Feminist Film Theory In Some Like It Hot

Submitted By samanthalexandri
Words: 1038
Pages: 5

TVF 462

Feminist Film Theory Paper

Billy Wilder's 1959 film Some like it Hot contains plenty of evidence to support Laura Mulvey's feminist film theory. Wilder's film is a comical farce centered around two musicians who are on the run from a couple of mobsters. In order to do so these men dress in drag and join in all girls band where they are allured by the beautiful but dumb Sugar Kane. The film has been regarded as one of the greats for generations but it has also been the subject of feminist critique. Evidence of the female passiveness, the male gaze, female spectatorship and voyeurism appear in the film through plot, metaphor, camera angles, song, dance, and humor. However, whether the filmmakers intend it or not, the film does brings to light some of the injustices that women endure. This is achieved through the films farce of cross dressing. Wilder's Some like it Hot is critically acclaimed, has been commercially successful, and is still loved today. Nevertheless there is no doubt that this film not only objectifies women but also makes a joke out of femininity. First let us examine the first twenty-five minuets or so of the film. All the characters important to the story are men. Spats Columbo and the Detective Mulligan push along the plot through violence and deceit. From the start our 'heros' Joe and Jerry are actively trying to do something whether that be to strike some money or more importantly save their skins. Mulvey would describe these two as investigative characters which the male audience quickly identifies with. Up to this point there are few female characters of which none seem to matter a whole a lot. The flapper dancers at the funeral club are there to be looked at. The women at the musicians office are given seconds of screen time. The receptionist, though difficult at first, does lose herself in Joe's lukewarm sentiment and is taken advantage of by the charms of men. The lead female of the film, Sugar, is a passive character. She just sits and lets life happen to her. In her first scene she blatantly calls herself dumb and confesses that she's not very bright. Later she explains that she's running away from boys who are constantly capturing her heart and breaking it. This supports the notion of feminist film theory that describes men as controlling characters who direct the lives of women. Other evidence to support this is Joe's deceit and manipulation of Sugar's desires. Joe is an active character because he goes out of his way to construct this very eloquent spiders web in order to catch Sugar. Whereas sugar simply allows herself to be fooled so much so that she throws herself straight into his arms. Other evidence that proves this films objectification of women appears through a comical metaphor. After Jerry (Daphne) arrives on the train he claims its, "like falling into a tub of butter." He goes on to say that he dreamt that he was, "locked up overnight in a pastry shop and there were goodies all around. There was jelly rolls, and mocha eclairs, and sponge cake and Boston cream pie." I personally find it interesting that Monroe's character is named Sugar Kane. (By today's standards it sounds like a stripper name.) This joke or metaphor is just another way of stating that Sugar is something sweet to eat. It's a complete objectification. The use of camera angles is one of the most obvious ways that this film creates a male gaze. Sugar's entrance is shot to frame her backside. The camera is tight on her backside and is described by Jerry as "jello on springs." Later she is reintroduced with a shot of her laced up thigh and when she exists the camera tilts down to look at her legs. The party scene on the train is nothing but leg. This also supports Mulvey's idea of fetishism. The leg is no sexual organ but the