Some Like It Hot (1959)

Blind Phyllis likes it not

Apr 6, 2005 at 4:00 am
This Academy Award-winning cross-dressing farce is generally regarded as one of the finest comic films ever made. Then again, Ronald Reagan is generally considered to be one of the finest presidents ever. Some Like It Hot is so utterly unfunny and horribly acted that we damn near had our seeing-eye dog march us back to the library so we could demand our two hours back.

It's that bad.

In fairness, Phyllis loathes old movies. Oscars awarded before 1970 should be treated like Mark McGwire's home run record: with an asterisk alongside each title alerting the viewer to potentially fraudulent character. That said, we had high hopes for Some Like It Hot, partially because everyone and their mother have figuratively fellated Jack Lemmon and director Billy Wilder in virtually every public forum since their respective deaths in the early 21st century.

While Wilder shrewdly went into semiretirement in the 1980s, the vastly overrated Lemmon acted himself into the grave. Which brings us, tangentially, to Glengarry Glen Ross. Forget how much better Kevin Spacey, Al Pacino and Ed Harris are than Lemmon in this macho David Mamet adaptation. What's truly revealing of Lemmon's inflated status is how thoroughly Alan Arkin blows him off the screen in every scene.

With only nine years separating them, Arkin and Lemmon share a generation. And yet the multidimensional Arkin kept (and keeps) getting better at his profession, while Lemmon remained a one-note overactor until the day he keeled over. Phyllis can only hope that when Arkin dies, people will realize how much better he was than Jack the Hack.

Each week the author treks to the Schlafly branch of the St. Louis Public Library, where a staff member blindfolds him and escorts him to the movie shelves. After selecting a film at random, Seely checks it out and reviews it.