In 1955 Billy Wilder said, “I’ll never work with Monroe again,” after dealing with the screen star’s unpredictability and lateness on the set of The Seven Year Itch. But just four years later, the idea of having the ultimate bombshell in his next film was too tempting to resist. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis had already signed on, and the project was launched. Three-quarters of Some Like It Hot feature the Hotel del Coronado, across the bay from San Diego. The extravagant oceanfront hotel hadn’t changed in thirty years, and it immediately enchanted Wilder.
Situated at the end of Orange Avenue, “The Del” is unmistakable. A fabulous restoration has not changed the legendary Victorian resort-style hotel, with its wood paneling, cane furniture, and walls covered with dusky pink material. Around the hotel, the bays, Spanish missions, golf courses and sun-drenched beaches stretch out for miles. Surfers can head to La Jolla, while families flock to Sea World, twenty minutes away. Those who prefer to linger in the atmosphere of the movie can book themselves into the hotel and recreate the famous scene in Lemmon and Curtis’s room when Monroe is feverishly rummaging through a chest of drawers, asking, “Where’s that bourbon?” The scene required fifty-nine takes. Finally Wilder stuck pieces of paper in all the drawers on which he had written, “Where’s that bourbon?”