Some Like It Hot – Station Sequence
In the previous sequence, Joe imitated a feminine voice to get a job with Jerry in a group of female musicians. But an ellipsis deals with their disguise, obscured by a continuity shot. Thus it is a way two new feminine characters who appear on the platform.
This sequence also marks the appearance of Sugar/Marilyn and the confrontation of the single men with ‘a completely different sex’. 1. Tracking in with a background of nervous jazz : a close shot shows the back of the two musicians, from waist to heels.
We recognize them thanks to their instruments : on the left, with the bow legs which hardly hold on the high heels belong to the player of double bass, Jerry. On the right, Joe walks more straight ahead, but the muscles of his calves are not less bulging. The extras who overtake them are all men, what even more points up their femininity. 2. From then now, the tracking out shows us the “result” of the disguise in the face.
Joe, made up tastefully, makes a likely and elegant woman, his white fur collar contrasting with his dark clothes; Jerry, with his more extravagant leopardskin collar enhanced by a rustle and by a double feather on his cloche hat, mixes in his clothes hairs, feathers and petals. His lipstick extends widely beyond his upper lip, we guess he is worry thanks to a pout. In voice-over, an announcement of the station tells that the train which Joe and Jerry get ready to take is the “Florida Limited”, that goes to Miami.
The musicians thus get the job in the girls’ orchestra, but will they go through the test of the disguise? 3. 4. Close shots on Joe, then on Jerry, each of them seems to take a detached expression in a weak-willed manner. They allow to see closer how each acts like a woman : Joe, simpering, glancing aside, is in the register of seduction. Jerry, in perpetual adjustment, oscillates between the girl (when he opens wide eyes) and the lady 5. 6. 7. Follow-up of the tracking in in the back.
First lurch of Jerry, who twists his ankle because of his high heels. It is not the first time he grumbles since Joe, pragmatic (their aim is to get in the train to escape the gangsters) is irritated by his lamentations. Tony Curtis, with his pale and powdered complexion, his half-closed eyelids as if he was already bored to be disguised as a woman, lets to Jack Lemmon a surprising and excessive palette of face expressions. (6). Bent forwards, Jerry keeps repeating the sex change, unable to be used to the conventions which govern the feminine clothing. How can they walk on these things? ” Joe’s very coarse and anatomical answer (“Must be the way their weight is distributed”) directly anticipates the appearance of Sugar, differently “distributed” indeed. After there is a reverse shot on the line of musicians who gets on the train (7) supplies a set of specimens who adds to Jerry’s panic (“It’s no use. We’ll never get away with it”. Not always come to know every details of his character, he turns his glance to an ideal model. 8. 9.
Catching, off screen, the eyes of both actors playing a female role, Sugar also appears, “cut in two” at the belt-level. The music theme completely changes for a slower but warmer jazz (the muted trumpet replaces the saxophone). As Jerry, she is wearing a feather on her hat, and her ukulele, she is holding like a feminine accessory, seems like a miniature bass. These are the first two common points, still discreet, of a relation in mirror between Daphne and Sugar who will go on throughout the film.
When she passes by near Joe and Jerry, the glances focus on the bottom of her body in so fixing a way like in a cartoon (the glance of the lustful wolf of Tex Avery) 10. a. Front/behind : contrary to Joe and Jerry, Sugar is filmed at first by face at the top, then by back, at the bottom. In point 2, the suspense focused the expectation of the spectator on the transformation (what will Curtis and Lemmon look like in woman? ); here, the suspense is in a way erotic : once Marilyn is identified by face, the question concerns her clothes, how her figure is emphasized.
We also notice that Marilyn’s acting is as exuberant as that of her two partners : fluttering her lashes, moving her lips, rolling gait, she overplays femininity almost as much as Lemmon and Curtis 10. b. The echo of point 9 with point 1 is interrupted by the vapour blast which, from the train, surprises Sugar. The goal is to aim Marilyn’s bottom. In point 6, Jerry complained about draughts under his dress, alluding to the anatomical difference between man and woman but also to the fact that the disguise displays him : it is an exposure.
More than the draught, the white vapour blast materializes the desire which has just sprung from this first meeting : Sugar is literally “whistled” by the train. He also puts Sugar in experimental feminine subject : how does she react? How does she move? How does she go on walking after this hitch? 11. ” it’s like jello on springs! ”. As a boy who took a toy into pieces to see how it works, Jerry questions the anatomical difference, wonders about feminine mechanics and already sees in Sugar a model to be imitated, whereas Joe, totally blown away, is brought down by love at first sight.
The left and the right of the shot are separated by an invisible border between drama and comic. 12. When the newsboy arrives, the headlines of the newspaper (the gangsters are looking for the witnesses of the massacre) definitely position the disguise. Contrary to what Joe promises, Jerry and him are not going to stop this masquerade. If they want to live, they have to reborn in women, come across the shot and blend in the reverse shot, join the line of blond women with hat and instrument. 13. It is a success. Both of them are credible.
Nevertheless Jerry, who is not completely transformed yet, has difficulties in speaking more high-pitched. “You two from the Poliakoff Agency? ” “Yes, we’re the new girls. ” “Brand new”. This first pun of a long series done by Jerry betrays his jubilation to be between two sexes. 14. 15. 16. 17. This series of shots and reverse shots sets up, between the two men, a kind of “every man for himself” : Jerry surprises Josephine by renaming Daphne, Josephine invents a story about the Sheboygan Conservatory of Music (This city really exists in Wisconsin).
Their first conversation with “Sweet” Sue introduces a crossing of border from a sex to the other one, but also a time travel. Aboard this train, the transvestites travel with twenty-year-old girls, in an atmosphere of summer camp bossed around by an iron lady. 18. First feminine misadventure of Jerry (Bienstock pinches his bottom). But both are recognised as “real ladies” : this remark of the only man of the troop sounds like a birth certificate.