AFI Prescribes a Dose of Sugar

Marilyn and Tony Curtis, Some Like It Hot

Having topped their ‘100 Years … 100 Laughs’ poll in 2000, Some Like It Hot is recommended by the American Film Institute movie club today, with a video introduction by actress Helen Mirren and filmmaker husband Taylor Hackford, plus interviews with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. Plus, some questions for further debate:

-What do you think the phrase ‘some like it hot’ means?

-What are some of your other favorite performances from SOME LIKE IT HOT stars Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe?

-What is your favorite film from director Billy Wilder?

-Why do you think SOME LIKE IT HOT is still so beloved after more than 60 years?

-How would you rate SOME LIKE IT HOT? 

Marilyn’s Top 3 on IMDB

Theresa Crumpton has compiled her ranking of the best Monroe movies, alongside user ratings from the IMDB website, for the Screen Rant blog. Some Like It Hot, The Asphalt Jungle and The Seven Year Itch top the list, while fan favourite Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is relegated to eighth place; The Prince and the Showgirl, which matches the aggregate score of Bus Stop (ranked sixth), is omitted entirely; and All About Eve, which ties with Some Like It Hot on IMDB, is also conspicuously absent.

‘Some Like It Hot’: Marilyn’s Timeless Classic

As much of the world faces lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic, millions are turning to movies for solace. One of the most frequent suggestions is Some Like It Hot: in the last week alone, Vulture’s film critic Angelica Jade Bastien has sung its praises, while The Medium‘s May Alsaigh focused on Marilyn’s role as Sugar Kane among the most iconic female characters. Monroe fans may wish more attention was paid to her many other great performances; Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is also a comic masterpiece, for example. However, few stars of Hollywood’s golden age enjoy such posthumous acclaim, and with its inclusive message (‘Nobody’s perfect!’), Some Like It Hot has a timeless appeal.

“The time has never been wrong for this delirious screwball romp but seldom has it been more right. When it airs on Turner Classic Movies on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. EDT, we, as a nation, would do well to huddle around Wilder’s warm fire with Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe.”

Jake Coyle, New York Times (via AP)


Marilyn Gets Into Character With Sugar

Writing for the University of Toronto’s student magazine, The Medium, May Alsaigh looks at Marilyn’s role in Some Like It Hot alongside other iconic female screen characters.

“Monroe, an iconic sex symbol from Hollywood’s Golden Age, plays the character Sugar Kane in Some Like It Hot released in the late fifties. The film follows two male musicians who disguise themselves as women as they flee in an all-female band after witnessing a mob hit. This film of meticulous crafts revolves around nothing but sexual desires. In the film, Sugar Kane dresses provocatively as she pours herself in a dress that flaunts her breasts for needy men. Her character speaks to female objectification and misogyny whilst motivating women to propagate toward the idea of revealing attire. “

Marilyn Brings ‘Sugar’ in Hard Times

With many of us now in quarantine due to the spread of coronavirus, I probably won’t be reporting on many events here for a while. However, we at least have the chance to watch movies at home, and with her great comedic gifts, Marilyn can brighten our days in these difficult times. On the Vulture website today, Angelica Jade Bastien recommends Some Like It Hot and if you don’t have a copy at home, it’s widely available on streaming sites like Netflix and Amazon. (Angelica has often championed Marilyn in her articles, which you can read here.)

“But to be completely honest, I return to this film for the wounded performance of Marilyn Monroe. You probably formed an idea of Monroe long before you ever saw her onscreen. Perhaps you caught sight of her flattened image — red lipped and yearning — plastered on a mug, Andy Warhol–style. Maybe you learned through osmosis to regard her as a tragedy. Monroe is a cinematic atom bomb mushrooming with significance. In death she’s become for many artists and writers an emblem of 1950s sexuality, a feminist icon, a victim, a muse. Personally, I’d rather focus on what she did onscreen, where she’s decadently hilarious, brimming with fully realized emotion. At first blush, Sugar could be discarded as just another example of the dumb-blonde archetype. Hell, she calls herself dumb. But I think she’s too self-aware for that. Monroe balances the needs of the character beautifully. Watch as her face melts like ice cream when she notes how she always “gets the fuzzy end of the lollipop.” Watch how she leans over Joe late in the film, her body a canvas upon which the film displays its notions of sex and desire. This is a movie about desire above all else, and the hilarious ways we strive for it.”

