Chills and Spills

Lona Williams's ham-fisted script insures that the fix is in, in more ways than one. Like Michael Ritchie's Smile—the 1975 Altman wannabe that more or less invented this particular subgenre—Drop Dead Gorgeous feasts on the spectacle of the contestants' mealymouthed interviews and idiotic dance rehearsals. Will you appreciate a ballerina who signs inspirational lyrics as she dances? Or laugh at the grotesque joke of an anorexic in a wheelchair lip-synching "Don't Cry Out Loud"? Although the big goof is Richards singing "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" to a crucified Jesus, the most appropriate number would have something to do with shooting ducks in a barrel.


As an antidote to midsummer movie fatigue, Film Forum is reviving Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot in a new 35mm print. Wilder's 1959 smash, one of the funniest and most resilient Hollywood comedies of the past four decades, was itself a sort of retrospective—set in 1929, it placed itself in the comic traditions of Mack Sennett and the Marx Brothers while featuring a large supporting cast of Hollywood veterans.


The Haunting
Directed by Jan De Bont
Written by David Self
From the novel The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
A DreamWorks release

Drop Dead Gorgeous
Directed by Michael Patrick Jann
Written by Lona Williams
A New Line Cinema release

Two jazz musicians—Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon—witness a gangster massacre and escape Chicago by passing themselves off as members of an all-female band whose featured performer is Marilyn Monroe. Poured into her translucent gowns, Monroe is doubly exposed—she plays a voluptuous lost soul with disconcerting vulnerability. Still, she rises to the occasion in the brilliant early scene where she shares an upper berth with the ostensibly female and hilariously overstimulated Lemmon. (As drag acts go, Curtis talks the talk but Lemmon walks the walk—just watch him dance the tango with Joe E. Brown.)

The movie is a bit too long for its basic joke but, if you haven't seen it recently, that famous closing line will leave you laughing all too soon. A corpse-littered comedy riffing on homosexuality, transvestism, impotence, and masochism (thus arguably more daring than Eyes Wide Shut), Some Like It Hot was so popular that one of the networks considered using it as the basis for a sitcom.

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