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The Seven Year Itch More at IMDbPro »

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Rusalka's ninth film review: Sexual ambiguity at its very best...Billy Wilder style

Author: Jason John Sanicki from Chicago, Illinois
15 April 2003

Billy Wilder's classic comedy The Seven Year Itch is a total sex farce, however there is no sex in it whatsoever. The Seven Year Itch blew the lid off of 1950's stodgy conservatism, shocked audiences with its irrereverant view of marital infidelity and showcased the late, great Marilyn Monroe in her most sexually suggestive role to date (at the time the film was released).

Of course, the premise of the story is simple (without giving too much away). A married man is alone for the summer while his wife and son are off on vacation and is "tempted" (for lack of a better word) by his voluptuous upstairs neighbor. Hijinks and hilarity ensue when Richard Sherman discovers that he, himself is the victim of none other than the infamous Seven Year Itch!

I think that the greatest thing that this film has going for it is the interplay between its stars, Marilyn Monroe and Tommy Ewell. Of course, Marilyn is her normal self in this one and gives yet another trademark performance, but this one however transcends the boundaries of just a "normal" role and shoots her star into the celluloid heavens where it remains to this day. If Gentlemen Prefer Blondes made her a star then the Seven Year Itch just confirmed it and allowed her star to shine even brighter than ever before. In this film, Marilyn plays the role of "the Girl", someone who is never named but who plays the role of the "innocent" girl next door to the hilt, but has a touch of tempstress within her still.

What's so funny about this film is the mannerisms in which it gets played. They're always a tad to the extreme but seem never to get taken over the top too much. As always with a Billy Wilder script, the dialog crackles with certain one-liners ("Rachmaninov makes me goose-pimply all over") and an impeccable writing style that only Wilder was able to pull off.

In closing, this was THE film with the now-famous/trademark subway grate scene which was the impetus for Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio's divorce. Some people have said it was inevitable, but as Marily herself had said once "they're not in love with Norma Jean, they're in love with her(Marilyn Monroe)." And we as an audience still are...over fifty years later!

It's true what they say...some things DO improve with age.

My rating: 3 stars

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Sexual ambiguity at its very best...Billy Wilder style

Author: Jason Jon Sanicki (JSanicki@aol.com) from Chicago, Illinois
25 March 2003

Billy Wilder's classic comedy The Seven Year Itch is a sex farce, however there is no sex in it whatsoever. The Seven Year Itch blew the lid off 1950's conservatism, shocked audiences with its irreverant view of marital infidelity and showcased the late, great Marilyn Monroe in her most sexually suggestive role to date.

I think the greatest thing that this film has going for it is the interplay between its stars, Marilyn Monroe and Tommy Ewell. Of course, Marilyn is her normal self in this one and gives another trademark performance, but this one however transcends the boundaries of just a "normal" role and shoots her star into the celluloid heavens where it remains to this day. If Gentleman Prefer Blondes made her a star, than The Seven Year Itch just confirmed it and allowed her to shine even brighter then ever before. Marilyn plays the role of "the Girl", someone who is never named but who plays the role of the innocent girl next door to the hilt, but has a touch of tempstress within her still.

What is so funny about this film is the mannerisms in which it gets played. They're always a tad to the extreme but seem never to get taken "over the top" too much. As always with a Billy Wilder script, the dialog crackles with certain one-liners and an impeccable writing style that only Wilder himself was able to pull off.

In closing, yes this was THE film with the famous skirt-blowing scene that was the cause for Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio's marriage to hit the skids and break up, but as Marilyn herself once said "they're not in love with Norma Jean, they're in love with her (Marilyn Monroe)." And we as an audience are still in love with her as well, over fifty years later.

It's true what they say...some things DO improve with age.

My rating: 3 stars

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Addendum

8/10
Author: Spleen from Canberra, Australia
5 October 2001

In an earlier comment, while praising this film, I described it as "weak". I wouldn't do so now. Never again will I comment on anything without seeing the full screen version ... the reason this suffers so much on a television screen is because of the panning: in a cinema, one can FEEL the rectangular boundaries of the screen as Wilder's camera pans horizontally outside of them to show us Tom Ewell's fantasies. Not only is this visually appealing, it makes the comedy more graceful. You never know what's been lost when you watch a shrunken image.

