Cinema: The New Pictures, Mar. 23, 1959

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Some Like It Hot (Mirisch; United Artists), Marilyn Monroe's first picture in nearly two years, is a double-barreled period piece: it not only parodies the freewheeling, gangster-ridden '20s, but it recalls the pie-throwing farce of cinema's infant days.

Good old-fashioned pratfall that it is, it was not turned out without heartaches and headaches for Writer-Director-Producer Billy Wilder. It was made last fall, when Actress Monroe, believing herself pregnant, was reportedly more sulkily temperamental than usual, with Playwright-Husband Arthur Miller hovering solicitously on the edge of the set during much of the shooting. What's more, Wilder took the fairly daring risk of turning two of Hollywood's most popular leading men (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) into female impersonators.

Curtis and Lemmon are a couple of musicians in a Chicago speakeasy. When the club is raided and they are suddenly out of a job, they arrive at a garage to borrow a friend's car just in time to witness a painfully accurate re-creation of the St. Valentine's Day massacre of 1929. With Curtis and Lemmon cowering in a corner, Mobster George Raft and his henchmen line seven men against the wall and machine-gun them dead.

To escape sure death as witnesses to the slaughter, Curtis and Lemmon leap into garter belts and padded bras, join an all-female orchestra heading for Florida. The band's singer: Actress Monroe. For the rest of the movie, Curtis and Lemmon are rarely out of their dresses,

Marilyn is rarely in hers. Clad in negligee and open mouth, she crawls into Lemmon's upper berth to thank "her" for a favor, notices with innocent surprise: "You poor thing, you're trembling all over."

In Florida, Lemmon's bewigged and beaded feminine charms catch the eye of a much-married millionaire (Joe E. Brown). Curtis meanwhile finds time to forsake female impersonation long enough to quick-change into yachting cap and blazer, and woo Marilyn with a fairly good impersonation of Cary Grant. At the end, boy wins girl, and old boy is still hotly pursuing his falsied Lemmon.

Lipsticked, mascaraed and tilting at a precarious angle ("How do they walk in these things?"), Actor Lemmon digs out most of the laughs in the script. As for Marilyn, she's been trimmer, slimmer and sexier in earlier pictures.

Lonelyhearts (Dore Schary; United Artists). In the early years of the Depression, a young man named Nathan Weinstein, the manager of a small hotel in Manhattan, suffered a strange and horrible schizo-religious vision. Set down in a slim volume called Miss Lonelyhearts, published in 1933 under the pen name of Nathanael West, his experience was acclaimed as a masterpiece of the peculiar literature of phantasmagoria—a vision of hell on earth, a scream of anguish at the meaninglessness of human suffering.

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