Marilyn Monroe
Jack Lemmon
Tony Curtis
George Raft
Joe E. Brown
Pat O'Brien
Joan Shawlee
Billy Gray

Billy Wilder

"It's the story of my life. I always get the fuzzy end of the lollipop."
Time: 119 mins.
Rating: PG
Genre: Comedy/Romance

Won Academy Award for Best Costume Design. Nominations for Best Actor (Lemmon), Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.
This is Billy Wilder at his filmmaking best. A smart, sophisticated, sexy and silly comedy that will keep you laughing from start to finish. The original, witty and romantic script gives his all-star cast more than their fair share of moments to shine. This may be the best performance Marilyn Monroe ever gave, but she's overshadowed by the brilliant turns of her two talented co-stars. Curtis and Lemmon steal the show as Depression-era musicians forced into drag to escape the clutches of the mob. The one-liners fly as these two men do everything they can to stay alive, as well as convince the world that they're actually women. Not an easy feat with Marilyn around. They aren't remotely pretty, but they sure know how to be funny.

The film takes place at the height of Prohibition. It's hard to get work, especially as musicians. Joe (Curtis) and Jerry (Lemmon) finally land a 4 month gig in a speakeasy, but before they can even get their first check the club is busted by the police and the owner, Spats Columbo (Raft), is taken into custody. Joe and Jerry escape arrest only to be in the hot seat again later that week when they accidently witness the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, Spats handiwork. On the run, they accept a job with a band they couldn't be more wrong for – Sweet Sue and her Society Syncopaters, an all-girl jazz group on it's way to Florida. Jerry can't believe his ears, but agrees to the plan. After all, it has to be better than freezing to death in Chicago while waiting to be murdered. If they can pull this off, they'll be employed, warm and stuck in the middle of a bevy of beauties. Not a bad way to go.

On the train they meet the other girls in the band. Both are immediately smitten with Sugar Kane (Monroe), the lead singer and ukelele player. She's just the kind of dish Jerry would love to get his hands on. She has a bit of a drinking problem, but nobody's perfect. Sugar and Jerry/Daphne become best pals after he takes the blame when her flask hits the floor during rehearsal. Anybody caught drinking is thrown out of the band, but because Daphne/Jerry is new Sue makes an exception. This rule doesn't stop the girls from having a BYOB slumber party in Jerry's bunk later that evening. He was hoping for a little one-on-one time with Sugar, but things get quickly out of hand. While the rest of the girls are partying with Jerry, Sugar pours her heart out to Josephine/Joe. She's blue because she always falls for the wrong guy – saxophone players – who inevitably dump her. When she gets to Florida, she's going to marry a gentle, quiet millionaire. Musicians only bring her trouble.

This is good news and bad news for Joe. Now he knows what Sugar is looking for in a man. Unfortunately, his true identity – a sweet-talking saxophone player – doesn't leave him any chance with her. So, he adopts another identity, that of Junior, a young millionaire who's emotionally frigid when it comes to love. He doesn't stay that way for long. One evening with Sugar cures him of his disease. The only problem now is actually telling her the truth. Meanwhile, Daphne/Jerry is having love problems of his own. A real millionaire has fallen for him and wants to get married. Much to Joe's horror, Jerry agrees. After all, why shouldn't Jerry get the chance to marry for money. Joe reminds him of the little problem of his sexuality. Jerry is still convinced the relationship would work. This way they have more in common. It's inevitable that Spats catches up with them, causing more pandemonium. Joe and Jerry are finally exposed for the men they are. Lucky for them their love partners don't care. It's a happy ending for all.

There's a reason this film was nominated for Best Screenplay. It is so clever and funny, you won't believe your ears. No matter how many times I've seen this film, I always find a new comic morsel to giggle over. Lemmon and Curtis are at their comic best. Though they're dressed as women, you never doubt for a second that these guys are real men. The fact that they're hopelessly unattractive doesn't hurt. Monroe gives a sweet, silly and sad performance that makes you wish she could have gotten more roles like this one. She may not be the brightest bulb in the bunch, but she's not just a bimbo. She brings depth to a role that could have been shallow and trite. Much like her role as "The Girl" in THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH, Sugar requires more than just a pretty face. No one's ever exactly what they seem in a Wilder pic. This movie won awards for a reason. It doesn't matter that it's 40-years-old. Rent it. It was funny then and it's funny now. Men in dresses never go out of style.