Wednesday 28 September 2011

Watching Films Outside Is The New Black

Last Friday evening I hauled my ass all the way to London's delightful Fulham Palace to see an outdoor screening of Some Like It Hot.
I don't know about the rest of the country but you can't walk ten paces in London during the summer without tripping over an outdoor screening of something or other. They're everywhere. I've managed to get to a pathetically embarrassing four this year - the Die Hard / Attack The Block double bill at Somerset House, The General at Canary Wharf, Rocky on the roof of the Queen Of Hoxton pub and Some Like It Hot.

Given the right conditions - an absence of rain, at least a bottle of wine per person and a good crowd - these screenings can turn a good film into a great experience. Discovering The General at The Scoop a few years ago, and watching open-air singalongs like Moulin Rouge!, Singin' In The Rain (in the rain) and even Mamma Mia! have been some of the best nights out I've ever had in the capital. In fact I was saddened to discover recently that watching Mamma Mia! at home with less than a bottle of wine inside you is the movie equivalent of going to bed drunk with Amanda Seyfried and waking up in the morning to find you've actually slept with Stellan SkarsgĂ„rd.
Conditions were almost perfect at Fulham Palace (the audience could have been a bit more enthusiastic: by and large they looked like they were a bit scared to have left the comfort of Waitrose) and The Nomad, who put the screening on, did a fine job with the extracurricular entertainment even though none of it was of any use to me. There was a live jazz band (I hate jazz), a man shining shoes for free (I am rarely seen without trainers) and a small photo studio where you could dress up like a 1920s flapper and have your picture taken (I'm not a transvestite).
Picture and sound quality were tip-top - not an easy thing to get right outdoors - and there was plenty of room to spread out; in fact the only thing missing was my own personal toilet, as it's impossible to duck out of Some Like It Hot without missing a few pages of some of the greatest dialogue ever written for the screen.

But it was Billy Wilder's masterpiece that made the evening such a joy. It's at least twenty years since I last saw Some Like It Hot, and its brilliance went straight over my stupid spotty-faced head then. This time I boggled at the perfection of Wilder's compositions, literally almost wet myself at every zinger that flew out of the script, fell in love with Marilyn Monroe, delighted in the company of Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis and probably actually pissed myself at Curtis' Cary Grant impression ("Who talks like that?").
I'd like to think that Some Like It Hot stands up to repeat viewings better than Mamma Mia!, but if not I'll be only too happy to find it at another outdoor screening next year and enjoy another bladder-threatening evening of ridiculous fun.


  1. Agreed. 'Some Like It Hot' is 52 years old and still one of the best movies of all time and remains so even when shown on an insect covered screen on a Palace lawn or on the old 405 line momochrome TV or in the most insulting circumstance of all on a pathetic few inches of image on an i-phone on a crowded train. Marilyn Monroe was so gorgeous that her acting was never rated as highly as it should have been. I loved it when as Sugar she says "Real diamonds. They must be worth their weight in gold."

  2. I believe the line is: "And where did you get that phoney accent? Nobody talks like that!"

    If I'm wrong, feel free to piss yourself laughing on my head.

  3. Are you correcting me? I'll do more than a number one on you next time we meet.

  4. Now you know why I ignored you this morning.

  5. A couple of months back I was drunk, staring at the TV. Was just about to go to bed. It was about 5 am. Some Like it Hot came on the telly. It seemed like such a bizarre thing to be on at that time in the morning. I thought I would watch just a bit of it. At least until Marilyn appeared. I ended up watching the whole fucking thing. THAT'S how good it is.