Some Still Like it Hot
It's hard to believe it's 50 years since Some Like It Hot was released. Voted the number one comedy of all time by the American Film Institute, the movie remains a favorite among fans and critics alike. Its success may be thanks to director (Billy Wilder), or its star line-up (Marilyn Monroe, alongside cross-dressing Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon), but I suspect its star location also helped enormously. And this September, Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, or The Del as its affectionately known, is celebrating.
The Del was chosen to play the part of a Prohibition-era resort in Florida. According to Wilder, 'We looked far and wide, but this was the only place we could find that hadn’t changed in thirty years. People who have never seen this beautiful hotel will never believe we didn’t make these scenes on a movie lot. It’s like the past come to life.'
When Miami mayor Robert King High heard that The Del was chosen, he reportedly said it was 'a sacrilege'. Coronado’s mayor wired back saying, 'Some like it hot, but not as hot as Miami in September.' He also cited Florida’s gnats, mosquitoes and hurricanes – pests rarely to be found in Coronado.
While only exterior shots were filmed at hotel, the movie offers a chance to see features of the hotel which are no longer there. For example, the resort originally sported two front entrances: a combined men’s and women’s entrance, as well as a separate entrance for 'unaccompanied' women. Only one remains today.
Apparently one critic called The Del 'an uproariously improbable set'. And, in a way, it's not surprising. The hotel, built in 1888 in Queen Anne Revival style, is opulent, over-the-top, excessive. Its white clapboard verandas and red turrets sprawl across the beach in an almost improbable way, and it's not to everyone's taste. But I love it and have hankered after staying there since I first swept across the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge onto Coronado Island 13 years ago. I'm still saving my pennies.
The Del is hosting a 'Some Like It Hot Weekend Celebration' from September 18-20, with guests including Tony Curtis himself. That may be just the excuse I need. RM
Images: courtesy of Hotel del Coronado