Marilyn’s Comic Genius in ‘Some Like It Hot’

Back in 2017, Angela Morrison wrote an appreciation of Marilyn, ‘the most visible star‘. Now she takes a closer look at Some Like It Hot on the Film School Rejects blog.

“Sugar is breezy and cheerful, seemingly gullible as she befriends two women who are very obviously men in disguise, yet Marilyn imbues her with both wide-eyed silliness and something darker lurking just beneath the surface. Perhaps this characterization mirrors Marilyn’s real-life persona as a bubbly star with a rocky past, but it also attests to her talent that she could create comedic characters whose countenances belie something deeper just beneath. Sugar’s references to her past heartbreaks – ending up with the ‘fuzzy end of the lollipop’ – hint at a sense of loneliness and a longing for companionship. Although we never learn much about her past, her status as a touring musician indicates that she lives a somewhat transient life, never settled down anywhere, always giving pieces of herself away in her performances. All of this shines through as Marilyn dances, sings, giggles, and gossips throughout the film.”

Marilyn: ‘The Most Visible Star’

Marilyn in ‘Niagara’ (1953)

In an article for Film School Rejects, Angela Morrison asks why Marilyn’s acting achievements are still so often overlooked, and examines how her career was impacted by typecasting.

“What frequently happens when actors play the same types of characters over and over again is that audiences assume that the actor is their character in real life … many people believe Marilyn Monroe was genuinely being herself onscreen. This is inaccurate and does not give her very much credit for the hard work that went into her performances.

She essentially played the same character in all of her comedies, but brought a unique spin to each story … Flashes of her dramatic talents are visible in some of her early roles, such as her emotionally damaged babysitter in Don’t Bother to Knock (1952), and and her femme fatale in 1953’s Niagara (one of my personal favorites of her performances).

Her final performance as Roslyn in John Huston’s The Misfits (1961) is just as powerful as Bus Stop, although perhaps more depressing … she was no longer playing young and naive ‘starlets’, but was instead portraying complex women. It takes talent to play both comedy and drama; however, dramas such as The Misfits require a different kind of depth than comedies such as Some Like It Hot (1959).”