At 84 years of age, Tony Curtis would be forgiven for slowing down. Instead he has written the story behind the making of one of his best-loved films, Some Like It Hot. Here are five choice snippets.
1) Early in his relationship with Marilyn Monroe, Curtis struggled to understand himself, and saw his self-doubt mirrored in her: “I guess when you’re in your twenties, that’s how it is. You’ve got an adult body, but you’re trying to make it work with a kid’s emotions. With Marilyn and me, it was worse. Our kid emotions didn’t even work.”
2) While Monroe and Curtis were dating, heads swivelled wherever they went. But even with Curtis, she remained enigmatic and aloof: “Marilyn was abstract. She didn’t read the papers. She didn’t watch newsreels. She was unrelated to what was going on in the world. Even as early as that, everyone around her was trying to get to her. But there was no way to get her. There was no way in.”
3) Monroe was an incredibly difficult person to work with, but she knew what worked and knew when it wasn’t working: “It was true. Marilyn had no peer at creating magic. She also had no concept of courtesy, responsibility, generosity, or any of the things you’d expect from a professional.”
4) During production, Monroe and Curtis resurrected their friendship. At her request, Curtis found her hotel room: “Of course I’d been with her all those years before. Now, on this night, in this hotel room, there was a feeling of two people who liked each other. And they decided that they wanted to spend the night together. It wasn’t complicated. I didn’t have to think about it in a complicated way. She made it simple.”
5) The huge success of the film took Curtis completely by surprise - particularly its success across cultural frontiers: “To give you an idea of the love this picture has engendered, I can tell you about the Moscow International Film Festival of 1963… I was taken to a huge auditorium… with folding chairs. That was the ‘theatre’… I climbed up this rickety ladder, all the way up, with nothing underneath me, and hung on and talked to this crowd of maybe two thousand people… That crowd caught every nuance of the movie. When he (the translator) translated the last line of dialogue - ‘Nobody’s perfect’ – the place fell apart… It was absolute madness. They loved it. And I loved it.” Jake Lowther
Some Like It Hot: Me, Marilyn and the Movie by Tony Curtis with Mark A Viera (Virgin Books) is published on 22 October.