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Episode 80: GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES v SOME LIKE IT HOT

  

82 members have voted

  1. 1. Marilyn v Marilyn

    • GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES
      23
    • SOME LIKE IT HOT
      59


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Last week was Marilyn Monroe's birthday and totally by coincidence we pitted two of her more famous films against each other. Which will take it - the Howard Hawks buddy comedy or the Billy Wilder buddy comedy?

 

It's up to you guys!

 

(note: there's a problem with the iTunes feed. It should be fixed shortly. The episode DOES exist!)

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Some Like It Hot for me. I like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and I agree with the historical argument for launching one of the most iconic actresses of all time, but I think Wilder made a much stronger film from start to finish, and I know there will be more Hawks & Wilder down the road, they've earned it, but when looking at The Canon it's Wilder here.

 

I read somewhere that someone said Monroe in this film was the closest she was to playing herself, and it's a shame they both couldn't make it, because it's an interesting idea to watch the Marilyn the public remembers vs. the more honest Marilyn.

 

Also, I'm sure this isn't news to anyone, but check out You Must Remember This' episode on Monroe: http://www.youmustre...-monroe-ymrt-34

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Aside from a few great moments, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was a disappointment to me and squandered its stars. Plus, I was frustrated by Elliott Reed's character to the point of distraction.

Some Like It Hot, on the other hand, is one of my favourite movies of all time. Easy choice for me

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I went with Some Like It Hot.

 

And I'm going to be honest here, I don't really like Marilyn in either. She's okay. And she certainly has a very naturalistic acting style that can endear you to her ditzy characters, but after revisting Some Like it Hot and checking out Gentlemen Prefer Blondes for the first time, she really didn't do much for me on either film. So it came down to the rest of the films. And while I really like Jane Russell in Blondes, that movie just didn't work for me. Musicals from this era can be very hit or miss to me, and this one was a bit of a miss. Whereas Some Like it Hot gets better and better to me each time I see it. It's hilarious. Everything works great in Some Like it Hot. It's an amazing and hilarious movie.

 

Amy argued for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes really well, and I totally understand a lot of her point, but to me personally, this wasn't even a contest. Some Like it Hot will win every time.

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Gentlemen Prefer Blondes for the win!

 

I think it's pure joy. It's bright, consistently hilarious, and navigates the sincere/cynical balance better than Some Like It Hot. It's my chicken soup movie.

 

I liked that Amy brought up the movie's connections to the novel the stage musical was adapted from. The book is written in first-person (as Lorelei's diary entries), and it's a lot more cynical about her than the movie. Amy and Devin both noted how open and generous Lorelei is in the movie, and how she really seems to like her marks and not just for their money, but that's not at all how she comes off in the book. Which makes me wonder—is Lorelei written very differently between the two works, or is it all in Marilyn Monroe's performance? I think it's the latter, which is a testament to Monroe's incredible charisma and smart line readings. The viewer gets as conned as Lorlei's beaus do, and we really want to believe she isn't all greed.

 

The scene with the child aristocrat is funnier if you know the novel too. His name, Henry Spoffard, is taken from Lorelei's main love interest in the novel. If an audience member in 1953 was even passingly familiar with the book, they would have expected that character the moment his name is read from the registry, so the reveal that it's actually just a little kid hits even harder.

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I'll admit that I went into this with a certain bias, as "Some Like It Hot" was one of the greatest movie-going experiences of my life - I saw a scratchy old print of the film in 1984 in a small town in Mexico, in a cinema packed with a completely unsophisticated audience that laughed uproariously from beginning to end. Still, I tried to give "Gentleman Prefer Blondes" its due, and although I found it to be a fine movie, with some great (one might even say "iconic") moments, it didn't really come together as well as "Some Like it Hot". On its own, I might have voted yes, but against the Wilder film, no chance.

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"Some Like it Hot" may not be the funniest movie of all time (which it has been called), but I can see how it could be in the running. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes seems more dated despite being on color film.

