The Making of Some Like It Hot: My Memories of Marilyn Monroe and the Classic American Movie

“Some Like It Hot” is one of my favorite old movies! I love Jack Lemmon when he is all dressed up as Daphne, and his hearty HA- HA laugh never ceases to make me laugh!  I had already read Tony Curtis’ autobiography, so there was a bit of an overlap, but this book was still very enjoyable.

The cast that we have grown to love in this movie, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and Marilyn Monroe were never supposed to be cast.  Just as in all great movies, someone else had the part and turned it down.  Initially, Curtis was cast as Jerry and Frank Sinatra was cast as Joe.  Wilder didn’t feel right about Sinatra as Joe, and one night while he happened to be eating at the same restaurant as Lemmon, Wilder invited himself over Lemmon’s table and pitched the movie to him! Lemmon accepted without even seeing the script- a leap of faith based solely on Wilder’s reputation.  Once Lemon accepted, Lemmon took the role of Jerry, and Curtis was moved to the straight man role of Joe.

There were discussions about several women playing the role of Sugar, including Ethel Merman.  Wilder wanted, and got, Monroe.  During the first few days of shooting another woman in the film, the character of Sweet Sue, also had blonde hair.  Marilyn went up to Wilder and told him there can only be one blonde in the picture.  Wilder agreed, and the other actress was forced to dye her hair, almost losing all of it!  

I didn’t realize I was such a huge fan of Billy Wilder, but along with Some Like it Hot, I also adore several of his other movies, including Stalag 17, Sunset Boulevard, and Ball of Fire, to name a few.  Curtis explains that when he signed on to the movie, there was not a full script.  Wilder was writing the script during shooting and night with another writer.

This was one of Monroe’s last movies, and she was at a point where she was very insecure.  She had a drama coach on set with her who was constantly at odds with Wilder.  On top of that, Monroe suffered a miscarriage during shooting, which caused her to hospitalized.  She was out of the film for three weeks, many worried she would not be able to return.  At that time, Wilder shot all the scenes without her, and thankfully, she returned.

Curtis tells many stories of how Monroe had real trouble memorizing her lines. He states that he and Lemmon had to be perfect during each take, that way when Monroe got it right they had the shot.  Curtis tells of one scene where Monroe is to come into his hotel room and ask for a drink. She misses the line so many times, that they eventually place a piece of paper with the line written on it inside the drawer she is opening during the scene so she can get the line right.  Of course, right after reading this book, I watched the movie and Monroe is so seamless that it doesn’t seem possible she was having so much trouble.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Billy Wilder, or is a fan of old Hollywood.  Anyone who likes “Some Like It Hot” will really enjoy the information provided in this book.

Tell me what you love about “Some Like It Hot”


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