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What a drag: Amazing behind the scenes photos from the set of ‘Some Like It Hot’

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Chicago: It’s 1929 and you’re a down on your luck sax player called Joe, when you and your buddy—a bass player named Jerry—witness a mob slaying—the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, no less. This is waaaaay bad juju—made worse when one of the gangsters—bossman “Spats” Colombo—eyeballs you. Spats don’t want no witnesses. So you and Jack are now dead men walking. You hightail it with hot lead snapping at your heels. No money. No jobs. And some mobster wants you dead. What are you gonna do? Take a Greyhound west? Mail yourself east? Join a monastery? Nope. You only got one option, kid—get dragged-up and take a job with the all female jazz band Sweet Sue and her Society Syncopators on a train ride to Florida. Seems kinda logical.

This is what happens to Tony Curtis (Joe) and Jack Lemmon (Jerry) in Billy Wilder’s hit 1959 comedy Some Like It Hot. When the pair manage to disguise themselves as women they hook-up with Sugar (Marilyn Monroe), whose life has always been the “fuzzy end of the lollipop.”

Loosely adapted from a script by Robert Thoeren called Fanfares of Love—first made in France in 1935 and then remade in Germany in 1951—Some Like It Hot has been voted the best ever comedy film more times than Marilyn flubbed her lines during filming—a mere 47 takes for her to get “It’s me, Sugar” right.

The film is a classic because of the quality of the performances from its three leads, the razor sharp script by I. A. L. Diamond, and the supreme quality of direction from Billy Wilder.

Interestingly, Marilyn Monroe had a clause in her contract that stipulated she would only appear in color movies. This was intention until the make-up used to disguise Joe and Jerry as women gave their skin a hideous green cast. Black and white then became the only option. Curtis and Lemmon tested out their new feminine look by wandering around the studio and then entering a ladies’ room to put on make-up. No one (apparently) guessed they were men.

Seeing full color photographs from behind the scenes of Some Like It Hot gives the movie an added depth—an intimate sense of what was happening during so many of the film’s most memorable scenes. This is why these kind of photographs appeal so much—they give a separate yet concurrent narrative to a favorite movie. These beauties capture Curtis, Lemmon and Monroe at posed yet unguarded moments in their working time together—when Monroe was drug-addled, emotionally vulnerable and having an on-off affair with Curtis—by which, he later claimed, she became pregnant.
 
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More on location photos from ‘Some Like It Hot’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Holmes as Hamlet: Billy Wilder’s ‘The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes’

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Billy Wilder spent seven years with his co-writer I. A. L. Diamond working on the script of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. The finished film originally lasted over 3 hours, but the studios panicked over the failure of such long form films (Doctor Doolittle with Rex Harrison, and Star! with Julie Andrews and Michael Craig) and demanded cuts. The film was hacked down to an acceptable 93 minutes. Diamond didn’t speak to Wilder for almost a year

It was a terrible act of vandalism that robbed cinema of one of its greater Holmes, as portrayed by Robert Stephens. It was also bizarre that Wilder, who believed in the primacy of the word, allowed his script to be so drastically altered, turning what was an original meditation on Holmes into a mildly distracting caper. In the process we lost Wilder and Diamond’s analysis of Holmes not as just a fictional creation, but in comparison to Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

The clues are all there to be found. Let’s start with the casting, Stephens, who was one of the most gifted and brilliant actors of his generation - who sadly only graced the screen in a handful of films: scene-stealing in A Taste of Honey, adding flesh to the boney The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,  and as the BFI states, “sublime” in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. Stephens was stage actor, the heir apparent to Laurence Olivier, indeed a far better actor than Olivier, who depended for success by flirting with the audience - Olivier could never be bad as he needed, demanded, the love of his audience.

When Wilder cast Stephens, the actor asked the great director:

‘“How do you want me to play it for the movie,” I asked Billy. “You must play it like Hamlet. And you must not put on one pound of weight. I want you to look like a pencil.” So, that’s the way we did The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.’

 

 
The game’s afoot on ‘The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes’, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Film Buffs To NASA: You Suck!
08.21.2009
02:51 pm

Topics:
Amusing

Tags:
NASA
Billy Wilder
ISS
Shooting People

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Never underestimate the wrath—or letter-writing determination—of a pissed-off film fan.  According to Scientific American, those pot-stirrers at Government Attic made what they thought was an innocent FOIA query: what do the residents on the International Space Station (ISS) do, like, for fun?

Well, they asked, NASA answered.  American booksellers seemed okay with the contents of the ISS library—everything from Dickens to Dan Brown—but the list incensed movie buffs, particularly the ominous-sounding Shooting People, a UK-based collective of independent filmmakers.  “Our members would like to see Harold and Maud [sic] rather than Harold and Kumar, that Man on Wire replace Man on Fire,” Shooting People’s James Mullighan wrote to NASA.  Spelling errors aside there, James, I totally agree with you. 

But, in a further sign that the demand for indie fare has, errr, cratered, NASA’s William Gerstenmaier explained that they don’t dictate the onboard selections?

Posted by Bradley Novicoff | Leave a comment