Dolores comes into the room and complains to Sugar that she’s locked out of their room, and Sugar follows her out to help her. Now that they’re alone, Jerry scolds Joe for leading Sugar on, noting that he’s seen Joe “put some tricks on women, but this is without a doubt the trickiest, meanest and lowest…” Here Jerry is interrupted by the sight of Joe emerging from the tub, still in his “Junior” clothes, soaking wet and covered in bubbles. Joe walks towards Jerry and takes off his wig and grabs Jerry by the collar threateningly. Frightened of Joe’s wrath, Jerry takes back all the things he said as the telephone rings. Joe answers the phone, affecting the girlish voice of Josephine, and accepts a call from a ship that’s come ashore. It’s Osgood Fielding, who mistakes Josephine’s voice for Daphne’s, and refers to himself as “that naughty boy.” We see Osgood lounging outside and laughing to himself. When he realizes he isn’t speaking to “Daphne,” he tells Joe to give “Daphne” the message that he wants her to come to dinner on his yacht after their show that evening for a one-on-one dinner. Jerry is confused as Joe hangs up the telephone and informs him about Osgood’s plan. “Not tonight, Josephine!” Jerry exclaims.
The scene shifts to the performance that evening. Sugar Kane sings “I Wanna Be Loved By You” in a breathy voice in a crowded ballroom. Couples dance as she sings the romantic song. As the orchestra plays, Sugar looks around for “Junior” and seems disappointed not to see him anywhere. Elsewhere, Osgood waves to Jerry, and Joe urges Jerry to smile and wave back. “Give him the teeth, the whole personality,” Joe says. Jerry tries to brainstorm with Joe how he will be able to stay on shore and not forced to go out to Osgood’s boat alone, when the young bellboy brings an enormous bouquet of flowers onstage for Daphne, sent from Osgood. The bellboy then gives Joe a flower flirtatiously, but Joe tells him to “beat it.” As Sugar continues to sing, Joe pulls the flowers Osgood sent over towards himself and slips a note of his own into them. When Jerry protests, Joe tells him that he can have them back the next day.
The song ends and Sugar goes back to sit with Joe and Jerry, whispering to Joe that she doesn’t think Junior is going to show up after all. “Well, you know how those millionaires are,” says Joe, before showing her Jerry’s flowers and telling Sugar that they were sent for her. “It’s Shell Oil!” Sugar gasps, reading the card. The card goes on to say that Junior wants to pick her up on the pier for dinner on his yacht—“If my mother could see me now!” she says. “I hope my mother never finds out,” says Jerry as Osgood blows him another kiss. Sugar gets up, picks up her flowers and goes to meet Junior, Joe packing up his saxophone and rushing out to go to his room and change back into his Junior costume. After throwing on his costume in a flurry of excitement he puts on his coat and hat and climbs out the window, but has forgotten to remove the earrings he was wearing as Josephine.
We see Sugar running down to the pier to meet Junior, and Joe hops on a bicycle to catch up. Nearby, Osgood tries to convince Jerry to go out to his yacht with him, but Jerry doesn’t bite. Joe rides by on his bicycle, honking a small horn, and Jerry marvels at the fact that he actually managed to find a bicycle, before going back to awkward flirtatious small talk with Osgood, who calls him a “hot little firecracker.” Sugar runs towards the docks, with Joe close behind on the bicycle, his earrings dangling in the breeze. Having dropped his bicycle on the beach, Joe runs under the dock and hops in a small motorboat to make it look like he just arrived on land, waving up to Sugar, who runs towards him delightedly. When he puts on his eyeglasses, Joe feels the two earring dangling, and anxiously removes them before Sugar sees. As Sugar thanks him for the flowers, Joe struggles to turn on the motorboat and eventually gets it going, but gets it stuck in reverse gear. “I just got this motorboat, it’s an experimental model,” he says, and they ride the boat in reverse the whole way out to the yacht.
