The first in TFR’s Lockdown Recap series, capturing our quarantine viewing habits and the changing nature of cinema.
Over lockdown many of us turned to films from our childhood as a source of comfort. We asked our contributors to write about their much-loved films that have stood the test of time.
Some Like It Hot
Written by Katie Lynch
Over the last few weeks, I pulled up the old reliable, Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959), seeking comfort in a childhood favourite to fill the coronavirus-shaped hole in my heart. Little Me would watch Some Like It Hot every Christmas, plus the occasional in-between viewing during the year. Little Me loved this hilarious black-and-white romp where the heroes cross-dressed, gangsters jumped out of giant cakes, and the legendary Marilyn Monroe flirted with everybody. Little Me did not, however, realise how horny this film truly is.
Tony Curtis’s character is certainly horny. His nefarious schemes and ridiculous Cary Grant impression lands him in the privileged position of Monroe’s arms. The two treat us to a heart-warming chemistry built on lies and deceit, but nothing beats the chemistry between Monroe and the camera itself. From the moment she slinks by Jack Lemmon’s character for the first time, “boi-oi-oi-oing” is pretty much a constant state of being for everyone involved. There is a reason she is so iconic, and that is her deep understanding of sex appeal and its relationship to the camera. Watching her as a child was mesmerising and exciting, and as an adult the experience has only been magnified. She elevates the film, providing its most memorable performance, and makes everyone question their sexuality along the way.
Speaking of which, Jack Lemmon’s character provides us with a storyline which captured my tiny heart as a child. Disguised as a woman, he becomes involved, at first reluctantly, with a male millionaire, but as the film goes on, he appears to be more and more smitten with the man – he even agrees to marry him. Of course, given the time and the Hays Code, queerness could be read as the butt of the joke, but with the famous last line of the movie, it is a joke that queer people, including my little self, can be in on at least a little bit.
A Cinderella Story
Written by Kate L Ryan
An outcast is drawn into a secret relationship with her school’s star athlete, who dreams of being a writer. They form a bond that cannot be severed by social status, uncompassionate parents, and the pressures of trying to get into a good college. No, this isn’t that sultry summer hit, Normal People, but the iconic film of my childhood, A Cinderella Story (Mark Rosman, 2004). Is this a well-directed examination of intimacy and connection? No, obviously not. But it is enjoyable trash that you can watch with younger sisters without worrying about mentally scarring them.
Hilary Duff plays Sam, the titular Cinderella. After the death of her father, Sam spends a miserable existence working for her pink-obsessed stepmother (Jennifer Coolidge, the best performance of this film). Sam’s fairytale wish is to go to Princeton. Why Princeton? Because that’s “where the princes go”. She starts an anonymous email relationship with school quarterback Austin Ames (Chad Michael Murray). He’s your basic high school heartthrob but he quotes Tennyson in between passing back and forth an American football during deep, meaningful convos with his bros. After he invites her to meet him at the homecoming ball, the modernised fairy tale ensues.
This film isn’t particularly good but it was the first film I ever saw at the cinema. I watched it over and over again on VCR until I grew up and became too good for fluffy teen rom-coms. When I rewatched it for corona comfort, I found myself able to recite the lines and it will always hold a place in my cold, cynical heart. Despite how cool we all think we are, each of us has an objectively uncool film that brings us back to a time before we cared about good taste, and this is mine.