The Austin Chronicle

Let Me Paint You a Picture

Movies were made to be shared

By Robert Faires, May 20, 2011, Screens

Multisensory Cinema

The movie house had no roof. An inky night sky and stars were all that hung above us and the flickering shades of Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis as they skirted being murdered by the mob by slipping into skirts and slipping out of Chicago with an all-girl band. Their train was bound for Miami, a locale that, like so many things in Billy Wilder's deliriously gender-bending comedy, is not what it appears to be. San Diego stands in for Magic City onscreen, with the picture's opulent resort "played" by the West Coast city's grand and much-beloved Hotel del Coronado. That's where we were – well, on the same island as the Hotel Del, at least – attending an outdoor screening of Some Like It Hot. Nowadays, the Alamo Drafthouse's Rolling Roadshow has spoiled Austinites for watching movies in natural settings, but in the early Nineties in Southern California, such screenings were relatively rare, and the chance to see Curtis, Lemmon, and an almost unbearably ripe Marilyn Monroe trip across the sand so close to us with the Pacific breeze blowing across us and filling our noses with salty air was a novelty – and one that forever changed the relationship my wife, Barbara, and I had with the film. When I see it now, I still feel a phantom wind off the water that chills me (in a good way, but man, was it cold that night on Coronado). Still, it isn't just the sensory memories that affect us. We were recent transplants to San Diego, having left Austin so I might take a job writing grants for the La Jolla Playhouse, and that was a big move for us as a young married couple. Unlike the movie's heroes in drag, we weren't running away from something, but we were on what proved to be as big an adventure as theirs in the film. At the Playhouse, we saw Pete Townshend transform the Who's Tommy into a Broadway musical. Barbara was cast in an amazing professional production of The Women at San Diego Repertory Theatre. Our daughter Rosalind was born in San Diego. We ended up staying there only two years and then returned to Austin, where we pretty much picked up our lives where we'd left them. But seeing Some Like It Hot takes us to San Diego both visually and emotionally. We go back to that place of sunshine and surf, of possibility and transformation, of new beginnings. We are, as Sugar, strumming her uke, breathily intones, "runnin' wild, mighty bold."

Some Like It Hot screens Monday, Aug. 29, 9:30pm, and Tuesday, Aug. 30, 7pm.

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