It goes without saying that Marilyn Monroe is sexier on a big screen. Tom Ewell is more likable, and the minor characters are more themselves. Charming film.

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The picture quakes me

Author: Darth Sidious (darth_sidious@talk21.com) from England
30 December 2000

I finally got around to seeing Monroe in a film, this is my first! I really enjoyed this picture, it has a special warm feeling to it.

At the heart of this comedy is a strong message - Do all men yearn for something exciting after your marriage becomes routine? Hmmm, I think a lot of men do yearn for something else when the wife's away on holiday.

The film is a lot of fun, plenty of humour and some terrific screenwriting.

The performance by Tom Ewell is excellent, it seems near-perfect! Monroe is stunning, she may not be versatile, but boy, you can't keep your eyes off her.

The direction is excellent, Wilder makes full use of the wide-screen frame.

The photography is excellent, lighting Monroe with a stunning white glow.

Overall, an excellent picture, enjoy! Remember to see it in wide-screen!

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surprisingly good film

7/10
Author: Vike-3 from midwest
6 October 2000

I am not big fan of farces nor do I like Marilyn Monroe that much because of her lack of variability, but I must say I enjoyed this film.

Billy Wilder's direction is superb, especially when you consider that most of the film takes place only in the married man's (I forget his name) apartment. Ewell does a wonderful job of straight-playing a man who lets his fantasies get the best of him. Monroe, as usual, plays a ditz but also plays her role straight, showing she puts more effort into her character here than in other movies. Even the supporting actors, who are for the most part scenery fillers, get passionate in their roles and can say something either witty or dumb without giving the impression they are trying to be funny.

Rent it if you enjoy farce, or catch it on cable some night.

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TOM EWELL...not forgotten

9/10
Author: gary renfield (gary_renfield@email.com) from New Jersey, USA
9 April 2000

One thing that always surprises, and saddens, me, is how a 'huge' star can lose his place in the all-time hierarchy of Hollywood Stars and our memories. Tom Ewell is such a one. A giant in his day, I don't think he is given his due for great performances in the past. "7 YEAR ITCH" is basically a monologue; are there any scenes without him??? (NOT MANY!)

How can you help someone overcome that 'itch'? Well, throwing a nubile, naive Marilyn Monroe into a married man's (single for the summer) duplex apartment is more torture than help. Ewell fights his demons, nearly surrenders to them (in a Walter Mitty kind of way), and fights some more. All in all, very entertaining and very sexy (for it's day). It's most note-able for the Marilyn Monroe over the subway grate scene, but Tom Ewell is the star of the movie and won't be forgotten for an excellent performance...

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Marilyn at her iconic best

8/10
Author: Applause Meter from United States
17 June 2013

Only Marilyn Monroe as The Girl brings life and effervescence to this movie; Tom Ewell, playing a summer vacation "bachelor" is dead weight. I agree with another reviewer that the part of Richard Sherman would have been a great vehicle for someone with the talent of Jack Lemmon. Lemmon would have provided the perfect foil for Monroe's brand of little girl naiveté, and disingenuous sexuality; the type of casting that made his pairing with Judy Holliday so successful.

Ewell has absolutely no screen charisma. His characterization lacks the required wit, and whimsical nuance. He infuses no verve into his meanders as fantasizer engaging in monologues, which spout the trials and tribulation defining the battle of the sexes, as culturally accepted in 1950s America. When his character's frustrations morph into physical animation, he's a charmless bumbler and you find your eyes wandering to the set decor—the furniture, a lamp, even a flowerpot.

The movie is all Marilyn. The viewer gets her screen persona in full bloom and with a fun, over-the-top bang. The movie is worth watching for her performance alone. Monroe at her iconic peak is the main attraction.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Really well played situational comedy able to combine its low-culture premise and content into something top-end.

