Billy Wilder’s comic film Some Like It Hot (1959) subjects a number of stereotypical characters to the antics of the heroes Joe and Jerry who dress up as women. Seen through the eyes of Joe/Josephine and Jerry/Geraldine, Spats Colombo is the archetypal gangster figure while…
This is how the gangster figure maintains his mystique and aura of fear. When Spats Colombo does appear in front of the camera he is extremely well groomed, and has a cold, aloof expression. His name, and his evident desire to keep his white shoes clean, are ironic touches, because they show an obsession with external appearances, while the audience knows that underneath this suave and highly groomed exterior there is a much darker criminal personality.
Sugar Kane likewise has a significant name, which in this case emphasizes her sweetness, but when Joe and Jerry meet her, she explains that her real name is Kowalczyk. This shows that she is not all that she appears to be. Her sweetness is real but she exudes a siren power. Even her weakness for alcohol is given a sexual connotation when she takes her flask from her garter, giving the boys, who are dressed as girls, full view of her legs. The film plays with the intimacy of girls sharing private space together, and there is humor in the way that scenes which would be innocent and pure between girls alone together, become piquant and tense when the boys are in drag.
In their own specific ways, Spats Columbo and Sugar Kane represent extremes of masculinity and femininity in Prohibition America. The trick of drag acting calls these stereotypes into question and makes the radical point that men and women can find love in the ambiguous space between genders. The film shows that this is a better, and much funnier, way than the traditional confines of gender ...
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