‘Some Like It Hot’ 4K UHD Blu-Ray Review – Billy Wilder Classic Is Blessed With A Can’t-Miss Presentation

From the brilliant minds of director Billy Wilder (One, Two, Three) and screenwriter I.A.L. Diamond (The Apartment) comes the quintessential madcap farce, starring the marvelous Marilyn Monroe (The Seven Year Itch) and her bosom companions Tony Curtis (Captain Newman, M.D.) and Jack Lemmon (The Fortune Cookie). When Chicago musicians Joe and Jerry accidentally witness a gangland shooting, they quickly board a southbound train to Florida, disguised as Josephine and Daphne, the two newest—and homeliest—members of an all-female jazz band. Their cover is perfect…until a lovelorn singer falls for Josephine, an ancient playboy falls for Daphne, and a mob boss refuses to fall for their hoax! Well, nobody’s perfect…except for the cast: Marilyn dazzles as Sugar “Kane” Kowalczyk; Tony and Jack give iconic performances; George Raft (A Bullet for Joey), Pat O’Brien (The Front Page) and Joe E. Brown (The Comedy of Terrors) inject Prohibition-era authenticity into the hilarity. Some Like It Hot won the 1960 Academy Award for Best Black-and-White Costume Design (Orry-Kelly) and received nominations for Best Actor (Lemmon), Director (Wilder), Adapted Screenplay (Wilder and Diamond), Black-and-White Cinematography (Charles Lang) and Black-and-White Art/Set Decoration (Ted Haworth and Edward G. Boyle).

For thoughts on Some Like It Hot, please check out our discussion on The Video Attic here

Video Quality

Some Like It Hot appears on 4K UHD Blu-Ray courtesy of an impressive previously-completed 4K digital restoration in 2160p/Dolby Vision that is quite excellent. This is the same restoration that was used for the recent Criterion Collection Blu-Ray release, but I do not have that disc for comparison. If you are of the belief that only a new film can benefit from a proper 4K presentation, you are sadly mistaken. This presentation is simply astounding. The black and white cinematography is gorgeous with smooth gradients and subtle textures. This transfer maintains the filmic quality of the picture with fine film grain giving way to rich details. Black levels are appropriately deep without any pesky nuisances such as digital noise or compression artifacts. The transfer also eradicates any dust specks or print damage that previously plagued the best surviving elements. This picture showcases some excellent depth to the image which gives way to a pleasing sense of scale within the locale. This transfer is a fine showcase of textural details in the costumes and production design. This film looks better than I ever would have imagined even after knowing how much benefit a 4K UHD Blu-Ray can provide. Kino Classics should be praised for this transfer. 

Audio Quality

The 4K UHD Blu-Ray disc comes with both a DTS-HD 5.1 and 2.0 Master Audio track in English that handle this material well. While I do not have the previous Criterion release for comparison, it is my understanding that this uses the same 2.0 mono track as that release. The expanded 5.1 track is pleasing enough for those solely looking to engage all of their speakers, but the go-to track for most fans will be the mono track that captures the original intention of the film. The rollicking score from Adolph Deutsch is used perfectly to establish the mood of the story, and this track handles it elegantly throughout the duration of the film. There is never a moment where it threatens to overwhelm competing sounds, and it maintains a good balance so that dialogue comes through clearly.  The track does not feature constant kinetic activity, but it comes alive when it makes sense in a brilliant way. The environmental sounds such as the chattering in the train car and gunshots are rendered well alongside everything else. There does not seem to be any majorly noticeable instances of age-related wear and tear. Kino Classics has given this film a nicely preserved audio presentation that brings the movie to life in a way that fans should appreciate. 

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Special Features

  • Audio Commentary #1: Paul Diamond (Son of I.A.L. Diamond) and Screenwriters Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel provide a very informative and entertaining commentary track along with interviews with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon stitched into the quiet moments. In this piece, the main trio discuss the assured pacing of the film, background information of certain performers, the comedic timing, the craft of the film and more. The two stars have some really great insights about being cast alongside one another, the direction of Billy Wilder, details behind iconic shots from the film and more. 
  • Audio Commentary #2: Film Historian Joseph McBride, Author of Billy Wilder: Dancing on the Edge, delivers a fact-filled presentation in which he breaks down some of the similarities and differences between this film and earlier iterations of the film, details about various cast members, the way in which Wilder played with the genre, the feminist leanings of the film, how this fits into the career of Billy Wilder, the work of Marilyn Monroe, the legacy of the film and more. 
  • The Making Of Some Like It Hot: A 26-minute archival featurette featuring interviews with director Billy Wilder, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Barbara Diamond and others. In this piece there are discussions about the script-writing process, how the actors got involved with the project, the believability of Curtis and Lemmon as women, the performance from Marilyn Monroe, the scenes that drove Wilder crazy and more. 
  • The Legacy of Some Like It Hot: A nearly 21-minute film in which many of the participants from the previous supplements plus Walter Mirisch, Curtis Hanson, Hugh Hefner and more reflect on the importance of the film and how it has continued to influence subsequent generations. 
  • Nostalgic Look Back: A 31-minute piece in which film critic Leonard Maltin sits down with Tony Curtis for a very enlightening interview about the history of the film including interactions with Billy Wilder, the costumes, fond memories of working with Jack Lemmon, the enduring nature of the film and more. 
  • Memories From The Sweet Sues: A 12-minute featurette in which several of the “Society Syncopators” get together to reflect on their time filming this feature which allows for numerous juicy details that fans will appreciate. 
  • Virtual Hall of Memories: A 21-minute gallery of stills, clips from the film, behind-the-scenes photos and more. 
  • Billy Wilder and Volker Schlöndorff Discuss Some Like It Hot: A 15-minute interview in which Wilder discusses the at-time frustrating process of working with the unreliable Marilyn Monroe, the nature of scintillating filmmaking of the time, issues with remembering dialogue, the comedic timing of the picture, his directing style and more. At one point, Wilder even goes and gets a copy of the script to point out some things important to him. 
  • More with Billy Wilder and Volker Schlöndorff: Six more minutes of material which mostly concerns the politics of the studio at the time and his work with Monroe. 
  • Tribute to I.A.L. Diamond: A two-minute speech from Billy Wilder paying tribute to his collaborator. 
  • Trailers: The two-and-a-half minute trailer is provided for Some Like It Hot. There are also trailers provided for The Apartment, One Two Three, Irma La Douce, The Fortune Cookie, Avanti!, and The Front Page. 
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Final Thoughts

Some Like It Hot remains one of the great classic comedies to this very day. There are many stories in the supplemental features concerning the difficulties surrounding the performance from Marilyn Monroe, but the footage Billy Wilder was able to capture shows off how much of a transfixing presence she was and why no one else would have done this role justice. Likewise, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon are a brilliant comedic pairing with one another who bring such a robust energy to the proceedings. Kino Classics has released a 4K UHD Blu-Ray featuring a stunning A/V presentation and an assortment of special features that cannot be beat. This is not only one of the greatest Billy Wilder films, but also one of the great classic features from cinema’s history. Essential 

Some Like It Hot is currently available to purchase on 4K UHD Blu-Ray.

Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the 4K UHD Blu-Ray.

Disclaimer: Kino Classics has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.

 

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