Sax and spats: The Culture Studio reviews Some Like it Hot

There’s such pleasure for the listener in hearing something you know being chewed over properly.

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The Culture Studio
BBC Radio Scotland

A review of the week’s films on The Culture Studio (weekdays, 2.05pm) included, joyously, Billy Wilder’s 1959 Some Like It Hot – not, as is so often the case with rereleases, shoved at the end of the chat, but given substantial time (they even played a clip). There’s such pleasure for the listener in hearing something you know being chewed over properly. But try telling most radio producers that.

The presenter Ricky Ross and critics Siobhan Synnot and Eddie Harrison chatted delightedly about the train scenes, in which the girl band of candy-floss blondes, led by a 32-year-old Marilyn Monroe, travels from Chicago to Miami to play at a hotel along with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, done up as music conservatoire escapees. Speeding from the freezing city to the magical land of palm trees and yachts, it feels like the masquerade ball in The Comedy of Errors.

“It all feels like a Shakespeare comedy,” said Ross, banging the table as his guests hooted in assent. This is a Shakespearean utopia, a world where you’re forever bumping into funny people, and maximal things happen. Cold and heat, musicians and killers: a witty way to divide up the world. All the “good” people are natural musicians. The rest are arid, uptight gangsters who use toothpicks and worry unsexily about getting booze stains on their spats. Synnot pointed out the sly way Lemmon plays the maracas in one scene – “I’m engaged!”– to buy time for the audience to clutch aching sides and laugh between lines. 

Antonia Quirke is an author and journalist. She is a presenter on The Film Programme and Pick of the Week (Radio 4) and Film 2015 and The One Show (BBC 1). She writes a column on radio for the New Statesman.

This article appears in the 23 July 2014 issue of the New Statesman, Summer Double 2014