On the yacht, Joe tells Sugar that his family has three of these yachts and she marvels at its size. When she asks him which side is port and which is starboard, he tells her that it “depends on whether you’re coming or going.” He tries to explain, but knows nothing about boating, and they set out in search of the dinner arrangements on the boat. Sugar peers through a window and sees the dining table lit up for them. “It’s exquisite, like a floating mansion!” Sugar says, admiring the room. Her attention is drawn to a mounted swordfish on the wall, and when she asks what it is, Joe tells her that it’s “a member of the herring family,” completely misidentifying the large fish. He pours them both champagne and they sit, making awkward small talk about upper crust sports neither knows anything about. It then comes out that there is no one else on the boat, which startles Sugar for a moment, as she has never been out on a boat in the middle of the night alone with a man. Joe assures her that she has nothing to worry about, as women don’t do much for him, and he feels incapable of falling in love. He kisses her abruptly, before telling her that it made him feel nothing.
Sugar wants to know more, so asks Joe about his romantic past as he begins to serve their dinner of cold pheasant. He tells the following story: “It was my freshman year at Princeton. There was this girl. Her name was Nellie. Her father was the vice president of Hupmobile. She wore glasses, too. That summer we were at the Grand Canyon. We were on the highest ledge watching the sunset, when suddenly we got this impulse to kiss. l took off my glasses. She took off her glasses. l took a step toward her. She took a step toward me…” He insinuates that Nellie fell off the cliff, and Sugar is deeply disturbed. “Ever since then, no feelings, like my heart was shot full of novocaine,” Joe tells her, offering her some food. “Have you ever tried American girls?” Sugar tells him, kissing him, but he pretends to feel nothing. Lying on the couch, he tells her that he was a patient of Freud himself, and that he has tried everything, but nothing works. When Sugar tells him that there must be some girl who could make him feel love again, he tells her, “If I ever found the girl, I’d marry her just like that,” and Sugar asks to kiss him again.
They kiss intimately, but Joe tells her that he still feels nothing. Sugar rushes over to get some more champagne, turns down the lights and puts on some music in order to create a romantic atmosphere. They drink some more and Sugar tells Joe not to fight it, kissing him deeply as the music plays. He shakes his head and tells her that the kiss was “like smoking without inhaling,” to which she responds, “So inhale!” before kissing him yet again. The scene abruptly shifts and we see Jerry dancing with Osgood at the hotel. “Daphne, you’re leading again,” Osgood tells Jerry, and Jerry gives a deflated expression as they continue to dance. Back on the ship, Joe and Sugar continue to kiss, Joe asking Sugar to keep kissing him until he feels something.
The scene shifts again back to the hotel, where Jerry and Osgood are dancing a dramatic tango, each carrying a flower in their teeth. Back on the yacht, Joe tells Sugar that he is beginning to feel some loving feelings, the first that he has felt since the terrible accident. “They told me I was kaput, finished, all washed up, and here you are making a chump out of all those experts!” Joe tells Sugar, which delights her. The scene shifts rapidly back to the hotel; the dance floor has completely cleared out, but Osgood and Jerry continue to dance dramatically. Osgood holds a checkered tablecloth and wraps it around Jerry’s waist as they dance, before dipping him as the band lets out a triumphant “Ole!” Both Jerry and Osgood have adopted markedly androgynous personas, with Jerry relishes his role as the female dance partner, and Osgood having stuck a flower behind his ear.
We then see Joe and Sugar riding the small motorboat back to shore. It is early the following morning, and they nod and greet a drunken Osgood as he walks down the dock, taking their place in the motorboat and riding it out to his yacht. Joe escorts Sugar up the steps of the hotel, wishing her goodbye and kissing her passionately. Lush orchestral music plays as they kiss several more times, Sugar eventually running into the hotel. After waiting a moment, Joe climbs up a banister to sneak back into his room.
The film tells the story of two heterosexual men dressing up as women for the main purpose of running from a vengeful mob boss, a plot which is primed for broad comic strokes. Along the way, however, our two feckless heroes, Joe and Jerry, learn a lot about gender dynamics from their new perspectives as defenseless traveling women. This comes to bear most starkly in Osgood Fielding’s predatory interest in “Daphne.” After pinching her in the elevator, Osgood receives a swift slap in the face, but that does little to deter him. In fact, it only serves to encourage him to follow up later that afternoon and invite Jerry/Daphne to a solo dinner on his yacht. Upon hearing about the invitation, Jerry is appalled and flatly rejects the offer. When Osgood watches the band play from the audience, Joe urges Jerry to smile, to “give him the teeth, the whole personality.” Jerry must resort to feminine charms in order to make nice with the aggressive millionaire and figure out how to avoid being caught alone with him. Additionally, Joe is chased by a sexually aggressive prepubescent bellboy, with whom he must adopt an exceedingly defensive attitude. Thus Jerry and Joe are forced to see the world from a feminine perspective.