7/10
Author: johnnyboyz from Hampshire, England
14 February 2013

The Seven Year Itch is a classic case of what people often refer to as "life imitating art", an irony inherent at the centre of the film whereby what it is the lead character is used to doing (and doing quite well) returns amongst the throngs of "real life" to hit him where it hurts. The case in point here lies with Tom Ewell's Richard Sherman, a man whose occupation is likely down on paper as "publisher", although what he really does is merely spruce up the fronts of books so as to hook people in on the cover alone. By day, he makes it his business to make a meal of things; to screw or tamper with the authenticity of what the true nature of the beast is so as to make it seem more interesting. By night, he is a married man with a young daughter living in a small New York City apartment building wherein the apartments themselves are rather nice. He is, however, out of his professional element here; not in control, and often comes second to his wife. What happens, and therefore propels the film into what it is, is his family go away on holiday during these sweltering summer months thus allowing for our Richard to strike up a relationship with an attractive new neighbour. We watch their burgeoning friendship develop, the lies; misconceptions and general inauthenticity of the nature of what's going on play out: where home and office were once in binary opposition, they are suddenly inseparable.

The opening credits warm us for the exercise in manoeuvring our eyes around the screen, capturing glances; facial expressions and body language central to how people act, react and feel about what circumstances they're in. Here, we observe a nifty series of graphics made up to look like a jigsaw puzzle slide away from the bigger shape revealing a credit. Very soon, we're plunged into Sherman's world, or the world dominated by men Sherman's age and in positions in life not too dissimilar to his own. This is a very male dominated film, women exist as these strange creatures making up the rest of the space either too attractive for their own good thus epitomising temptation or too familiarised and droll to be anything interesting anymore, thus epitomising a kind of emotion of boredom these male characters possess. There is very little middle ground, emphasising the black-or-white strand of feelings Sherman in particular feels and the will I, won't I/should I, shouldn't I emotions acting as a core principal to the piece.

Now is the time of year whereby wives and children troop off for holidays away with one another as, for whatever reason, husbands and fathers stay at home. Anticipating the migration, most men gear up for their time away from the predominant 'shackles' of life by leering at the younger, single women with whom they might be able to strike up a cord once the cats are away and the mice are permitted to play. Richard is established as different; in so much he quite evidently resists thinking of infidelity, while the film desperately tries to hammer home the fact he's a little "nicer", or a little more upstanding than the other guys, by having him eat a healthy meal at a diner en route to going home. Things pinch, however, when he actually arrives home and begins to enjoy the liberation of not having to listen to his wife's same old "welcome home" routine as well as the little things such as being chastised for not using a bottle opener when he goes to drink a beer. Where Richard is the boss of his office, he is controlled at home by his wife; questioned, challenged, even.

Fate strikes a cruel blow when, on top of everything, arguably the most attractive women working in the film industry at the time, in Marilyn Monroe, breezes into the apartment upstairs to hazy orchestral music accentuating attractiveness. She is the new tenant and immediately strikes up a friendship with Sherman. It is from these simple beginnings an often funny film unravels, but it is a comedy fishing more for laughs built on imbalances in the domestic situation; a film gunning for laughs based on a set of dynamics that govern a man's life and his attitudes towards woman as elements stack up against him. Nearby in the building, a sleazy male neighbour on the lookout for action of his own is waiting to pounce on Monroe's character should Richard stick to his guns, while phone conversations with his wife reveal his other half to be getting along very nicely with a male friend they've all known for years, and one of whom Richard doesn't particularly like. The film is quite the blast, a film whose comedy is built on a desire for love and liberation but doesn't ever have you feel as if you need to fall back on the word "resort" to describe its humour. Unlike many-a comedy in the modern age wherein a film maker has their own liberation from censorship, profanity and, it often seems, subtlety and common sense, this comedy tackles the subject matter; delivers the laughs and not once comes off as misguided or crude.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Despite Its Censorship Issues, "Seven Year Itch" Scratches Up Comedy

10/10
Author: zardoz-13 from United States
20 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

'The Seven Year Itch" ranks as a hilarious, occasionally claustrophobic comedy about a middle-aged husband who has a close encounter with an anonymous drop-dead gorgeous dame. Tom Ewell plays hyper-imaginative husband Richard Sherman who toils daily as an editor for a 25 cent novel publishing firm. Sherman has to spice up reprints of classic novels with lurid book covers. Wilder adapted George Axlerod's three-act play with some alterations. The Production Code prompted one of the biggest changes. In the play, Sherman beds the babe. However, the PCA refused to relent on this point. The Code took a dim view of justifying adultery and didn't budge. Consequently, our protagonist doesn't sleep with the dame.

