by Evyania Constant
We open this scene on a party room filled with people as Sugar Kane sings her famous I Wanna Be Loved by You, on stage. Her voice rings delicately about the venue and seductively penetrates the ears of every man in the room. She sways to the tune, eyelids half shut in a dreamy daze, smiling enticingly at her captivated audience. We then pan over to Joe and Jerry’s female alter egos, Josephine and Daphne, playing the fiddle and saxophone. Osgood Fielding III quickly interrupts their concentration, courting Daphne from across the room. As the two bicker about Daphne’s relationship with him, the young hotel worker brings a massive bouquet of flowers from Osgood as a gift, right before making another pass at Josephine. However, Josephine snags the bouquet for her own purposes and aggressively sends the boy away. The focus is then returned to Sugar, who is just reaching the end of her ballad. She finishes in a graceful lure, leaving the audience with her classic beauty.
This classic comedy starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon was fated to be a success by its cast alone. As a comedy, there are many moments that are memorable in their flawless ability to make us laugh: Joe and Jerry’s female alter egos, their captivation by Sugar (though they cannot act on it), and essentially every other aspect of the movie. However, though this film is filled with numerous hilarious scenes which are very famous and important to it as a whole, this moment with Sugar singing and the men playing their instruments seems to stand out as one of the most iconic. So, what is it about this specific scene that catches our eye?
Though a bit overtaken by Sugar’s song, this scene provides us with a dose of comedy. By this point we have settled into the movie and have a solid understanding of Joe and Jerry as women- which makes their interactions with each other and other people all the more humorous. Here, we see Osgood fawning over “Daphne,” who is deeply repulsed and almost offended by him. But, she must act as sweet and flattered as she can fathom. Their facial expressions and gestures toward each other are utterly hilarious, as Osgood has no idea of Daphne’s true identity. We also get to see the hotel boy hitting on Josephine yet again, which adds to the humor of this scene. However, we cannot forget what really makes this scene special. It both begins and ends with the same focus: Sugar Kane.
Here, we clearly see all of Sugar’s characteristics: she is fun, elegant, a bit quirky, and of course, devastatingly sexy. Everything about her character in this scene is transparent. Her mannerisms (the slight shimmies, pouting lips), evidently reveal her sex appeal, while the little squeaks in her voice and light-hearted smiles show her sweet side. Everything from the way she holds herself, to her facial expressions, and lyrics of the song she is singing, show us something about her character: “I want to be loved by you, just you, and nobody else but you.” Sugar Kane is a free-spirited, sensual woman with one thing certain- the desire to have fun, and be loved. Thus, this scene sticks to us in a way that no other one in the film does: we get a few laughs, and also, a real taste of Sugar.
However, Sugar’s appeal does not only live within the lines of her character. It also heavily relies on the woman who plays her and that is part of the reason this scene is still so relevant today. Marilyn Monroe was America’s biggest sex symbol of the 50’s and 60’s, and perhaps, still is today. She is the epitome of beauty and sexuality, and is one of the most famous actresses to ever live. No other woman could bring life to Sugar Kane’s character like Marilyn could, and she proves that in this scene. Here we see not only the beauty of Sugar, but the sexuality which Marilyn embodied in her Hollywood lifestyle.
Therefore, we are not only watching Sugar in this scene. We are also viewing Marilyn within her. In this moment, Marilyn owns the screen: she is so delicately perfect that we cannot take our eyes off of her. This scene displays what Marilyn Monroe is all about: she is a trophy of femininity; a vessel of grace and class, yet still has a certain silliness and humor to her. However, we cannot forget that Marilyn herself is a character invented by Hollywood- a character played by Norma Jean Baker. Thus, every character Marilyn plays on screen, she is playing within context of her real-life character. This scene encapsulates this concept effortlessly: we see Sugar’s character within the context of the movie, but we also see Marilyn’s beauty and sexuality. Thus, this moment has lasted as both a symbol of the movie, and of Marilyn’s legend.