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I voted for GENTLEMEN because it's the one where Monroe has agency. I also signed up just so I could vote on this one. GENTLEMEN is the more progressive and layered movie.

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I am really on the fence with this one. I'd never seen Gentlemen Prefer Blondes before, and I was prepared for Some Like it Hot to run away with the win for me, but I was totally blown away when I watched it. I think I have to look at this as a Marilyn head-to-head and go with Gentlemen because, while I love Some Like it Hot, I've never really considered it her movie. The historical impact of launching one of the biggest stars of all time gives Gentlemen the (very) slight edge, but I hope Some Like it Hot comes back for reconsideration if it doesn't make it this time around.

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I had never seen "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" before last weekend and it had been years since I had seen "Some Like It Hot", so thank you so much for having us revisit both. "Gentlemen" definitely felt like a stage musical on film with the BIG characters and behavior which was fun. Yet I found myself taken with the charming little moments from "Some Like it Hot" (Sugar's second introduction with the garter flask, Jack Lemon post proposal, etc.). Of course I saw the punchline of the film from a mile away, and yet the anticipation of it made it even more exciting and I truly laughed with joy at the delivery of "nobody's perfect" which is what pushes that choice over the top for me. "Some Like it Hot" for my vote.

 

Possible future versus: Hawks' "Scarface" vs. DePalma's "Scarface" [personally, I'd go with the Hawks version, but my college roommate, with Oakland Raiders posters on his wall, would 100% go for DePalma's]

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This is a hard decision, but I ultimately came down on Some Like it Hot. I know some segments of the hard left are into demonizing drag these days, but I find that's usually from a younger set who have enjoyed better public attitudes toward queer issues. Going to drag shows was a liberating experience for me in my late teenage years, and drag owes a lot to both of these films. I love Some Like it Hot's legitimization of gender-bending, but I also recognize that the musical numbers in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes are still a source of inspiration for fun routines. I wish I could vote for both of these, but I think Devin's right in that Gentlemen Prefer Blondes' plot gets a little muddled toward the end. When we have our second chance voting this year, I will pull for Blondes. It deserves a place in the canon, because nobody's perfect.

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I mentioned how much I did not enjoy Gentlemen Prefer Blondes on the homework thread- but I did not mention that I supremely enjoyed Some Like it Hot.

It's just a real fun time- comedy beats work- the trans stuff still feels fresh and possibly respectful by todays standards (I assume- i'm just a white straight male)

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Some like it hot is one of my favorite films. Not for any specific reason other than it has the ability to lift my mood, and make me smile and laugh no matter where or when i see it. That, to me, is what a good film is. I think gentlemen prefer blondes is a fun film and a triumph for Marilyn, but it lacks the heart and soul that i feel some like it hot has

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I made an account for this episode, and I saw both of them first time now.

 

I loved both (and one happened to be my first Howard Hawks film). Blondes may have the argument of Monroe being pushed into the limelight, but at the same time... Some Like It Hot is just hilarious, and also incredibly sweet.

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Went with Some Like It Hot, I love it for its comedic moments, for its complexity in the plot, and for the performances of the actors.

 

I think is fair to say that this film has as much history as Gentlemen since the actors already had cemented careers and this film acts as a time capsule. I also think there is a huge amount of praise to be given to a film that doesn't need to apologize for being "from a different time." I didn't really appreciate how ahead of its time Some Like It Hot was until listening to this episode. Thanks guys!

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Gentleman Prefer Blondes is a lot of fun. If it was nominated in a solo episode, I would probably vote yes.

 

But, Some like it Hot has to be in the canon. I mean, it gets in for the last line alone.

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I voted Some Like It Hot, which to me is better and has more classic lines that are iconic. Gentleman has great scenes, and the Marilyn song, and if it's about the better/more canon-worthy Marilyn performance, it'd be Gentleman. But whole film, it's Some Like It Hot.

