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Plodding, occasionally amusing, massively over-rated piece of nonsense
from the pens of Billy Wilder and George Axelrod, both of whom did much
better work elsewhere - in the case of Wilder, we're talking of a man
who created a number of bona-fide masterpieces, so goodness knows what
was going on here.
The performances are OK, although to be honest Monroe's eternal breathiness grates on me after a while, no matter how worthwhile her other talents.
The piece stands somewhere between The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947) and Play It Again Sam (1972). As far as I can see, that's the most interesting thing about it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Hollywood's moral code in the fifties meant that sex comedies, in the sense that we would understand the term today, did not exist. `Sophisticated' comedies about divorce and adultery, with all the action taking place strictly offstage, were about as close as anyone ever got. This film is a typical example of that style of filmmaking. It is set in Manhattan during a summer heatwave. The leading male character, Richard Sherman, has sent his wife and son to escape to the cooler mountains of New England, but he himself has to remain in town, as July is a busy time at the publishing firm for which he works. The flat above his has been rented by an attractive young model, whose name we never actually learn. When Sherman meets her he spends most of his time in attempts to seduce her, interspersed with panic attacks at the thought of his wife finding out.
With its small cast of characters and action largely confined to a single flat, it clearly betrays its origins as a stage play. I have never seen the play on which it is based, but I was interested to learn that the play is actually more explicit in that the two main characters do have a sexual relationship. The theatre of this period was clearly more liberal about sexual matters than the cinema, in America at least. (In Britain the Lord Chamberlain's Office, which governed theatrical censorship, was quite as puritanical as its cinematic equivalent, the British Board of Film Censors). Despite this change of emphasis, the filmed version works well in its own right. Sherman becomes less a middle-aged lecher than a middle-aged fantasist. He fantasises about women, not because he wants to sleep with them (his fantasies generally end with him fighting the woman off amid protestations that he is a happily married man) but because his ego gets a boost from the thought that he is handsome, charming and irresistible. He pursues Marilyn Monroe's character not because he has any cause for dissatisfaction with his wife or any serious thoughts about divorce but because, approaching his fortieth birthday, he needs reassurance that he is still attractive to women.
Although Tom Ewell is witty and amusing as Sherman, it is Marilyn Monroe who steals the film (as she normally did). Now, this may seem like heresy to many, but Marilyn was not the most beautiful woman ever. She was not even the most beautiful actress of the fifties; several others such as Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor or Brigitte Bardot had more classically perfect features. What Monroe could do like no other actress of her time (and like very few who have come since) was to combine sex appeal with wide-eyed innocence. Her character in this movie is a fine example of this. Sherman falls for her precisely because she is not only pretty but also young and naïve; the sort of girl her can exercise his charms on without creating any real threat to his marriage. This is a film about flirtation, not about serious, long-term relationships, so it does not matter that the girl is the typical Hollywood `dumb blonde'. Monroe was perfect for the role; if virtually any other actress had been cast in it (including any of those mentioned above) the result would have been a very different film. There are also some amusing cameo roles from Oskar Homolka, as a Germanic psychiatrist, from Robert Strauss as the loud, pushy janitor and from Donald MacBride as Sherman's cynical boss.
Although the film must originally have seemed sophisticated and daring, fifty years later it is somewhat dated and now seems tame and lightweight. Even the famous scene where Marilyn Monroe stands above the subway grating is much less revealing than popular legend or the film's reputation might have you believe. When I say that a film is `dated', I do not necessarily mean that one cannot today watch it with pleasure, but rather that it is an example of an older style of filmmaking that it would not be possible to recreate today. (Indeed, a film of this type would probably have been impossible at any period after the mid-sixties). There is still much in `The Seven Year Itch' that is worth watching, but it no longer seems as fresh or as funny as it probably did when it was first released. It has not lasted as well as Monroe's other famous collaboration with Billy Wilder, `Some Like It Hot'. 6/10.
