I watched Some Like It Hot this evening as celebration for having finished my final semester paper three days before it’s due. I hadn’t seen the film in about a year, last time I watched it with a friend and a bottle of vodka (‘I don’t want you to think I’m a drinker. I can stop any time I want to, only…I don’t want to.’) I love this film, in spite of Jack Lemmon’s irritating imitation of a female – once he takes his wig off, it’s all okay. Plus Tony Curtis is so good looking I could barely take my eyes off him (and his lips!) for the entire running time.
Being the first Marilyn film that I’ve watched in months, I was reminded of how amazing she was. My last encounter with her was at the World’s Most Photographed exhibition in Bendigo, where I was struck again by her beauty and by her unmistakable ability to be a star. In Some Like It Hot, Marilyn does again what she often did best, as Richard Dyer writes (in his book Heavenly Bodies, but also elsewhere, and often), which is combine ‘naturalness and overt sexuality’ in her performance. We know that she is performing her sexuality, but she does it so that it seems a part of her- in fact, it is a part of her, at least as much that we know of her as what she performs. And by so often insisting (in the film) that it was men who always saw her this way, without her making much effort, she implies that in fact she doesn’t need to put on a sexual performance, that it is a natural part of her.
Which goes to show how incredibly smart she was. She recognised the structures of being attractive, the structures of star appeal, and she took control of them…and us.