Last night Jett told me he recently re-watched Some Like It Hot (having seen it many times), and it suddenly hit him that (a) Tony Curtis‘s Joe character is a truly odious womanizer and (b) he doesn’t like him very much, and that Joe’s ugliness colored Jett’s basic attitude about the film.

I found this a familiar and even vaguely amusing viewpoint as this is a typical Millennial thing (moral condemnation + faint notions of cancelling directed toward a self-absorbed prick who wouldn’t fit into today’s realm).

My response: “But that’s the point of the character. Joe is ‘a liar and a phony’, as he admits to Marilyn Monroe‘s Sugar at the very end, but he gradually develops empathy and a conscience after putting on a wig and falsies and wearing a dress and thereby realizing ‘how the other half lives.’

“Joe feels so badly about lying to Sugar (i.e., pretending to be a Shell Oil heir) and then breaking her heart when he and Jack Lemmon‘s Jerry are forced to go on the lam in order to avoid Spats Columbo and his gang that he gives her the only item of value between them — a diamond bracelet that Joe E. Brown‘s Osgood Fielding had given Lemmon’s ‘Daphne’ (and which Joe has technically stolen).

“This is part of his third-act redemption,” I went on. “This plus Joe’s admitting to Sugar that he’s the same kind of thoughtless cad she’s been emotionally bruised by so often.

“Whenever a flawed movie character lets his guard down and admits to a significant moral failing, he’s taken a slight but significant step toward becoming a better human being.”

Example: The last-minute emotional breakthrough experienced by Anthony Quinn’s Zampano in Federico Fellini’s La Strada. A terrible brute throughout the whole film but at the very last minute he realizes who and what he is. His weeping on the beach symbolizes a kind of redemption. Small but noteworthy.