Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Film | The Seven Year Itch

I have been collecting classic films for about 12 years now but I will always remember my first 'classic purchase' being the Marilyn Monroe Diamond Collection. The sets includes great movies like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How To Marry A Millionaire. Another movie in that set I finally got around to watching again [after almost 6 years] is The Seven Year Itch. There are very few modern movies that I can watch again and again and still find it as fresh as the first time I viewed it. I am always surprised [even though by now I shouldn't be] most classic films I enjoy the tenth time just as much as the first. The Seven Year Itch definitely is one of those films.

This 1955 Billy Wilder film starring Tom Ewell and Marilyn Monroe had me entertained from start to finish. The plot is fairly simple... a married man [Tom Ewell] must deal with his paranoid driven fantasies about 'terrorizing' women after sending his family north for the summer. He finds himself trying to prove to his wife how attractive he is to women, even though she isn't there. And he seems to be doing fine with his wife's request that he not drink or smoke until he meets his new upstairs neighbor, a blonde model (Marilyn Monroe) who just wants a cool place to sleep at night.

We never learn the girl's name, but we do learn a few other things...
- when it's warm outside you can stick your undies in the ice box to stay cool
- You can tell when music is Classical because there is no vocal
- Dipping potato chips into champagne is real crazy
- A stairway to nowhere is just elegant

- You don't have to worry about a married man asking you to marry him because he is already married

I have only seen Tom Ewell in this film and The Girl Can't Help It, but he has become one of my favorite character actors. He goes from paranoid to happy effortlessly. You especially notice his fine acting toward the end of the film where he is paranoid his wife is on her way home and would find The Girl in the shower to happily making cinnamon toast in a split second. A very fine actor and he really does make this movie what it is. I can't imagine anyone else playing Sherman.

This film is of course where we get the infamous skirt blowing scene. If someone knows nothing else about classic films, they know about Marilyn Monroe's skirt blowing up as she steps over the subway grate. This is another one of those things where the publicity for a movie comes from such a small part of the actual film. I discussed this in the post about Suddenly, Last Summer. There was such chaos and hooplah made about this that when you see the actual scene in the film you are left underwhelmed. You never get to see a full shot of the skirt blowing up. Once The Production Code got its hands on the scene, we are left with just a shot of her legs and half of the dialogue on the cutting room floor. The great thing about this picture is that it doesn't even need all of that, it would be just as great without that scene. 

We already know how the original subway scene was cut to almost nothing, but there were other cuts from the final film. There was another fantasy scene where The Girl comes down acting as gangster's mole [played like Mae West] and she and the janitor were going to blackmail Sherman. It was said by Billy Wilder that Marilyn couldn't pull off Mae's hard-boiled style and axed the scene. In some of the promotional shots for the film Marilyn is seen with Ewell wearing shorts and a tied up top, but that outfit never made it into the film. I couldn't find any information about this, but I assume this was the original outfit for the scene where she wears the pink pants/blouse. I am pretty sure the Production Code wouldn't have allowed this outfit to be worn in the film. The bathtub scene where The Girl is telling the plumber about being terrorized by Sherman was also cut in half. In the original scene the plumber is so shocked by the story that he drops his wrench in the water and reaches in to get it. Obviously the movies didn't need these scenes, but I always find it fun to know what could have been.

Bottom line... very funny movie. If you haven't seen it yet, you are missing out.


  1. Actually I do that undies in ice box thing quite a lot.. It's really amazing.. ;")

    That potato chips/ champagne thing.. tested it - found it awful.. Maybe because I am neither a fan of chips nor champagne..

    Tom Ewell is great! I also love him in THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT and ADAM'S RIP. ..

    Thank you for this marvellous post, Craig! (I am curious about what will be next..)

  2. Blimey!! Just noticed that my blog is on your Vintage Blog Roll! Wow - that's sooo cool!! Thank you!!!

  3. I can not see anyone else in Marilyn Monroe's part in the movie, she was perfect. I agree.. a must see film, if you are a fan of the amazing Marilyn Monroe.