Thursday, September 30, 2010

RIP Tony Curtis

There are few, if any, movies I've seen more times than Some Like It Hot. Honestly, I feel as if I had the whole thing pretty much by heart by the time I was 10. I wrote at least one paper on it when I was at NYU. It's just the best.

From the Chicago gangland beginning, the reveal of the liquor bottles in the coffin, the raid on the speakeasy, George Raft doing his schtick, the fantastic score, our first view of Jack Lemmon's hapless Daphne and Tony Curtis's prissy Josephine as they sashay down the train platform, our first view of Marilyn's Sugar Kane (neƩ Kowalczyk), the massacre in the garage ("Gooodbye, Charlie"), the madcap party in the Pullman berth, Curtis's hilarious Cary Grant impression ("Nobody talks that way!"), Jack Lemmon and Joe E. Brown's tango with the band blindfolded ("Zowie!"), the Italian American Opera Lovers Association, the slapstick chase through the lobby of the Miami Seminole-Ritz, all of Marilyn's musical numbers, and possibly the greatest last line in comedy movie history.

For my money (let's all have a hearty laugh here), it's one of the world's perfect movies. Billy Wilder was a stone cold genius and this is his best (controversy!). Tony Curtis was great as both Joe and Josephine. His career was checkered, to say the least. But his is the sort off career I like best, he never stopped working and would play in anything. From prestige pictures like The Defiant Ones to the Agatha Christie camp-fest The Mirror Crack'd (Tony Curtis, Elizabeth Taylor and Ann-Margaret) to his hosting of my favorite terrible TV show, Hollywood Babylon. It was based on the Kenneth Anger book and features Curtis intoning portentously about past Show Biz scandals. Then, oh joy, there are bargain basement re-enactments by terrible actors.

Tony Curtis was a tough Jew from New York who grew up in the Bronx and went to high school on the Lower East Side and made it to movie stardom and a 60+ year career. He will be missed.

Below is the only clip from Hollywood Babylon I could find on YouTube. Enjoy!

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