Seven Year Itch, The (1955)

“I think it’s wonderful that you’re married! I think it’s just elegant!”

Synopsis:
A married advertising executive (Tom Ewell) whose wife (Evelyn Keyes) and son (Butch Bernard) are away for the summer lusts after his voluptuous, seemingly available neighbor (Marilyn Monroe).

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this once-controversial Marilyn Monroe comedy is “much overrated, too talky and stagy, and only occasionally funny” — not to mention horribly dated. Tom Ewell’s “super-neurotic character” is simply annoying; his few redeeming moments occur during the ludicrous yet amusing fantasy sequences when he imagines himself as an irresistible lover. The real reason to watch this movie, naturally, is Monroe herself, who is in rare form playing a wide-eyed innocent with smoldering sex appeal. Unfortunately, fans will be disappointed to note that the famous “subway scene” doesn’t actually include the most well-known (full-body) shots of Monroe.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Marilyn Monroe’s sensual, comedic performance as Ewell’s object of desire
    Monroe
  • Monroe famously standing over a subway grating and allowing the wind to blow her dress up
    Subway
  • Ewell’s hilariously ridiculous fantasies
    Fantasy

Must See?
Yes. Though it hasn’t entirely stood the test of time, this movie nonetheless remains must-see viewing for all film fanatics.

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One Response to “Seven Year Itch, The (1955)”

  1. A must, of course.

    I can’t say this is among my favorite films but, having just watched it again, I find I can’t agree with Peary’s general assessment – nor do I find it simply dated; rather, I see it as very much of its time but also relevant (the title alone reveals a still – and perhaps always – common condition).

    My main gripe about the film is the set-up: it takes too friggin’ long!!! Like about 30 minutes! (Oh, sure, we see Marilyn in that time, but briefly.) Things don’t really kick into gear until Ewell’s near-miss of the ‘deadly’ tomato plant!

    But, after that, all’s pretty much well. Pretty much. Because my second gripe is that – as most audiences will agree – we keep wanting this to be a film about Marilyn! We keep wanting it to be from the viewpoint of the character with the fantasy-figure name: ‘The Girl’. But, alas, the title also tells us the guy will be front-and-center.

    I don’t particularly find Ewell annoying – and he does get some fairly funny bits. One fave is between him and Oskar Homolka as Dr. Brubaker:

    Ewell: Tell me, doctor, are you very expensive?
    Homolka: Very.
    Ewell: I’m sure you occasionally make exceptions.
    Homolka: Never.
    Ewell: I mean, once in a while, a case must come along that really interests you.
    Homolka: At $50 an hour, all my cases interest me.

    And the cast, in general, has been gleefully encouraged by director Wilder to be – and have fun being – as goofy as possible: esp. fun in that regard are Evelyn Keyes (Helen), Robert Strauss (Mr. Kruhulik), and Carolyn Jones (Miss Finch, fantasy night nurse).

    But, Marilyn is the one that we mostly want here. She’s nothing short of mesmerizing. Who else could possibly have done this part justice, at least on-screen? (The role was originated on Broadway by Vanessa Brown – I know: who? Details at IMDb.com.) Her performance gives new, indescribable meaning to ‘dumb blonde’. And her line readings never fail to work on repeat viewings. Watch closely what she does with:

    “Maybe if I took the little fan – put it in the icebox – and left the icebox door open – then left the bedroom door open and soaked the sheets and pillow case in ice water… No…it’s too icky!”

    Or this:

    “I think it’s just elegant to have an imagination. I just have no imagination at all. I have lots of other things. But I have no imagination.”

    She also has a nifty little monologue near the end in which she explains what girls really fall for.

    My absolute fave MM bit has to be her first fantasy sequence – coming down the hallway stairs outside Ewell’s apartment, dressed to kill, standing alluringly in the doorway as the door disappears. Her precise timing in this scene is inspired. And I love the way she says, “Rachmaninoff!”

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