Director Billy Wilder gets a great, comic book-styled performance out of Marilyn Monroe: she's guilelessly sexy and playful, and has no idea she's enchanting the married man who lives downstairs in her building. Unfortunately, hers are the only moments of inspiration in an otherwise dim-bulb comedy which must rank as Wilder's most disappointing venture. Beginning with the animated credits sequence (where colored boxes open to reveal teeny-tiny print), Wilder's handling is flat, his timing is off, and the central situation--a husband rationalizing having an extra-marital fling--has no heart. As the man whose wife and child are away on vacation, Tom Ewell gives a flaccid performance, overplaying every emotion and generally making this picture unbearable. Ewell fantasizes different scenarios and constantly jabbers to himself, but he's only in the way (and Billy Wilder does everybody a disservice by staging one overlong sequence in Ewell's shower--with Ewell in it!). Worthwhile for Monroe's fans who won't mind slogging through the inept, timeworn gags and groaning dialogue, just to see the platinum blonde's skirt get that famous blast of air over the subway grating. Too bad the rest of "The Seven Year Itch" wasn't as imaginative. *1/2 from ****
Legendary comedy masterpiece from filmmaker Billy Wilder and
screenwriter George Axelrod that won various Golden Globe nominations .
It packs a top-drawer duo protagonist , Marylyn Monroe and Tom Ewell ,
and a splendid secondary cast formed by a variety of notorious actors
who make sympathetic interpretations . When his family , wife (Evelyn
Keyes) and son , goes away for the summer, a so far faithful husband
(Tom Ewell) is tempted by a beautiful neighbor (Marilyn Monroe) , a
blonde model who moves upstairs . Understandably he gets itchy . Soon ,
the known but abortive relationship with his blond neighbor and his
wolfish dreams coming to nothing in the face of her ingeniousness and
his own ineptitude .
Rightly enjoyable and fun-filled , milestone comedy which neatly combines humor , mirth , entertaining situations and amusement . This noisy comedy is intelligently and pleasingly written to gives us lots of fun , laughters and smiles . This is the funniest comedy since laughter began , it is mordantly funny and todays considered a real classic movie . Billy Wilder kept the studio Twentieth Century Fox happy , the picture consistently made money and was hit at box office . Flawless comedy with a duo of sensational protagonists , including an unforgettable Marilyn who parades sexily at her best and more relaxed and enticing than ever , she tickles and tantalizes . Adding , of course , the funniest sequences of all being those in which Monroe's blown skirt and those in which Tom Ewell dreams as the great lover .Despite being one of the most iconic images in pop culture history, as well as one of the most recognizable photographs of Marilyn Monroe, the famous full-length image of Monroe standing with her dress being blown up never actually appears in the film ; the shot used in the film is only of her legs, cut with reaction shots, and never shown full-length. The hit of the show is undoubtedly for the fetching Marilyn Monroe who gives one of the best screen acting . Magnificent performance from Tom Ewell as an angst-ridden forty-years-old husband left alone while his spouse go off on holiday . Tom Ewell won the 1953 Tony Award for Actor in a Drama for "The Seven Year Itch" in the role of Richard Sherman, which he reprised in this film . Furthermore , an attractive support cast giving appealing interpretations such as Robert Strauss , Oscar Homolka , Carolyn Jones , Sonny Tuffs and Evelyn Keyes .
This sexy motion picture was very well directed by Billy Wilder who includes several punchlines . Billy was one of the best directors of history . In 1939 started the partnership with Charles Bracket on such movies as ¨Ninotchka¨ , ¨Ball of fire¨ , making their film debut as such with ¨Major and the minor¨ . ¨Sunset Boulevard¨ was their last picture together before they split up . Later on , Billy collaborated with another excellent screenwriter IAL Diamond . Both of them won an Academy Award for ¨Stalag 17¨ dealing with a POW camp starred by William Holden . After that , they wrote/produced/directed such classics as ¨Ace in the hole¨ , the touching romantic comedy ¨Sabrina¨ , the Hickcoktian courtroom puzzle game ¨Witness for the prosecution¨ and two movies with the great star Marilyn Monroe , the warmth ¨Seven year itch¨ and this ¨Some like hot¨. All of them include screenplays that sizzle with wit . But their biggest success and highpoint resulted to be the sour and fun ¨¨The apartment¨. Subsequently in the 60s and 70s , the duo fell headlong into the pit , they realized nice though unsuccessful movies as ¨Buddy buddy¨ ,¨Fedora¨ , ¨Front page¨ and ¨Secret life of Sherlock Holmes¨, though the agreeable ¨Avanti¨ slowed the decline . The team had almost disappeared beneath a wave of bad reviews and failures . ¨The seven year itch¨ rating : Above average , essential and indispensable watching ; extremely funny and riveting film and completely entertaining . It justly deserves its place among the best comedy ever made . One of the very funniest films of all time and to see and see again . It's the kind of movie where you know what's coming but , because the treatment , enjoy it all the same .