 

I did want to push back against the idea that the movie is progressive, at least along the trans front. Basically all the jokes are really reliant on the hilarity of someone being assigned male and how terrible/emasculating it is to a man to wear a dress. It makes all these jokes that really rely on that grossness the audience sees in them, especially at the expense of the Osgood and other men being "tricked" into being gay. I don't hold it against the film, it's of the era, but being a trans woman, I can't pretend that these aren't harmful images and stereotypes that are part of why the wider culture thinks of trans women as men invading women's spaces (not nearly as bad as later films, like Sorority Boys). It's also always framed as a joke at Jack Lemmon's expense that he isn't disgusted with being a woman. Within the context of the time, I think it is progressive against the wider culture's background, but along the trans front it's definitely not so. Things like the final line, "Nobody's perfect", cut against the cultural norms, but it still comes in the context of a ripping the wig off reveal "really a man!" trope that is definitely transphobic.

 

But, for all that, I still love the film. And I certainly don't want the standards of today to define the expectations of yesterday. We can critically examine, determine that some stuff is beyond the pale, but still recognize the cultural context of the day.

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I went into this re-watch really hoping to vote for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. It's more of a Marilyn movie than Some Like It Hot, and for whatever reason, I had come away from my previous viewing of Some Like It Hot with the impression that maybe it was a tad overrated. But in retrospect, the previous viewing was in the context of being on a Billy Wilder kick. So I was coming to the movie in the context of all his other brilliant work, and it didn't seem like quite the accomplishment.

 

However, this time around, it's sort of undeniable how great the movie is. It's funny and well acted and hits all the notes it's going for. And while I don't go as far as Devin did projecting a greater emotional pull to the last line, it's a pretty perfect button to end the movie on.

 

As for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, I enjoyed it a lot, but it falls into that White Christmas category of being a movie with great Canon worthy sequences that also has a plot you kind of have to actively ignore to enjoy the movie. This was my first viewing of the movie though, so maybe it gets better with age. But in this particular context of viewing, where I'm comparing it directly with Some Like It Hot, it's damn near impossible for me to recommend it over its competitor.

 

Sorry Amy...going with Devin on this one.

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I voted Some Like It Hot, which to me is better and has more classic lines that are iconic. Gentleman has great scenes, and the Marilyn song, and if it's about the better/more canon-worthy Marilyn performance, it'd be Gentleman. But whole film, it's Some Like It Hot.

 

I did want to push back against the idea that the movie is progressive, at least along the trans front. Basically all the jokes are really reliant on the hilarity of someone being assigned male and how terrible/emasculating it is to a man to wear a dress. It makes all these jokes that really rely on that grossness the audience sees in them, especially at the expense of the Osgood and other men being "tricked" into being gay. I don't hold it against the film, it's of the era, but being a trans woman, I can't pretend that these aren't harmful images and stereotypes that are part of why the wider culture thinks of trans women as men invading women's spaces (not nearly as bad as later films, like Sorority Boys). It's also always framed as a joke at Jack Lemmon's expense that he isn't disgusted with being a woman. Within the context of the time, I think it is progressive against the wider culture's background, but along the trans front it's definitely not so. Things like the final line, "Nobody's perfect", cut against the cultural norms, but it still comes in the context of a ripping the wig off reveal "really a man!" trope that is definitely transphobic.

 

But, for all that, I still love the film. And I certainly don't want the standards of today to define the expectations of yesterday. We can critically examine, determine that some stuff is beyond the pale, but still recognize the cultural context of the day.

Yeah- I do agree with everything you've mentioned- but I think considering the cultural restrictions of the time- it's amazing they did all this with the tone of positivity. I dunno- I feel like even if the intentions were bad at the time- I can view this now and read more positive things into it.

