Billy Wilder was one of the great film directors of all time. His films included such classics as The Apartment, The Lost Weekend, Sunset Boulevard, and Witness For The Prosecution. As I discuss in Bringing Back The Old Hollywood, he was also my stepfather’s closest friend, and they had lunch together every week for over 30 years.
Wilder’s best known and most beloved film was 1959’s Some Like It Hot, starring Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, and Tony Curtis. In the film, Curtis and Lemmon, both at their comedic best, play 2 hapless musicians on the run from the mob who dress up in women’s clothing and makeup to join an all-girl band heading to a gig in Florida. Monroe plays the band’s lead singer with her traditional breathless vulnerability. Lemmon and Curtis both fall in love with her and vie for her affections at the same time that a millionaire businessman, played by the inimitable funny man Joe.E.Brown actually falls in love with Lemmon, thinking he is a woman.
Although Lemmon flirts with the idea of going through with the wedding so he can hit Brown up for money, he realizes that he just can’t keep up the ruse any longer, leading to today’s classic scene and immortal last line.
On a boat with Brown at the end of the film, Lemmon does everything he can to gently break the news to Brown that Lemmon just can’t marry him. Brown, however, won’t give up. Lemmon uses every excuse he can think of to no avail until finally, in utter desperation, Lemmon tears off his wig, and blurts out “I’m a man!”
Without so much as missing a beat, Brown looks quickly at Lemmon and blithely says “Nobody’s perfect!” Off Lemmon’s stunned look, the film ends.
Some Like It Hot is rightfully considered to be one of the great comedies of all time and that last scene and line will live forever as classics of The Old Hollywood.