Billy Wilder Peter John Dyer - Essay

Peter John Dyer

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Some Like It Hot] will not appeal to those who find female impersonation unamusing in any circumstances; and certainly, since it also contains two painfully accurate re-creations of gangland slaughter, its opportunities for offence are considerable. In fact the gangster sequences are the least successful part of the film. There is too much random detail and intramural humour … and the whole could be cut by at least one bloodbath. The horrifying Al Capone reunion dinner, for instance, is effectively staged …, but it is an unrelated tour de force; its sole purpose, to conclude the "drag" act necessitated in the first place by an involuntary witnessing of the St. Valentine's Day massacre, could have been more simply served.

Although the comedy never quite shakes off this basic confusion in styles, it comes to life from the start….

Almost every character has a touch of consulting room fantasy….

Obviously the day is that much nearer when Billy Wilder must film Hirschfeld's Anomalies and Perversions as a musical. So long as it casts Jack Lemmon as an Oedipus complex, there should be no grounds for complaint.

Peter John Dyer, "Billy Wilder's 'Some Like It Hot'," in Sight and Sound (copyright © 1959 by The British Film Institute), Vol. 28, Nos. 3-4, Summer-Autumn, 1959, p. 173.