It's 1929 Chicago and musicians Joe and Jerry (Curtis and Lemmon) are out of work when the speakeasy where they play is raided. Then they accidentally witness their former boss Spats (Raft) rubbing out the informant (Stone) who tipped off a Fed (O'Brien). So Joe and Jerry hide out as women in an all-girl band that's heading to Florida. But there are wrinkles: Joe falls in love with the band's lead singer, the ditsy and very sexy Sugar (Monroe); and a millionaire (Brown) falls for Jerry, or rather "Daphne." Meanwhile Spats and the entire mafia are about to attend a conference in Florida, where he just might see a couple of familiar faces....
Wilder is a master at this kind of thing, and he directs the film flawlessly, bringing out the sharp humour, witty characters and even the suspense with a seeming effortlessness. I'm sure there's a reason why he filmed in black and white (colour was in general use, and surely with this cast it wasn't a low budget picture!), but it doesn't really matter, since everything and everyone is so colourful even in monochrome. This is one of Monroe's best roles--combining screwball comedy with layers of pathos. And Lemmon absolutely steals the film with his nonstop energy and physicality. There's a certain hamminess in some of the events and characters (Brown is especially silly, but his dialog is so good we don't mind), the innuendo is far more racy than anything the Farrelly brothers think up, and yet this still manages to be a complete winner on every level. See it on the big screen if at all possible.
[themes, innuendo] 2.Aug.00
UK reissue 20.Oct.00
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