I love movies where the entire cast is so strong that virtually every speaking character is extremely memorable. It doesn’t matter if it’s a larger supporting role or one with only a few lines, just as long as it’s enough to leave a lasting impression. Some Like it Hot is definitely one of those movies. Stealing attention away from the likes of Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and Marilyn Monroe was no easy task, but these actors did a remarkable job of it.
Joan Shawlee is a character actress I wish was better remembered today. In addition to her role as Sweet Sue in Some Like it Hot, she also had parts in The Apartment and Irma La Douce and appeared on television shows such as Adam-12, Emergency!, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Starsky and Hutch. As Sweet Sue, Shawlee struck a perfect balance of being brash yet likable. But most importantly, she was always hilarious.
Al Breneman only had a few scenes as a hotel bellhop, but he sure knew how to quickly establish himself as the Eddie Haskell of the Seminole-Ritz. The way he says, “That’s the way I like ’em — big and sassy!” and snaps the master key hanging around his neck will never stop being hilarious to me.
Beverly Wills is probably best remembered as Delores, the trombone player with a fondness for a jokes about one-legged jockeys. She’s another actor who expertly made a lasting impression with only a few lines. Her delivery is just so spot on.
But as amazing as all the supporting actors are in Some Like it Hot, Joe E. Brown is the one who steals the most scenes. I simply can’t imagine anyone who could have played Osgood Fielding any better than Joe E. Brown. He was a master of pulling faces. He made me laugh in just about every scene he was in and he often did it without saying a word; it’s all about the facial expressions. Brown also brought a wonderfully daffy quality to his character and that made him one of the funnest characters in the movie. Zowie!