Some Like It Hot: Exploring Gender and Comedy in Classic Cinema

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Billy Wilder’s iconic comedy film, Some Like It Hot, debuted in 1959. The story, which takes place during Prohibition, centers on the adventures of two musicians named Joe and Jerry who have to flee after witnessing a mob hit. They pose as women and join an all-girl band in an attempt to get away from the mobsters. The movie, which is recognized as one of the best comedies of all time, stars Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and Marilyn Monroe in the key parts.

For its creative use of humor and subversion of conventional gender roles, Some Like It Hot is regarded as a classic piece of Hollywood filmmaking. At the time the movie came out, Hollywood movies frequently served to reinforce the rigid gender norms that were then pervasive in society. Some Like It Hot, on the other hand, dared to subvert these expectations by depicting women as multifaceted, autonomous individuals and by deftly using cross-dressing. Traditional gender roles were a hallmark of Hollywood’s golden age of film.

Women were frequently reduced to supporting roles as love interests or damsels in distress, while men were usually portrayed as powerful, dominant characters. The way gender roles were portrayed at the time mirrored the expectations of the society, which held that women should take care of the home & men should provide for their families. These archaic gender roles are best illustrated by the 1942 film Casablanca and the 1939 film Gone with the Wind. The character of Ilsa, played by Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca, is portrayed as a weak & reliant woman, while Rick, played by Humphrey Bogart, is the embodiment of masculinity.

Comparably, Vivien Leigh’s character Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind is portrayed as a headstrong but ultimately submissive woman, while Clark Gable’s character Rhett Butler is a strong and assertive man. Some Like It Hot uses cross-dressing as a comedic device to subvert these conventional gender roles. To escape the mobsters, Tony Curtis’s Joe and Jack Lemmon’s Jerry dress like women. As they adjust to life as an all-female band, this results in a number of hilarious scenarios.

Cross-dressing is used in the movie to challenge the idea that gender is fixed and unchangeable and to show how ridiculous rigid gender roles are. The movie questions viewers’ preconceptions about what it means to be masculine or feminine by portraying Joe & Jerry as women. It also casts doubt on gender’s performative quality by implying that it is a costume that can be worn or removed. Through its portrayal of women, Some Like It Hot also challenges conventional gender norms. Although women are first shown in the movie as objects of desire, it soon reveals their complexity and agency.

Sugar Kane, played by Marilyn Monroe, is a fully developed character with her own goals & aspirations in addition to being Joe & Jerry’s love interest. Sugar Kane is a gifted vocalist with aspirations of becoming a well-known performer. She is an active participant in her own narrative rather than just a passive object of male attention. She is also shown to be sexually liberated, expressing her desires honestly and pursuing relationships at her own pace. For its time, this representation of a self-assured woman in the sexual realm defied conventional notions of what constitutes a woman’s sexuality.

Comedy has long been a weapon for subverting gender norms and other social conventions. Comedy can expose the ridiculousness of rigid gender roles & compel viewers to reconsider them by putting them in ludicrous or exaggerated situations. With the help of humor and situations that make Joe & Jerry face their own gender stereotypes, Some Like It Hot subverts conventional gender norms. Comedy has also been used in other movies to question gender norms. Male characters that pose as women in comedic situations that subvert gender norms can be found in movies like Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) and Tootsie (1982).


These comedic movies examine how gender is flexible and challenge the expectations society has of both men & women. In the film Some Like It Hot, Marilyn Monroe’s character Sugar Kane is a key figure in the subversion of conventional gender roles. Despite being well-known for her iconic portrayal of the “dumb blonde” archetype, Monroe defies this stereotype in Some Like It Hot by presenting a nuanced, multifaceted character.

Sugar Kane is a gifted performer with her own goals and aspirations, not just a pretty face. Her ambitions & independent spirit define her more than her romantic relationships with men. Through her performance in Some Like It Hot, Monroe pushed the limits of how women were traditionally portrayed in Hollywood films and defied the expectations of both the public and critics.

Some Like It Hot has left a lasting impression on modern comedy, inspiring TV show & movie makers to examine the fluidity of gender and question conventional gender roles. Since the movie’s premiere, many comedies have tried to imitate its use of cross-dressing as a comedic device. As was previously mentioned, movies like Mrs. Doubtfire and Tootsie are indebted to Some Like It Hot for their humorous examination of gender. RuPaul’s Drag Race and other TV programs that use drag to celebrate performance art and subvert gender stereotypes have also been impacted by the movie. LGBTQ+ film has been greatly influenced by Some Like It Hot as well.

LGBTQ+ viewers connected with the film’s gender exploration and celebration of nonconformity because they recognized themselves in Joe and Jerry’s characters. The movie became a landmark for LGBTQ+ viewers, who frequently experienced social pressure to adhere to rigid gender norms, because of its depiction of cross-dressing and its challenging of conventional gender roles. LGBTQ+ people felt validated & empowered by Some Like It Hot, which showed them that it was okay to defy social norms and lead authentic lives.

Feminist film theory has also examined and debated Some Like It Hot. The way that women were portrayed in the movie as strong, autonomous characters went against the conventional gender roles that were common in vintage Hollywood productions. Scholars of feminist film theory have discussed how Some Like It Hot challenges gender expectations and shows women as active characters in their own narratives.

Feminist scholars have expressed interest in the film’s portrayal of female sexuality and its examination of the performative nature of gender. In summary, Some Like It Hot is still a beloved comedy that examines gender fluidity and subverts conventional gender roles. The film defies expectations of what was conventionally seen in classic Hollywood filmmaking with its use of cross-dressing and its portrayal of women as complex, independent characters. The influence of Some Like It Hot can be observed in modern comedies, as filmmakers and TV programmers persistently question conventional gender roles and delve into the ambiguity of gender.

Its influence on feminist film theory and LGBTQ+ filmmaking further establishes the movie’s lasting significance in the field of gender & comedy in classic film. Its ground-breaking treatment of gender and capacity to make viewers laugh while questioning social conventions will keep Some Like It Hot remembered.

FAQs

What is the article “Some Like It Hot: Exploring Gender and Comedy in Classic Cinema” about?

The article explores the relationship between gender and comedy in classic cinema, with a focus on the film “Some Like It Hot.”

What is the significance of “Some Like It Hot” in the context of gender and comedy?

“Some Like It Hot” is considered a groundbreaking film in terms of its exploration of gender and sexuality through comedy. It challenged traditional gender roles and stereotypes, and paved the way for future films to do the same.

What are some examples of gender and comedy in classic cinema?

Other examples of gender and comedy in classic cinema include “Tootsie,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” and “The Birdcage.”

How did “Some Like It Hot” challenge traditional gender roles?

The film featured two male characters who dress up as women in order to escape the mob. Through their experiences as women, they challenge traditional gender roles and stereotypes, and ultimately learn to empathize with and understand women in a new way.

What impact did “Some Like It Hot” have on future films?

“Some Like It Hot” paved the way for future films to explore gender and sexuality through comedy, and inspired a new generation of filmmakers to challenge traditional gender roles and stereotypes. It remains a classic and influential film to this day.

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