I saw the Absolutely Fabulous movie recently and mentioned to a mate who had also seen it about the obvious extended nod to Some Like it Hot in the second half of the movie.
To my horror, she calmly informed me that she had never seen Some Like It Hot. Had never seen Lemmon and Curtis trip down a railway station platform in heels, never seen Marilyn Monroe improbably playing the ukulele while unsurprisingly falling out of her dress, and never seen the two romances play out in the South of France.
It has been many years since I saw the film, but found it on the streaming services Stan and re watched it recently and as I sat and enjoyed it all over again, I remembered a quote that I came across years ago, ‘Billy Wilder thought he was Billy Wilder long before he was Billy Wilder.’ I am pretty sure I read it in a book we used to have in our toilet called Halliwell’s book of film quotes, but I have just googled it and not been able to find it, so it may have been apocryphal. Either way Billy Wilder’s ability to deliver a great film is still very much in evidence in the legacy of features he left behind.
Long after he knew he was Billy Wilder, but way before I did, I used to love Irma La Douce, although I did not realise exactly what Shirley Maclaine did for a living. It has been a long time since I have seen that film but tonight I watched for the first time a film of his I have never watched but which I have heard referenced a load of times: The Apartment.
Like Irma, this is another film starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley Maclaine and it is wonderful. I thought I might struggle with the premise – given that it is the story of a young man who lends out his apartment to a number of executives at his office for their affairs, but I did not. There are a couple of reasons for this, not least of which is the point of view and the vulnerability that Lemmon brings to the role. There are also a couple of really neat devices – one, for example using a make up compact – that both really shift the plot along and leave the audience (me) in a quiet agony for the two young protagonists.
I know it is supposed to be a comedy, but there was enough unrequited love for enough time to ensure I did my fair share of bawling my eyes out. Many of the men behave in an appalling manner, but they are seen to be appalling so that is OK. I guess the the fact that I started watching it to try the first ten minutes out and 45 minutes later was still there while Lucy’s eyes stared unblinkingly at me in disbelief that we were still not out on a walk.
Now that I have watched this, as late as I am coming to it, I wonder about the other Billy Wilder films that I have not yet seen. Double Indemnity springs to mind, as does Sunset Boulevard. I guess I better get on to it; or Avanti! one might even say – at least I have seen that one.