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I voted for Some Like It Hot. My main argument is about the stakes: In SLIH the two main characters are fleeing the mafia, because they witnessed a massacre. They have a clear motivation, and we get a sense of urgency throughout the picture. This makes the comedy and the one-liners all the more effective. In GPB the two main characters... uh. have problems finding the right guy to get married? Are disappointed, because the Olympic team doesn't want to engage enough with them? Even when they end up supposedly broke in stock-footage Paris, they straight away get hired as the headline of a show with a billion chorus players! You know, if you are in dire straits, maybe getting rid of a couple of these human chandeliers could solve your money problems? I know, I supposed to suspense my disbelieve, and I definitely see where Amy's coming from, and yes, I did enjoy some of the dialoge and the performances, but I really never was more than mildly amused during most of the film. Maybe it will grow on me, and we'll see about the next rebound episode if GPB can get another chance, but right now I am on team Devin.

 

Edit: As for the LGBT subject in Some Like It Hot: I don't think it takes necessarily a point for or against it. I think the film is about two characters forced to step outside of their comfort zone. Now, that's naturally a plot that can be attributed to a lot of romps. In my opinion, what elevates this one, is that these characters aren't stupid, as they would be in, for example, I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry, and actually make a number of pretty smart decisions, while keeping an open mind about their situation. As Jazz musicians, they kind of improvise their way through life. They get to know a new side of themselves, and you watch them deal with that. I didn't feel that the script or the directorial choices judge any of their sensibilities - the two protagonists do judge each other constantly, though. And that's kind of discussions we still are facing today... To me, that they manage to keep up their friendship throughout all this, is kind of a touching thing and the main point I take away from this.

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I voted for Some Like it Hot, because I can see it's influence on future films. The Farrelly brothers definitely borrowed from this movie. Both Dumb and Dumber and There's Something About Mary show this.

 

Side note. Why would Devin block me on Twitter?

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Yeah- I do agree with everything you've mentioned- but I think considering the cultural restrictions of the time- it's amazing they did all this with the tone of positivity. I dunno- I feel like even if the intentions were bad at the time- I can view this now and read more positive things into it.

Yeah. I think the trans reading is something so far off the radar at the time that I don't assign it intent. Like, the low level homophobia inherent in "haha this guy likes a guy" is clearly intentful, but it also pales to me in comparison with kinda the wider cultural norms it's pushing against. And I don't see it as like an actively hateful thing, like the Osgood stuff makes it seem like gays are kinda silly, not actively harmful to the society. Which for the time is really good! And ultimately I see this farce in a far different nature than I would something like the later 80s/90s/00s crossdressing comedies, which to me more readily are aiming at that stuff.

Like, I'd still say this is a net negative as far as trans stuff goes, but I don't think it's like pushing forward any bad ideas that aren't already floating out there in the world at the time. And, in context, is probably kinder than most even if not good. I was more pushing back at the idea that it is any sort of positive trans portrayal, or that the degree to which Jack Lemmon's character is to be read as like a proto trans lady it is a good thing, the movie is clearly on the side of "haha it's ridiculous he likes this stuff and takes it seriously" i.e. the scene in the bedroom after her gets proposed to.

Regardless, it's still a wonderful film and amazing. And even progressive in certain ways w/r/t sexism. I just have this qualm with the film and the idea of claiming this is positive representation for trans women. I still think it's 100% canon material. I mean, fuck, I think Psycho and Silence of the Lambs are no doubt canon films, and they are a million times worse when it comes to the portrayal of trans women (and yes, the films are portraying tropes that are read by audiences as trans women. They get weaponized against us commonly, so clearly the mass audiences read them as trans women, even if that wasn't the specific intent or stated as not the case like in Silence of the Lambs).

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They were both favorite movies of my mother's so I've seen them both many times. When Gentlemen is on TV, I tend to end of watching it even though I don't love the movie anymore. But I love the whole cast. And the songs are pretty good and not too long.