‘Smash’ Writers Take Sugar Back to Chicago

Marilyn as Sugar Kane in Some Like It Hot

Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman – the team behind Smash, an NBC drama depicting the making of a Broadway musical about Marilyn – are adapting Some Like It Hot for the stage, with a pre-Broadway limited run set for Chicago in March 2021, Deadline reports. (The classic movie was, of course, partly set in the windy city in the Roaring Twenties.) Some Like It Hot was previously turned into another stage musical, Sugar, which remains popular in regional theatre. Shaiman and Wittman had earlier discussed bringing Bombshell, the ‘show within a show’ from Smash, to the stage, before announcing their current venture back in 2018 (see here.)

Marilyn’s ‘Millionaire’ in Maine

Movie Life magazine, June 1953

How to Marry a Millionaire will be screened at 7 pm today (Wednesday, March 11) at the Lincoln Theatre in Damariscotta, as part of ‘Maine in the Movies’, a series celebrating the state’s bicentennial. Loco, the character played by Betty Grable, spends a romantic interlude in Maine (although the picture was filmed in LA.)

“It is one of those movies which any age group can’t help but be charmed by – even as you wince at the signposted slapstick and archaic female sensibilities. The story is simple: three young women, Loco (Grable), Pola (Monroe), and Schatze (Bacall) plot to marry each other off to a millionaire husband. They rent an expensive apartment, put their heads together, and snare their prey.

Loco discovers Waldo, who is married and owns a lodge in Maine. Not great news to find, but her reaction to the news of his lodge delights him so much that he invites her to accompany him there. Those fascinated by old Hollywood will get a tremendous kick out of seeing three legends playing to their strengths – not to mention a delightfully understated, elegant turn from William Powell – in the splendor of CinemaScope.”

The Times

Jock Carroll’s Marilyn in Niagara Archive

An archive containing more than 200 negatives from the filming of Niagara, part of the late photographer Jock Carroll’s estate, are will go under the virtual hammer this Wednesday, March 4th, at RR Auctions (with copyright), TMZ reports. Bidding starts at $10,000, but the online auctioneers hope it will sell for much more.

Carroll’s stunning book about the shoot, Falling For Marilyn, was posthumously published in 1996 and includes his interviews with Marilyn. His novel, The Shy Photographer (1964), is also said to have been inspired by this memorable encounter. (You can view more of Carroll’s photos here.)

A number of other Monroe-related items will be auctioned, including her December 1961 letter to Lee Strasberg detailing her unrealised plans to expand the Actors Studio and Marilyn Monroe Productions.

“The pics — 227 total, 198 of which depict Marilyn — were snapped by Canadian journalist and photog Jock Carroll in 1952, while she was preparing for her first top billing as Rose Loomis in the noir thriller.

The set of photos is mostly comprised of black-and-white negatives but includes some color positive transparencies. And, along with shots of Monroe, there are several of the sets, scenery and of course … Niagara Falls.

The negatives could become much more than just a collector’s item too … because they include the copyright to the images. Carroll signed the rights over to his son [Angus Carroll] before he died, and the son will grant them to the buyer.

This means the highest bidder at the auction will have the right to print and even sell copies from the negatives, which could lead to big bucks. Commercial use requires permission from Monroe’s estate, however.”

UPDATE: The Josh Carroll archive has been sold for $61,866.25 – more details on the auction here.

Ann E. Todd, Marilyn’s ‘Dangerous Years’ Co-Star, Has Died

Former child actress turned librarian and teacher Ann E. Todd, who starred in Marilyn’s second film, Dangerous Years, has died aged 88. Born in Denver, Colorado, Ann was distantly related to former first lady Mary Todd Lincoln. Amid the hardships of the Great Depression, she was raised by her grandparents.

