The Seven Year Itch
It TICKLES and TANTALIZES! - The funniest comedy since laughter began!
With his family away for their annual summer holiday, Richard Sherman decides he has the opportunity to live a bachelor's life. The beautiful but ditzy blonde from the apartment above catches his eye and they soon start spending time together - maybe a little too much time!
Did Billy Wilder know, when setting out to make "The Seven Year Itch," that he'd end up with a movie this creepy? I came into it expecting something light-hearted and with just enough sexual innuendo to allow Marilyn Monroe to become MARILYN. What I got was a movie where every male character is driven bat-shit crazy by lust as Monroe sits idly by orchestrating everything like a blonde Prospero.
Yeah, I'm pretty sure that Wilder knew what he was doing. Just look at Tom Ewell, the male lead whose steadfast fidelity to his wife is tested by the knockout upstairs. Everything about him is really, really off-putting: his hang-dog expression, his vocal mannerisms, his disturbingly detailed fantasies, or the way…
Tom MacKenzie: «What blonde in the kitchen?»
Richard Sherman: «Wouldn't you like to know! Maybe it's Marilyn Monroe!»
The blu-ray arrived in my mail a few days back, so I decided to give it a rewatch.
This was never among my favorite Wilders, mainly because of one single element; Tommy Ewell's narration. Sometimes voice-over can really destroy a film, it would be taking it too far to say that's the case here. But Wilder (and Axelrod) decided in this script to let the narration come from the lead character. And, simply, it doesn't work. When Ewell is with another character, be it Marilyn Monroe or for instance in the wonderful scene with the psychiatrist (Oskar Homolka), the dialogue flows like…
Monroe's performance is timeless, but little else in this middling Wilder comedy has aged well: Ewell's chattering narration, the scenario's moral murkiness, the Indian prologue and the stagey supporting turns are all bigger sticking points now than you imagine they might have been 50 years ago. But still, it has *that* girl, in *that* dress, standing over *that* vent, so it gets a pass.
No one's saying "The Seven Year Itch" is Billy Wilder's best film -- it's too on-the-noise -- but man is it ever fun. Just a good time of a movie, rip-snortingly Wilder. As for Marilyn I think her career bests are in "Some Like It Hot" and "The Misfits", but she does solid work here playing into type. And I actually thought Tom Ewell was pretty great in the lead. Dunno how well Walter Matthau would have fit into the role, but Ewell lends sex-starved Richard Sherman a neurotic intensity -- less Woody Allen stutter than Jack Lemmon egotism -- as opposed to someone like Matthau's reclined droll. All in all a totally successful comedy, the kind of play-turned-movie that's lost none of its stride.
I watched this for the first time and I have one thing to say about it:
Marilyn, I love you!
I only watched about 30 minutes of this before the soliloquy style became too offensive. Sadly, that means that Marilyn barely had a chance to appear. Maybe when I'm in a more charitable mood, I'll attempt to watch it again.
Possibly this film deserves a bit more latitude than I've given it, since the director has clearly taken some bold risks with unconventional techniques both in acting style and cinematography. It has a "zany" vibe right from the start. Most of these risks end up being distracting and even irritating.
Certainly, this is not a "timeless" film, as one reviewer has stated. The set and actors are very theatrically staged, and the 1950s trappings are intrusively obvious, from the unrealistic behaviour of the pastel-clad extras to the flagrant treatment of women and cigarettes as sex objects.
Film #4 of The December Challenge II
The Seven Year Itch is a delicate comedy-romance from Billy Wilder that tells the story of a man who gets tempted by his beautiful neighbor while his wife and son are on vacation. I would usually find myself liking a film that has strong acting and writing to drive itself fluently, but unfortunately, I found nothing in this film that I could admire or even remotely enjoy.
The acting in this film is fantastic. Tom Ewell is hilarious, even when he doesn't intend to be. Marilyn Monroe is breathtakingly gorgeous which saying that is pretty much stating the obvious. There's lots of great dialogue between the two characters, as well as Tom Ewell's…
My favorite Wilder film, full of humor that holds up very well. A man's wife goes away on a trip, and while he always intends to remain faithful, he didn't account for Marilyn Monroe moving into the apartment above him. Made all the more funny because she is completely oblivious to his attempts to court her. Probably the best performance I've seen by Monroe - it suits her wonderfully.
Was a pretty charming little film that showed the absolute neuroses of a middle aged married man with an over active imagination. It was a pleasant little film and surprisingly not as sexist as I thought a film like this from the 50s would have been.
I'd list it as more of a pleasant or quaint film more than a laugh-out-loud comedy, though.
Aw, not me, not me. And I'm not gunna smoke either.
While I would consider myself a big Billy Wilder fan, I was surprised to find The Seven Year Itch (1955), an adaptation of a play by George Axelrod, to be rather slight. The Seven Year Itch is probably less remembered for Wilder than it was for Marilyn Monroe and the famous scene with the subway breeze and a white dress. Like most classic scenes it was briefer and less salacious in reality than it was in the public consciousness because there were more in the promotional photos than the film. In a moment of incredible irony, Wilder parodies the would-be sexy beach scene in From Here to Eternity (1953)…
The film succeeds mainly because of Marilyn Monroe's obvious charisma and appeal - she really shines in this as the dizzy, curvy blonde upstairs.
Tom Ewell has been married seven years and has seen his wife and son away for the summer - he determines not to smoke, not to drink, and not to chase women. The moment Monroe wiggles up those stairs all that goes out of the window and he starts fantasising about the new arrival.
There are a lot of funny situations and you're never quite sure what it in Ewell's head and what is real (well, I wasn't anyway). I love the scene where they are playing Chopsticks and of course, that old chestnut the 2nd…
Marilyn on sparkling form, and I love the stream-of-consciousness narrative. TOM MACKENZIE!!
Also love the psychoanalyst dude, talk about scene-stealing : D
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
The Itch had me in stitches throughout. Many complain about casting Tom Ewell in the lead, what with him being so utterly unpersonable, but IMO its essential. We need Ewell to look quite mundane: its what makes his sexual fantasies, where he is a legend in his own mind, hilarious and comical. The entire point here is that whilst he purports to be ‘fighting off’ Marylin Monroe at every turn, she, meanwhile, never has any intentions whatsoever towards him: in fact, one of the funniest scenes in the film ensues whilst Ewell is mixing cocktails and explaining to her that things don’t happen randomly: she must have knocked the tomato plant over because she is in love with him, whilst…
Classic comedy/fantasy. Memorable.