Classic Hollywood: SOME DON’T LIKE “SOME LIKE IT HOT”
…and by “some,” I mean “me.”
I know, I know.
I should be crazy about any film that tops most critics’ lists of classic comedies. Trust me, I’ve tried. What’s not to like about Marilyn Monroe at the height of her fame? Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in drag? The best closing line since “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”?
Having watched Some Like It Hot countless times, I’ve succeeded only in proving that insanity really is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different result. Because here’s the deal. You know how some people love cilantro, and others say it tastes like soap? Some Like It Hot is my movie cilantro – and it joins my other heretical screen opinions:
Many have called Citizen Kane (insert trumpet flourish) the Greatest Film Ever Made. Yes, it’s impressive that Orson Welles was just 25 years old when he shot it. I admire the guts it took to tackle the thinly veiled life of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, who tried to snuff out the picture. Every element of the production is first rate, from the cinematography to the music to the cast. Yet Kane leaves me cold. In the end, I really don’t care about a ruthless, power-hungry publisher or (spoiler alert) his beloved sled.
Alfred Hitchcock is known as the Master of Suspense, but I find his movies formulaic. I’m with Billy Wilder, who said the thrillmeister made “one Hitchcock picture after another.” I’m more apt to chew my nails watching a jittery little film noir. My heart pounds when Burt Lancaster’s assassins close in on him in The Killers. My pulse spikes as Van Heflin tries to outrun his Nazi-colluding past in Act of Violence. I assume the fetal position when Sterling Hayden’s jewel heist unravels with fatal consequences in The Asphalt Jungle. Same with trippy low-budget flicks like Gun Crazy and Detour. But The Birds and Psycho? Shocking? Sure. Suspenseful? Eh.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s may be worshipped by Audrey Hepburn stans, but I would rather be packed inside an unconditioned subway car in August than watch it. Why’s that? Lettuce has more charisma than George Peppard. I find Holly Golightly’s quirkiness more annoying than charming. Even Mickey Rooney later admitted he shouldn’t have played the cringe-worthy role of Audrey’s buck-toothed Japanese neighbor, Mr. Yunioshi.
Got opinions that place you squarely outside the movie mainstream? I propose we christen this condition, “The English Patient Syndrome,” in honor of the Seinfeld episode in which Elaine despised the epic drama that somehow won nine Oscars.
Because for the record, I hated that picture, too!
Classic Hollywood posts appear bi-monthly on The Music Hall blog.