One of the ironies of Joe and Sugar’s romance is that each is pretending to be someone they are not. While Joe is engaged in a double-layered deception—not only is he not a millionaire, but he is also posing as Sugar’s female friend Josephine completely unbeknownst to her—Sugar tells several lies of her own. Having told Joe/Junior that she is a “Bryn Mawr girl,” Sugar wants to give the impression that she is an upper-class girl, not a simple girl from Ohio. On the yacht, each of the lovers put on pretenses of high society. “Dad’s more interested in railroads,” Sugar lies to him, hoping to impress him by suggesting that she is from a wealthy family. The comedy of this dynamic comes from the fact that neither of them knows much about being wealthy. Joe doesn’t know how to control a motorboat, but Sugar doesn’t mind at all. And when she asks him which side of the boat is port and which is starboard, he tells her that it depends on whether one is coming or going, proof that he knows nothing about yachting whatsoever. This hardly matters to Sugar Kane, who takes Junior at his every word. Little does she know that Junior is Josephine is Joe. Both of the versions of Joe that Sugar knows are complete fictions, and the personality Sugar affects when she is with Junior is also false. The result is a charming budding romance, in which the two lovers in question never speak to one another as their genuine selves, but each continually puts on airs of being someone they are not in order to impress the other.
In many ways, Some Like it Hot is about the ways that people are performing all the time, always stretching the truth and shaping themselves in order to create the desired response. The film sets up many unexpected and paradoxical personas, and shows the rather flimsy boundaries of identity. While Jerry is practical and put-upon when he is Jerry, his personality shifts when he is in drag, and he gets more in touch with his feminine side, playing with the women and getting in touch with a whackier sense of play. While Joe is the more macho of the two, his character of Josephine is effeminate and ladylike, and his character of Junior is proper and elegant, both far cries from his actual personality. Depending on the clothes one wears, the film suggests, one can become an entirely different person.
Joe uses his intimate knowledge of the qualities that attract Sugar to his advantage when he is playing Junior. Having acted as Sugar’s confidant when he was pretending to be Josephine, he knows that Sugar is looking for a gentle bespectacled millionaire, someone who she doesn’t have to worry will take advantage of her. Knowing this, he pretends not to catch Sugar’s drift when she expresses apprehensions about being on a ship alone with a man in the middle of the night. To her confession that she’s never been alone like this with a man, he tries to reassure her that the ship is very safe and well anchored. She corrects his misreading, telling him, “There are certain men that would try to take advantage of a situation like this.” To this, he gives her an extremely reassuring response, telling her that he is “harmless” and that women leave him “cold.” By telling Sugar that he is “harmless” and that he does not possess the dangerous virility that she fears, Joe thinks that he will be better able to seduce her. And he’s right; his hard-to-get act only entices Sugar more. She becomes all the more invested in winning him over.
In contrast to Joe’s character of Junior, a character rendered nearly asexual by his own wealth and privilege, Osgood, an actual millionaire, is not refined in the slightest, and his libido has hardly been diminished by his net worth. While “Junior” assures Sugar that she need not worry about her safety on the boat, Jerry feared what might happen to him if he went out on Osgood’s yacht alone. Osgood certainly likes it hot, disproving Sugar’s theory that all bespectacled millionaires are harmless unthreatening men. Some of the film’s more comedic moments come from his character, relentlessly putting the moves on a wilting and harried “Daphne.” As they dance around the ballroom, they are a delightfully mismatched couple, Jerry’s “Daphne” towering over the tiny Osgood, with a deadpan expression on his/her face. “Daphne, you’re leading again,” Osgood says to Jerry, who doesn’t seem to care. In this section of the film, we begin to see the two couples—Joe and Sugar, Jerry and Osgood—as comic foils for one another.