by disguising themselves as women in an all-female band. Monroe co-stars as one of their band mates, Sugar.
Look, maybe I’m a stick in the mud but I’ve never found people lying to each other particularly hilarious. First, Joe lies to Sugar by pretending to be a woman and gaining her confidence. Then he uses the information he gets from her to pretend to be a millionaire to woo her (while “negging” her much of the time). It’s gross. Not that the way Jerry leads on Osgood (Joe E. Brown) is much better. And then the way that it’s all, “oh, tee hee, it’s okay because I’m IN LOVE with you!” in the end and everyone runs away together. Just ugh. Such a depressing way to portray human relationships.
Many scenes feel superfluous to me. For example, we first meet Joe and Jerry when they’re playing at a speakeasy but before that scene is a scene of the cops catching some runners and getting the info to bust the speakeasy. Was that scene necessary? Could’ve just opened with the cops busting the speakeasy. Which is to say, this film could use a little more editing.
I’ve never been a big fan of Monroe’s breathy-little-girl voice or ditzy-blonde act.
Although it’s played for laughs, at least the film addresses all the aggressive, unwanted attention women get by merely existing (getting pinched in elevators, men inviting themselves up to their rooms, etc.).
I like that it plays with the ideas of gender and sexuality.
Jack Lemmon is pretty funny, although I could do without his insane laugh.
I’m not a big fan of this film. I know I thought it was funny the first time I saw it, when I was much younger, but when I watched it again a few years ago, a lot of the so-called humor fell flat for me. I felt the same way this time around. The way the Joe and Jerry treat people, especially women, is bad, and it makes their characters unlikable for me. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its moments. There are definitely scenes that made me laugh. And I’m sure that, for its time, it was shocking, scandalous, and progressive, but I don’t think it plays well in this modern world. I’d be totally fine if I never watch it again.
I give it 3 stars.