Some Like It Hot is a 1959 American black-and-white romantic comedy film directed and produced by Billy Wilder, starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon. The screenplay by Wilder and I. A. L. Diamond is based on a screenplay by Robert Thoeren and Michael Logan from the 1935 French film Fanfare of Love. The film is about two musicians who dress in drag in order to escape from mafia gangsters whom they witnessed committing a crime (inspired by the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre).
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Tony Curtis was spotted by Billy Wilder while he was making the film Houdini (1953), and he thought Curtis would be perfect for the role of Joe. “I was sure Tony was right for it,” explained Wilder, “because he was quite handsome, and when he tells Marilyn that he is one of the Shell Oil family, she has to be able to believe it.”
Wilder’s first idea for the role of Jerry was Frank Sinatra, but he did not come to the audition. Jerry Lewis and Danny Kaye were also considered for the role of Jerry. Finally, Wilder saw Jack Lemmon in the comedy Operation Mad Ball and selected him for the part. Wilder and Lemmon would go on to make numerous films together, including The Apartment and several films which also included Walter Matthau.
According to York Film Notes, Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond didn’t expect a star as big as Marilyn Monroe to take the part of Sugar. “Mitzi Gaynor was who we had in mind,” Wilder said. “The word came that Marilyn wanted the part and then we had to have Marilyn.” Wilder and Monroe had made the film The Seven Year Itch together in 1955. It was George Raft’s first “A” picture in a number of years.