Because we've grown used to seeing almost every possible subversion and set-up on screen, it's almost impossible to think back to 1959 and realise that, in mixing an affectionate view of transvestism with a light-hearted look at the mob, Billy Wilder was being daring in the extreme. And it was because he laced his own script with continuous charm and big fun that he was able to express those ideas in the mainstream.
For those who haven't seen it, "Some Like It Hot" is one of the greatest comedies ever. In a story of increasingly wild absurdity, it follows the antics of two idiot musicians (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) who, after witnessing the St Valentine's Day Massacre, struggle to escape the gangsters (including a severely unsmiling George Raft) by dressing up in drag and joining an all-girl band. Comic complications aplenty ensue when Tony Curtis - now a pouting girlie - strives to express his lust for Marilyn, while Jack Lemmon - equally high-voiced and simpering - is being pursued by an amorous Joe E Brown, who has one of the funniest - and most radical - final punch-lines in screen comedy.
"Some Like It Hot" is one of those rare movies where all the elements gel all the time. Both Curtis and Lemmon display a real feeling for sexual ambiguity and full-blown silliness, while Marilyn provides a suitably contrasting innocence to the antics of the two rogues. Wilder presents all three with great comic scenes which soar on the back of originality and great timing and embrace both slapstick and super-sharp wit. The desert-island comedy bar none.