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A Coupla Wiseguys: A Dad Introduces His Daughter to Classic Comedies

December 12, 2011

Bruce Fretts: As fans of my 10-year-old daughter’s Facebook page, stuffOlivesays, know, Olive loves classic comedies—Abbott and Costello, Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn and the like. So today I’m starting a new feature on Fretts on Film called “A Coupla Wiseguys,” in which Olive and I will watch old comedies and see how well they hold up.

Olive: I love old comedies. The medium was better back then, with all the good directors. When it was coming in, everyone was so enthusiastic about it.

Bruce: Today we watched Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot, one of my favorite movies of all time. You’d never seen it before. So did you like Some Like It Hot?

Olive: I liked it! I just kept laughing when I saw them acting like girls and running around like that.

Bruce: Curtis and Lemmon play jazz musicians who witness a Mob hit in 1920’s Chicago and hide out as women in an all-female jazz band. They meet Marilyn Monroe, and Curtis falls in love with her. Lemmon finds he likes being a girl and meets a millionaire who wants to marry him—er, her. So what was your favorite part?

Olive: I liked when Jack Lemmon falls in love and comes back from tango-ing with the millionaire and is kinda drunk and shaking the maracas.

Bruce: You’d never seen a Marilyn Monroe movie before. What did you think of her?

Olive: She was good—I liked her. She was funny, and she’s the most beautiful woman in the world.

Bruce: She had a very sad life, though. She was kind of like her character—she had trouble with drinking and men who didn’t take her seriously because she was so beautiful. And she died young.

Olive: I know, at 41. No, wait, that was Michael Jackson.

Bruce: What did you think the movie said about women? Was it making fun of them?

Olive: The movie was just about the difference between genders. I didn’t think it was making fun of women.

Bruce: It showed how hard it was to be a woman—like walking in high heels. Have you ever tried to do that?

Olive: Yes, it’s hard! Sometimes you tip. But I have the smallest feet in the world. Who directed Some Like It Hot?

Bruce: Billy Wilder—he’s one of my favorite directors.

Olive: Hmmm. I like Alfred Hitchcock.

Bruce: What I like about Billy Wilder is his movies aren’t sentimental or silly. Were you surprised by how dark the movie was? A lot of people got killed.

Olive: The thing was, you forgot that they had seen all those people killed in the beginning, because you were just watching all the pretending-to-be-women stuff.

Bruce: Were you surprised by the movie’s last line, when the millionaire says “Nobody’s perfect”? Did you think he wouldn’t want to marry Jack Lemmon after he found out he was a man?

Olive: Yeah, I thought he’d say, “Whoah!” and push him out of the boat.

Bruce: It would be a different movie now because they actually could get married since gay marriage is legal.

Olive: In some states. People didn’t think it was right back then, so I expected him to go crazy.

Bruce: What do you think of the title Some Like It Hot?

Olive: Well, Tony Curtis says it to Marilyn Monroe when they’re talking about jazz on the beach: “Some like it hot, but I prefer classical.” I didn’t think that was a very important line.

Bruce: What do you think it means?

Olive: It’s a metaphor. For men liking hot women.

Bruce: Did you think Tony Curtis was handsome?

Olive: Ehh. So-so.

Bruce: But you thought he was a more convincing woman, right?

Olive: He had the shape of a woman’s face.

Bruce: And you said you thought he sounded like somebody else when he was pretending to be a millionaire.

Olive: Oh, yeah! Cary Grant.

Bruce: I think that was intentional because people thought Cary Grant was the most charming, handsome man in the world. So if you wanted to try to win over a woman, you’d act like Cary Grant.

Olive: Cary Grant’s awesome. He has a good voice and he’s very handsome. He’s a good actor and he’s paired up with very good actresses in his movies.

Bruce: Do you want to meet a man like Cary Grant someday?

Olive: (laughs) I’m not telling you that!

Bruce: Do you think I’m anything like Cary Grant?

Olive: No.

Bruce: I want to be like Cary Grant. He was very debonair.

Olive: What does debonair mean?

Bruce: Slick and charming and attractive. You don’t think I come across that way?

Olive: Not everyone gets their wish, Father.

What classic comedies do you like to watch with your kids? Post a comment, and A Coupla Wiseguys will talk back!

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