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Monday, November 16, 2009

Great Last Scenes: Some Like It Hot

Year: 1959
Director: Billy Wilder
Great Because...: The last line of this film is, arguably, the best last line of any film ever made, which automatically elevates the whole scene. Aside from that, there’s also the fact that director Billy Wilder opts to end on a comedic, rather than a romantic note, which is a good choice. The boy gets the girl at the end of countless films, but how often do Jack Lemmon and Joe E. Brown end up together?

Joe and Jerry, having witnesses a mob hit, escape being permanently silenced by going under cover as a couple of female musicians. Everyone around them buys into their disguises despite the fact that they look unmistakeably like Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in wigs and dresses. This is great as far as staying alive is concerned, but something of a problem since Joe has his sights set on the buxom and flighty Sugar Kane, and Osgood Fielding III has set his sights on Jerry.

Joe dons a second disguise as a Cary Grant-esque impotent millionaire whom Sugar, shall we say, revives while Jerry decides to just go with the flow, allowing himself as herself to be courted by Osgood. Eventually Osgood proposes and Jerry happily accepts, much to Joe’s consternation. "You're not a girl, you're a guy," he reminds his pal. Jerry comes to his senses and his fantasies about the happy life he’ll lead as Mrs. Fielding are replaced by a determination to get out of the fix he's in. When, however, Osgood has an answer to all "Daphne's" reasons why they can't get married, Jerry rips off his wig, exclaimnig, “I’m a man!” Osgood shrugs. “Nobody’s perfect,” he assures his intended, making for an ending that’s an instant classic and delightful no matter how many times you’ve seen it.

I’m not even sure where to start with how perfect this ending is. There’s the exasperated look on Lemmon’s face, the blank, unassuming look on Brown’s face, the couple of tango beats that play over the final seconds and, of course, that line. It is also, quite possibly, the first happy ending for a same sex couple in a mainstream film. I know it’s all played for laughs and not to be taken seriously, but consider how easily Jerry took to the idea of becoming a wife and couple that with the fact that Osgood doesn’t care that his wife will actually be a husband and, I’m telling you, you’ve got the makings of a happily ever after. You’ve also got an ending that ranks amongst the most original and clever ever committed to film, and yet another proof that Wilder is one of the best film directors who ever lived.


M. Carter @ the Movies said...

"Nobody's perfect" may be my all-time favorite exit line. The timing, the facial expressions, the sharp wit of the line itself -- it's all (ironically enough) perfect.

Angela said...

this is the my FAVORITE movie and this is the BEST scene aside from the maraca scene. Jack Lemmon is the best!