Meantime, Wilder confines the loquacious action to a number of sets. The story takes place in New York City either at Sherman's office or in Sherman's urban residence. Richard has equipped his apartment with air conditioners, while the upstairs apartment that the dame rents lacks air. This amusing opus opens with a bogus prologue about the Manhattan Indians packing their wives and children off during a suffocating summer off to a cooler environment. The narrator acknowledges that this anecdote has nothing to do with the contemporary story that unfolded later as a publishing executive who packs his wife and son off to Maine during the sweaty summer. Richard packs his wife Helen and obnoxious son Ricky up to Maine while he suffers in the city. Not only has He sworn off cigarettes, but he also struggles to curb his urge for alcohol. As it turns out, the dame is living upstairs. Richard and she meet after she drops a devastating tomato plant onto him. As portrayed by Monroe, this dame is pretty dizzy. For example, she claims she can recognize classical music because there are no vocals. Richard invites the dame downstairs after his close encounter. They have a drink and chat. At one point, Richard gets his finger stuck in a liquor bottle and the dame has to extract it.

Marilyn Monroe looks radiant with blonde coiffure, her red lipstick and fingernails. The character that she plays stars in commercials for a toothpaste called Dazzledent. The melodrama that grows out of this predicament is that Richard dreams up some fanciful encounters with women that his wife-in-the-story know are a product of his imagination. The scene in the vegetarian restaurant where Sherman tries to tip the waitress is funny. The dour-faced waitress informs Sherman that she is not allows to accept tips but that she will contribute it to the fund for Nudist camps. The scene at the piano when Ewell with a bogus accent tells Marilyn that he will take her and kiss her hard is superb. Later, Ewell and Monroe performs Chopsticks on the piano. Despite the confined settings, "The Seven Year Itch" is very funny. Although he isn't allowed to sleep with Monroe, he leaves her with his blessing to stay in his apartment while he takes with little Ricky's paddle to Maine.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Unfulfilling, but quite frankly above its time

8/10
Author: hanjhking from South Korea
16 September 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Billy Wilder is of course one of the greatest directors of all times. His dramas and comedies have been cheered on as one of the greatest in their genres. He is also a dear director for me, because he has influenced me quite a lot with my taste in films. To this day, 'Double Idemnity', 'Sunset Blvd.' and his masterpiece 'Some Like it Hot', is treasured in my DVD collection. But for some reason, I tried to miss 'The Seven Year Itch'. I don't know why. It just seemed weak than the other ones. Oh sure, I knew that the iconic Marilyn Monroe image was in the film. But I just never felt like it. However, I have finally watched the film. And yes, I was a bit disappointed.

The film just seemed like there was no climax, no beginning, not even a middle. It just wen straight on. There was no sense of fulfillment in any part of the film. This is not what I see in Wilder, considering that his films boomed with moments that would engrave themselves in the minds of others.

With that said, I think that's the only flaw of the film. Sure it's a big one, but the rest of the film is just so good. Tom Ewell's paranoid husband and Marilyn Monroe's iconic blonde beauty performances shine through. They use it for so many hilarious moments, mainly two scenes like the piano bench scene, and of course the crazy imaginations.

Also, what I admire in Wilder is that his humor is quite above his time. Usually in these days, the humor would be too corny for the taste of the modern world. I don't mind, but I can still see that it my annoy some people. 'The Seven Year Itch', is almost self-aware. It knows what kind of film it is that it's almost too smart for words. There is a scene where the Tom Ewell character is at it again with his paranoia in front a man who he thinks is having an affair with his wife. He then points out that there is a blonde in the kitchen, and then he loudly acclaims, "Maybe it's 'Marilyn Monroe'."

For me, pop-culture references started with Wilder in cinema. He was one of the first directors to do it. I still find certain moments, especially the moment I just depicted, as some of the blooming of the pop-culture humor.

The film is on the whole,decent and well-made. No, it cannot be a masterpiece because there isn't really a perfectioning feeling or fulfillment. It's simply what it is, an entertainment piece. that's all there is too it.

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