This is a movie, like "The Great Dictator" or "Birth of a Nation," that more people _know_ than have _watched_. Everyone is familiar with the scene in which Marilyn Monroe stands over the subway grate, but how many people have actually seen this film? Well, for all those people, the answer is: don't bother. The problem with this film isn't Monroe, who turns in one of her best performances this side of "Some Like it Hot," but rather with Tom Ewell. He is annoying, irritating, and an absolute vacuum at the dead center of this film. Unfortunately, Ewell is on screen about twice as long as Monroe, and he spends most of the time talking to himself, which is just cruel. His is a role that, in the hands of someone like Jack Lemmon, could have been terrific. Ewell, however, supplies an obtrusive, boring narration to a leaden, plodding performance. In the end, I didn't want Ewell's wife to catch him in his tentative indiscretions, I wanted a meteorite to hit him.
Something that irritates me about the IMBD is that if you criticise a movie
that was made before 1980, a truckload of idiots send you messages telling
you how much you hate old movies. Let me say right away, I don't. I like
films from pretty much every era of cinema that I've had the chance to see,
but, having had common sense recently installed, I've come to realise that
age doesn't automatically make a movie great, just as modernity doesn't
automatically make a movie bad.
So bearing in mind that I'm talking about this one movie, and not every movie made in the 1950s, The Seven Year Itch is as average as they come. The minimal plot sees Tom Ewell's `summer bachelor' trying to resist the charms of neighbour Marilyn Monroe while his wife and son are shipped off for the season. Very obviously adapted from a play, there are few characters, few sets, and even fewer laughs. That it succeeds at all is due to the charm of the leads and the occasional good joke that sneaks its way into the script.
The film's main problem comes in how it tells its story. First, it depends on Ewell constantly talking to himself, babbling on endlessly about what he's doing, what he might do, what he's never done, and what other people will think he's doing, done and about to do. Secondly, he is constantly daydreaming, the film constantly dissolving into one of his fantasies that are unfortunately no funnier than reality. If you find this storytelling approach irritating, as I did, the film's potential is lost immediately.
You'll no doubt be shocked to learn that in this film Marilyn Monroe is cast as a dumb blonde. Most people in the world seem to immediately pitch a trouser tent at the thought of Norma Jean, but I can't say I count myself among them. The problem with a dumb blonde is that she's dumb, so to find her attractive, you have to be attracted to stupidity. I'm not, so it doesn't matter how much she pouts, or how often we're treated to shots of her hourglass figure; she's as thick as a lobotomised footballer and therefore unattractive. She's basically got the personality and intelligence of a six year old, and, not being Gary Glitter, I can't say that appeals to me.
A comedy with few laughs, a sex symbol who doesn't float my boat, and a classic that just doesn't do it for me. I guess there's another bunch of snide messages coming my way.
Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell) is having to stay home and continue going
to work while his wife and son go on vacation. He then notices the
young woman (Marilyn Monroe) living in the apartment above him. He
realizes that he's probably been bitten by the seven year itch, where
he gets interested in other women after seven years of marriage.
Obviously, everyone remembers the subway-grating scene. But there's much more to "The Seven Year Itch" than just that. It shows how, through his acquaintanceship with this young woman, Richard rediscovers a sense of strength in himself. Among other things, it goes to show (or rather, reaffirm) what a great director Billy Wilder was.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This trying bit of corn is a real artifact. Single-for-the-summer Tom
Ewell soliloquies his way through this stagy, underpopulated sex farce.
Unnamed neighbor Marilyn Monroe is his witless quarry. Do viewers
really need to be notified that the era of lecherous males drooling
over female cheesecake to generate the lowest form of broad comedy (the
whole show here) is over? Monroe cooperates in this embarrassment via
her portrayal of the dimmest of dim bulbs (enthralled by 'chopsticks'
on the piano). How much do you have to dislike yourself to play a woman
like this? The movie's version of the female sex is grotesque.
