Some Like It Hot appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This turned into an excellent presentation.
At all times, sharpness excelled. Nary a sliver of softness materialized here, as the movie appeared accurate and precise.
No signs of jagged edges or moiré effects materialized. I also saw no edge haloes, and with a fine layer of grain, I didn’t discern any digital noise reduction.
Print flaws failed to impact the presentation. Despite the movie’s age, the image came free from specks, marks or other issues.
Black levels seemed good, as Hot portrayed solid contrast with dark tones that looked deep and rich. Shadow detail was appropriately heavy but not excessively thick. I felt wholly impressed with this terrific transfer.
As for the film’s PCM monaural audio, it seemed more than acceptable given the film’s age. Speech showed some of the thin, reedy tones one would expect for a recording from the 1950s, but the lines still appeared fairly concise, and they lacked notable edginess.
Music was reasonably perky and bright, while effects showed pretty positive accuracy and clarity. No source noise damaged the audio. Nothing here impressed, but the mix worked fine when I accounted for the flick’s age and limitations.
How did this Criterion Blu-Ray compare to the prior Blu-ray from 2011? The latter release only included a 5.1 remix and lacked the original monaural. The extra channels didn’t add anything and I preferred the mono mix found here, as it showed superior dynamics and clarity.
As for visuals, the Criterion disc boasted substantial improvements. Everything worked better, as the Criterion version was cleaner and tighter, with superior contrast and blacks. Until/unless we get a 4K UHD of the film, I feel confident the movie won’t look better on home video than this.
As we move to the set’s extras, we begin with an audio commentary from film scholar Howard Suber. Recorded back in 1989, Suber presents a running, screen-specific piece, though we also get occasional excerpts from an interview he did with actor Jack Lemmon.
Suber’s discussion looks at a structural analysis of Hot as well as notes about the production and participants, with an emphasis on issues connected to actor Marilyn Monroe. Lemmon’s occasional comments look at his time on the film and general thoughts about acting.
Overall, this becomes a good commentary. We get a solid look at the movie’s structure along with enough filmmaking facts to satisfy. Expect to find a nice overview here.
The Making of Some Like It Hot goes for 25 minutes, 46 seconds and features Lemmon, actor Tony Curtis, writer/producer/director Billy Wilder, co-writer/associate producer IAL Diamond, Diamond’s wife Barbara, and production company head Walter Mirisch.
The show looks at the movie’s genesis and development, casting, the decision to film in black and white and the transformation of the guys into girls, location shooting and problems with Marilyn Monroe, performance notes and other concerns, the creation of the movie’s famous final line, a deleted scene, and the film’s reception.
“Making” doesn’t act as a great overall look at the film, but it gives us some nice anecdotes. I think the program gives us a good snapshot of the production and entertains as it informs.
For the next piece, we find The Legacy of Some Like It Hot. This 20-minute, 22-second show includes comments from Curtis, Wilder, Lemmon, IAL Diamond and wife Barbara, Mirisch, publisher Hugh Hefner, UCLA cinema professor Howard Suber, and filmmaker Curtis Hanson.
We get a short tour of the current spot that used to be the studio lot and also hear about Wilder’s personality and work. We learn about complaints from the National Legion of Decency and controversies about the film’s sex-related content. The program continues with notes about working with Monroe and the movie’s reception and longevity.
“Legacy” acts as a companion to “Making”. It gets into general issues but doesn’t provide a strong sense of purpose. The show moves along with a collection of fairly interesting insights, though we’ve already heard some of them elsewhere. “Legacy” ends up as a decent little program.
Next comes Memories From the Sweet Sues, a 12-minute, four-second program in which we hear from some of the members of the movie’s all-girl band. Here we find actresses Marian Collier, Laurie Mitchell, Sandra Warner, and Joan Nicholas, all of whom were recorded together for this piece.
Their remembrances lack great insight and the parts during which they watch film clips and gush about the greatness of the flick get a little old, but the ladies still give a nice perspective on the experience. Best of the bunch are two Marilyn-related tidbits.
In one we learn how director Billy Wilder lured Monroe out of her dressing room when she has refused to come onto the set, and in the other we find out whose body appears in the film’s publicity shots. Ultimately, “Memories” becomes generally fun and compelling.
After this comes a 31-minute, 14-second program Interview with Tony Curtis conducted by film critic Leonard Maltin. Recorded in 2001 at the Formosa Café - a Hollywood landmark near the studio at which Hot was filmed - Curtis provides a nicely frank and entertaining remembrance of his days on the movie.
Curtis adds a lot of fun and informative notes throughout this piece. He doesn’t dish any real dirt, but he does relate some idea of how difficult it could be to work with Marilyn, and he gives a solid overview of his experiences. Ultimately, I enjoyed this show and thought it added to my appreciation of the film.
With Costumes by Orry-Kelly, we get an 18-minute, 59-second reel with costume designer/historian Deborah Nadoolman Landis and historian/archivist Larry McQueen. As expected, they discuss the costumes of Hot and bring us a nice look at the clothing choices as well as their creator.
From 1982, we find two episodes of The Dick Cavett Show on which Billy Wilder appeared. The compilation fills 55 minutes, 37 seconds as we get a discussion of Wilder’s life and career. This becomes a lively and engaging chat.
Recording in 1988, we get a Jack Lemmon Interview on a French TV show. It lasts nine minutes, 50 seconds and brings the actor’s thoughts about aspects of Hot. It’s a short but informative piece.
Another archival piece, Marilyn Monroe brings a June 1955 radio recording. It goes for eight minutes, 45 seconds as Monroe chats with host Dave Garroway about
Monroe talks about her move to New York, her attempts to improve as an actor, and other subjects. Nothing scintillating appears here, but it’s good to hear a little from the legendary actor.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we end with a booklet. It mixes photos, credits and an essay from historian Sam Wasson. It’s not one of Criterion’s best but it adds value.
As a movie, Some Like It Hot has endured quite well over the years. While I can’t endorse the AFI’s decision that it’s the funniest film ever made, I still thought it was witty and well-made as a whole. The Blu-ray offers top-notch visuals as well as good audio and a useful compilation of bonus materials. Criterion brings us a terrific rendition of this film.
To rate this film, visit the prior review of SOME LIKE IT HOT