As Ann Todd, she began her film career aged seven, in George Cukor’s Zaza (1938.) She also appeared in Intermezzo (1939), which launched the Hollywood career of Ingrid Bergman; Destry Rides Again (1939), starring Marlene Dietrich and James Stewart; with fellow child star, Shirley Temple, in The Bluebird (1940); in All This, and Heaven Too (1940), starring Bette Davis; as a younger Linda Darnell in Blood and Sand (1941); and in John Ford’s How Green Was My Valley (1941.)

In 1942, Ann developed blood poisoning and almost died after cutting her foot while playing in her backyard. She went on to appear in King’s Row (1942), starring Ronald Reagan; in Pride of the Marines (1946), and The Jolson Story (1946.)

Marilyn with Ann Todd and Harry Harvey Jr. in Dangerous Years (1947)

At sixteen, Ann was among the stars of Dangerous Years (1947), a youth crime drama directed by Arthur Pierson, and produced by Sol M. Wurtzel for Twentieth Century Fox. Ann plays Doris Martin, one of a group of teenagers who becomes part of a criminal gang led by Danny Jones (Billy Halop.) (Marilyn played a smaller part as Evie, a waitress at the diner where the kids hang out. It was actually the first film she had made, with two short scenes – Ann appears with her in the second, seen below – but was released in January 1948 after her next movie, Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay!, in which her role was mostly cut.)

From 1950-53, Ann played Joyce Erwin in over 100 episodes of an early television sitcom, The Stu Erwin Show (aka Trouble With Father.) To avoid being confused the British actress Ann Todd, she was credited as Ann E. Todd. In 1951, she married Robert David Basart, a composer and professor of music. They had two children, Kathryn and Nathaniel, and remained together until Basart’s death in 1993.

Ann left acting behind to study at UCLA, later attaining a Master’s degree at Berkley, where she worked as a reference librarian from 1970-90, edited the library newsletter, and wrote extensively for Notes, a journal of the Music Library Association publication, earning a Lifetime Achievement citation in 1993. She also taught at the San Francisco College for Women. In 1984 she established Fallen Leaves Press, publishing music titles until 2000.

Ann Basart died peacefully on February 7, 2020, according to the San Francisco Chronicle (via Legacy.)

Ana de Armas Talks ‘Blonde’ With Vanity Fair

With roles in Knives Out, No Time to Die and the upcoming Blonde, Ana de Armas could be the breakout star of 2020. In a cover story for Vanity Fair, Ana talks about the challenge of playing Marilyn.

“Like all actors, fresh and seasoned alike, de Armas has nothing but diplomatic adjectives for her projects and costars, but she absolutely beams when she talks about Blonde, adapted from Joyce Carol Oates’s Pulitzer-nominated fictionalization of Norma Jeane Baker and directed by Andrew Dominik.

‘I only had to audition for Marilyn once and Andrew said “It’s you,” but I had to audition for everyone else. The producers. The money people. I always have people I needed to convince. But I knew I could do it. Playing Marilyn was groundbreaking. A Cuban playing Marilyn Monroe. I wanted it so badly.’

Before the script came her way, her knowledge of Monroe was limited to a few iconic roles and photos, but now she’s become a human conveyor belt of fun facts. Even her dog, Elvis, plays Monroe’s dog in the film. (‘His name was Mafia. Sinatra gave him to her. Of course.’) She also identifies with Monroe in a more profound way: ‘You see that famous photo of her and she is smiling in the moment, but that’s just a slice of what she was really going through at the time.’

‘I have never worked more closely with a director than I worked with Andrew. Yes, I have had collaborative relationships, but to get phone calls at midnight because he has an idea and he can’t sleep and all of a sudden you can’t sleep for the same reason…’

‘I remember when she showed me a video of her screen tests for Blonde,’ says Jamie Lee Curtis, whose father starred with Monroe in Some Like It Hot. ‘I dropped to the floor. I couldn’t believe it. Ana was completely gone. She was Marilyn.'”