This is a very dull, unfunny movie. All of the era's lascivious 'gender politics' comedies geared for male audiences are simply embarrassing now. There's 'A Guide for the Married Man,' 'Irma Le Douce,' 'What's New Pussycat?' 'Sweet Charity,' etc. ...in all of which, women are uncomplicated, compliant, one-dimensional, unworldly prey. If you enjoy impotent losers making faces over puerile double-entendres about breasts, this may be your flavor. The culture is now revisiting this tiresome era ...in the tiresome one-note hit 'Mad Men.'
Whatever fun and spontaneity THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH has as a movie is due
entirely to the lines and situations given to MARILYN MONROE. Only when
she is on the screen, does the story go into full spin with
double-entendre remarks and visual gags. Monroe is at her peachiest as
the girl who's seemingly unaware of the raging hormones going on right
under her nose by her neurotic neighbor.
As the neighbor, TOM EWELL is given entirely too much footage and becomes downright obnoxious and annoying with his monologues long before the finale. It's obvious that he lacked the chemistry for the part (a role he originated on stage), and someone like JACK LEMMON would have been a much better choice as the man downstairs.
For Monroe's fans, this is one of her best performances coming at a time when she was doing some great work at The Actor's Studio in NYC.
SONNY TUFTS and EVELYN KEYES have roles that don't amount to much and drift in and out of the story with very little effect. Billy Wilder's direction is hampered by his casting choice of Ewell to repeat his stage role with less than satisfying results.
After sixteen wonderful pictures, I didn't think that Billy Wilder
could do wrong. However, after lulling me into a false sense of
security, the director then delivered a right hook to my jaw, leaving
me dazed, confused and with a splitting headache. As melodramatic as
that sounds, I really did spend last night with a niggling feeling of
discomfort in my brain, as though I'd been unexpectedly betrayed by an
old friend. 'The Seven Year Itch (1955)' has the best of intentions,
and it showcases sex-icon Marilyn Monroe in one of her most alluring
roles, but overall it just doesn't work; by the end of the film, I
found myself more than a little exasperated. The screenplay was adapted
from George Axelrod's popular 1952 three-act play of the same name,
which Wilder apparently liked to such that he prophetically included an
allusion to it in his 'Sabrina (1954).' Whether or not film censorship
played a role in diluting the director's true vision, all I can say is
that I am decidedly disappointed.
"A stairway to nowhere! I think that's just elegant." So says The Girl (Marilyn Monroe) when she notices the low-budget fashion in which a former-duplex has been converted into two separate apartments. This is exactly how I feel about this film: it's a stairway to nowhere. The story starts off with definite promise, as a middle-aged husband (Tom Ewell) says farewell to his beloved family for the summer, and must fight the urge to misbehave in their absence ("oh, no, not me!"); that means no drinking, no smoking and no women. Oh, what glorious temptations Wilder could have flung in this man's path! Unfortunately, this is where the story's foundations in theatre come into play. Just as the story promises to get interesting, it stumbles into an inescapable rut, and everything suddenly stagnates, the running time prolonged through frustratingly-pointless monologues and imagined conversations. Ewell's neurotic overreacting, funny at first, becomes grating, and I couldn't wait until he rid himself of that so-called Seven Year Itch.
That there are shafts of light beaming into this dark tunnel is a welcome reassurance to this keen Wilder fan. The casting of Marilyn Monroe is perfect, bringing a sex appeal that was unrivalled by even the finest beauties of her time. Young, lively and naive, The Girl accepts Richard Sherman's awkward advances as just another daily occurrence, frequently mistaking his obvious lust for simple neighbourly kindness. That imaginative money shot above the New York subway is justly iconic, and probably most fully defines Monroe's screen persona, even though Wilder would utilise her to even greater effect in 'Some Like It Hot (1959)' four years later. Despite my general dissatisfaction with the screenplay, there are, nonetheless, a few great lines of dialogue, many delivered by Oskar Homolka as the straight-shooting psychiatrist Dr. Brubaker ("At fifty dollars an hour, all my cases are interesting!"). Remarkably, 'The Seven Year Itch' was a considerable box-office success, something I can't quite understand, considering the failure of some of his most impressive pictures. Sorry, Billy I guess nobody's perfect, after all.
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