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Review: Some Like It Hot

Hot stuff on and off screen

    Hello, sailor: Curtis (seated) chats on the beach during filming with co-stars Jack Lemmon, in drag, and Marilyn Monroe`
    Hello, sailor: Curtis (seated) chats on the beach during filming with co-stars Jack Lemmon, in drag, and Marilyn Monroe`

    By Tony Curtis with Mark A Vieira
    Virgin Books, £14.99

    You have seen the film, now you can read the book — screen legend Tony Curtis’s account of the making of one of the most famous and loved comedies of all time — Some Like it Hot.

    The film brought together some of the icons of post-war cinema — Curtis himself, Jack Lemmon, director Billy Wilder and, most notably, Marilyn Monroe, whose involvement in any film was almost invariably a drama in itself.

    This was certainly the case in this movie. In a hugely entertaining read, Curtis, with the help of writer Mark A Vieira, tells the story of how the film came together, and also lingers over the sub-plot of Curtis’s romance with Monroe, which had started several years earlier when both were struggling for recognition in Hollywood.

    At that time, New York Jewish boy Bernie Schwartz was desperate to reinvent himself as Tony Curtis, while Monroe awaited her big break. Their relationship was torrid and not long-lasting.

    By the time they appeared on the Some Like it Hot set, both were married, Curtis to actress Janet Leigh and Monroe to playwright Arthur Miller. This did not stop Monroe inviting Curtis to her hotel room, or Curtis from accepting. Fans of the film will certainly enjoy the blow-by-blow account (recalled in uncanny detail) of the making of the comedy in which Lemmon and Curtis dress in drag to escape from the Mob having witnessed a murder.

    But the book is most compelling in its description of the major players. Wilder is portrayed as a hugely talented, restless workaholic, while Monroe comes across as a bundle of contradictions — gifted, exhibitionist, yet unsure of herself and her talent. Lemmon was the ultimate professional.

    As for Curtis, he certainly embraced his stardom but struggled to come to terms with his humble and unstable upbringing.

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