Classic Scene: Nobody’s Perfect

“Well, nobody’s perfect”

Some Like it Hot (1959)

Directed by Billy Wilder

The Scene: Joe and Jerry (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) may have thought they escaped the wrath of mob boss Spats Columbo (played by gangster movie staple George Raft) by adopting drag personas and hiding out in an all-woman band in Florida. But the gangster and his crew just happen to show up there and naturally hijinks ensue. The two men are constantly changing between themselves and their Josephine and Daphne personas trying to escape. They realize their best chance of escape is Osgood Fielding III (Joe E. Brown), the aging millionaire who has been crushing on “Daphne” the entire film and just happens to have a yacht. Joe grabs Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe) and reveals his feelings for her as they race away. As Osgood drives them out to the yacht on his speedboat, Joe finally confesses everything to Sugar, and despite his deceptions she has fallen for him anyways. Joe (still dressed as Daphne) sits in the front seat with Osgood trying to convince him that they would not work out because of a number of vices he/she engages in. He dismisses each argument with a fuss. With no other choice left, Joe tears off his wig and confesses to being a man the entire time, and to the surprise of everyone the movie closes with Osgood casually remarking “Well, nobody’s perfect”.

The Breakdown: Though it is now considered a comedy masterpiece, Some Like it Hot was a hugely controversial film during it’s time. This was a movie built on the concept of crossdressing, which even for comedic effect was a hugely taboo subject during the 1950’s. As if Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon dressing like women was not bad enough, this final stroke at the end, implying the character of Osgood was perfectly okay with being in a relationship with another man really blew audiences away. According to Monroe’s contract with the studio all of her films had to be shot in color, but she changed her mind for this one when we saw how horrific her costars looked dressed as women, seeing the need to wash out the color palette. While on the topic of Marilyn, after the Seven Year Itch, Wilder had sworn off ever working with the temperamental and emotional icon ever again. But for Some Like it Hot he knew nobody else could have played the role of Sugar.

Best Bit: Veteran performer Joe E. Brown’s incredibly casual delivery of his famed line proved to be a stroke comedy brilliance. There is no hint of a punchline in his delivery it is straightforward and nonchalant hence the brilliance of it.