 

Some Like It Hot is one of the best movies ever. And I'm the BIGGEST Jack Lemmon fan. I love the movie despite Marilyn -- I find it painful to watch the scenes she's in because she looks too impaired/vulnerable, though I know I'm bringing too much baggage to it. And man, I love that hotel. :)

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This was a toughie for me. I initially figured Some Like It Hot was the obvious choice, and that largely came down to the fact that it's very high on my list of favorite, Canon-worthy Billy Wilder films (just behind The Apartment for me), whereas Gentlemen is quite a ways down on my personal Howard Hawks list.

 

But even though I'm sure Some Like It Hot is going to take it (and deservedly so-- there's clearly no wrong answer here), after listening to a GREAT episode full of excellent arguments, I have to throw my support behind Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

 

As has often been noted by the hosts, The Canon is incredibly dude-heavy, and I really appreciate the discussion and focus on a film that is so incredibly dedicated to a female wish-fulfillment premise, which 60+ years later is STILL startlingly rare. As Amy and Devin discussed, the adoration and non-judgment of these characters is essentially unprecedented, and I love it for that reason.

 

But boy, Some Like It Hot is great too. I absolutely love these versus episodes.

 

As a side note, the brief discussion about Howard Hawks in relation to auteur theory was great; I was reminded of a review one of my favorite critics, Tim Brayton, wrote about Hawks overlooked 1939 gem Only Angels Have Wings (Another terrific contender for the Canon). It's a shame Hawks is often overlooked as an auteur because of how his filmography stretches across such a broad spectrum of genres-- he truly is one of the greats.

 

Here's an excerpt from Brayton's review for those that are interested:

 

It can be fairly said that Howard Hawks's ripped-from-real-life adventure story Only Angels Have Wings is one of the most influential films in history, although I haven't personally encountered that argument before.

 

Here's what the logic looks like: it was the first Hawks film to really make a splash in France - not the first Hawks film to find release in France, of course, but the first one that was a smash hit. A while later, in the middle '50s through the early '60s, the gang at Cahiers du cinéma developed a new theory (or it might be better to say, they codified the rules of a theory that had been fluttering about amorphously since at least the 1920s), based primarily on the work of Hawks and Alfred Hitchcock, that the director of a film was the individual most responsible for that film's meaning and overall quality, that it was possible to analyse a director's films largely in terms of how it fit in with his (or rarely, her) pet themes and characteristic style, and that it was therefore best to group films primarily by director. This was the famous and infamous Auteur Theory, and it remains the dominant force in film theory today, although I'm not certain that many of its most enthusiastic practitioners - fanboys - are conscious of it. But it's Auteurism, through and through, and nobody honest could say that they're free of it; we all know or are people who would see every single film that Quentin Tarantino directed, or Wes Anderson, Chris Nolan, David Gordon Green, Tsai Ming-Liang, Werner Herzog, David Fincher, Steven Spielberg - but can you think of a single person who would go see a movie just because Roger Deakins or Robert Richardson shot it? Hell, some of my best friends are cinematographers, and I don't think even they would go see a movie just because Roger Deakins shot it.

 

So my point: a debased version of Auteur Theory is the dominant mode of Thinking About Cinema right now, there would be no Auteur Theory without a French love of Howard Hawks, and there'd be no French love of Hawks without Only Angels Have Wings. I'm not saying that OAHW"caused" Auteur Theory - there are other directors than Hawks who could have inspired the Cahiers crew to the same conclusions - but in our particular universe, it's certainly a major link in the chain, and as good a place as any to settle down to sing Hawks's praises - and by any definition of the term "director", whether Auteur Theory is true in its most far-reaching and ambitious form, or the director a film is simply a soulless professional whose job it is to make sure everything fits into place correctly, Howard Hawks is without doubt one of the finest directors in the annals of Hollywood.

 

Full review can be found here

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I went into this week thinking that Some Like It Hot was going to be a slam dunk™.

 

But I'd never seen Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and it really gave Some Like It Hot a run for its money. What a great film.

 

However, I have to agree with the general consensus that Some Like It Hot really is one of the greatest comedies of all time. It's a damn near perfect film.

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