I think I have seen Billy Wilder's wonderful comic film, "Some Like It Hot," about a hundred times. You'll remember it was the movie with Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe, about Chicago in its mobster days. A classic film, it is perhaps the best comedy movie ever made. I was privileged to produce the last movie which Mr. Wilder directed, a little-seen gem called "Buddy, Buddy," with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon. It came out at Christmas-time 1981 with two dozen other movies and got lost in the boxoffice rush as the failing MGM studio did not have the funds to promote it properly (or at all.). But the year which I spent with the gentleman director was probably the best professional experience of my long life. Driving to the set with him every day, inhaling the smoke from his Cuban cigar as he told me stories of the old Hollywood, what could have been better? We remained friends and neighbors until he died, and once a week we religiously had lunch at Kate Mantilini, both ordering his favorite dish of scrambled eggs and brains sautéed in brown butter. (The day he died they took it off the menu. That must be why they just closed.) Yes, Billy was certainly the most sophisticated, charming and decent man ever to inhabit this idiosyncratic community.
So when Sam Jagger, Managing Director of the Mr C Beverly Hills Hotel, told me about his every-other-Tuesday night screenings this summer at his hotel pool of classic movies, I blithely, bitchedly replied, "I'll go when you show one of my films." But Sam, the polite guy that he is, persisted in his pitch: "An evening of dinner, cocktails, popcorn, film and fun...what else have you got to do that is better? You can order your favorite Cipriani dishes from the expanded pool menu, our pool door opens at 7 pm, the movie starts promptly at 8:30 pm, so you should arrive early to reserve seats on a comfortable lounge chair or a day bed." At that moment we were standing around his hotel's pool attending a "Champagne and Oyster" repast, with dozens of attractive young people and a scattering of celebs on a starry Tuesday night in mid-July. And then I made the mistake of asking what movie he was showing on Tuesday, July 29th, and he said, "Some Like It Hot," and I was hooked. Yes, I would like to see it one more time....so I'll get there early, enjoy some Peroni Nastro Azzurro, and see the masterpiece all over again. (Remember the last line of the movie? When Jack removes his wig tells Osgood (Joe E. Brown) that "I am a man,", and the broad-mouthed comedian smiles and says, "Well, nobody is perfect.")
You should know by now that Mr C stands for Cipriani, the famous Italian family whose original boss founded Harry's Bar in Venice. Yes, I do have many memories of nights spent there....once watching Guiseppe (Harry) Cipriani Sr. entertaining the beautiful Gina Lollobrigida as I shyly watched from a corner table. He was probably telling her how he 'invented' the signature Bellini of peach nectar and champagne. It was the two fourth-generation Cipriano sons, Ignazio abd Maggio, who opened this wonderful European-style hotel in 2011, combining Italian elegance with California chic, on the corner of Beverlywill and Pico Blvd. With 137 guestrooms including 12 suites, each with its own balcony, it is the first of a new brand for them. I happen to love the elegant, low-key and sophisticated dining room here, and sent my last birthday celebrating there with a group of my friends and family on their pasta, seafood and wine. They have a series of wine dinners upcoming, including a Clos Pepe one on Wednesday, August 13th. There always seems to be live music at the hot Lobby Bar, and last weekend the Sunday Mr C Yacht Club brunch poolside was a pleasant interlude at a cabana a friend had rented.
So comes Tuesday night, the 29th, I will be ensconced in a lounge chair at the Mr C Beverly Hills pool, Bellini in one hand, a bag of Italian popcorn in the other, waiting for Marilyn Monroe to wiggle her way through that Chicago train station as the two stars, dressed as women to escape the mob, join me -- and you, I hope-- watching in awe.
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