Friday, February 14, 2014

EXTRA: 85 years since 'massacre,' yet I just want to watch Marilyn Monroe

It has been 85 years since the violent outburst in a garage at 2121 N. Clark St. that we now think of as the St. Valentine’s Day massacre. Yet all I can think of on this Friday is Marilyn Monroe.

Yes, the curvaceous beauty to whom all Hollywood glamour for all time invariably gets compared.

A PART OF me wants to pull out my copy of “Some Like It Hot” and pop it in the DVD player.

Let’s not forget that the film starring Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon was set largely on board a passenger train and in Miami Beach. But it started in Chicago with their two musician characters inadvertently witnessing the grisly killings.

Hence, they have to get out of town before they’re killed off. So naturally, they dress up as women, get hired by an all-girl band (Sweet Sue and her Society Syncopators) and wind up encountering Sugar (played by Monroe).

Yes, it’s total nonsense. Just the other day I stumbled across a Monroe documentary that said much of the humor of the film was in the preposterous notion that Monroe’s character would not be immediately able to tell that “Josephine” and “Daphne” were really men.

BUT IT DOES put a humorous touch to that ugly day. It certainly comes across as more entertaining than the 1967 film “The St. Valentine’s Day” massacre, which was a slightly-fictionalized take on what supposedly happened.

But one that got bogged down in so much factual matter that it becomes dreary at times. It gives evidence to the old cliché, “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.”

That film certainly did.

When it comes to the latter film, what I most note is that it gave us Jason Robards as Capone – some nine years prior to giving us the award-winning performance as the Washington Post’s Ben Bradlee in “All the President’s Men.”

HE WENT FROM playing a man who later got busted by the Internal Revenue Service to being the man who helped take down a political hack of a president.

Interesting material. Although I’d still rather watch Monroe – who showed us her humor as well as her curves.

The real thing!
Even if it’s not, strictly speaking, a historic moment film. Although if there is a moment in Chicago history that I’d like to see someone try to make a film out of, it is the Chicago fire of October 1871.

I realize that 1937’s “In Old Chicago” starring Don Ameche already gave us one take. Yet I wonder what could be done now, with the additional knowledge we now have that acquits the reputation of the O’Leary family and with the visual technology that could make the burning down of nearly an entire city a true spectacle to watch.

COME TO THINK of it, I think I’d still rather see the interaction of Curtis and Lemmon in “Some Like It Hot.” It has its humorous moments.

And it also gave us what might well be the funniest ending line of a film (by comedian Joe E. Brown) ever when Lemmon’s “Daphne” character finally whips off his wig and reveals he’s a man.

“Well, nobody’s perfect!”


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