100 Years 100 Movies: What a Drag

Previously: Tinseltown Talkies

For my second installment, I'll be taking a look at a pair of films from different eras that both utilize the age old comedic premise of men disguising themselves as women.

22. Some Like It Hot (1959)

While a few of the movies we have watched so far have almost felt like a homework assignment, Some Like It Hot was genuinely entertaining. The setup involves two Jazz musicians (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) forced into hiding after witnessing a gangland shooting. Now this may not sound very comical, but add the detail that they are hiding as members of an all girl jazz band, and much hilarity ensues. Marilyn Monroe oozes curvaceous sex appeal as the lead singer of the band, and sparks understandably fly when the boys get their first look at her. Curtis and Monroe share a slew of sharp, innuendo laced one liners, while Lemmon covers the broad slapstick. Thanks to the tight plotting and memorable dialogue, it is easy to forget that these are the two least convincing ladies of all time (at least until Charles and Buddy don dresses and wigs on an episode of Charles in Charge). There is no secondary agenda or deep hidden subtext to be found, Some Like it Hot just wants to make you laugh. If you have never seen this movie, go rent it next weekend and that's exactly what you'll end up doing... a lot.
Jerry/Daphne: Will you look at that! Look how she moves! It's like Jell-O on springs. Must have some sort of built-in motor or something. I tell you, it's a whole different sex!

69. Tootsie (1982)

I'll be honest. I had heard of Tootsie, but had never had much desire to see it because, well, the thought of Dustin Hoffman in drag just wasn't very appealing to me. In the film, Michael Dorsey (Hoffman) is an actor so desperate for work that he invents the persona of Dorothy Michaels to audition for the part of a middle aged woman on a soap opera. And since there wouldn't have been a movie otherwise, he ends up getting it, and the charade soon becomes more elaborate by necessity. While this premise could have been handled with all the finesse of a mediocre sitcom, Tootsie successfully rises above the gimmick with a witty screenplay and memorable performances. There are all manner of sexual complications that come along with his deception, including falling in love with a female co-star (Jessica Lange), and having said female co-star's father fall in love with him, but Michael is also pleasantly surprised to discover that Dorothy liberates him to become the person he never knew he could be. There are some sharp observations about gender politics in the '80s to be had, not to mention some gentle satire at the expense of soap operas. Bill Murray provides some great lines in a small supporting role as Michael's roommate, wryly observing what intelligent viewers should already be thinking. And as a self proclaimed intelligent viewer, I sure appreciate that.
Michael Dorsey: I was a better man with you, as a woman... than I ever was with a woman, as a man. You know what I mean?

There's only one word to describe these so-called ladies: Woof.


Caitlinp said...

Those are two of our favorite movies. Glad you liked them!

ScottBoomer said...

Any chance this inspired you to try on a dress and make up?
You know just to see what it's like.

Dave said...

Maybe if I am being pursued by mobsters.