The Seven Year Itch Review

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With his wife Helen and son Tom away on vacation, New Yorker Richard Sherman flirts with the girl from the apartment upstairs, but despite his lusts and daydreams, he manages to remain true to his marriage vows.


Adapted by Billy Wilder and George Axelrod from the latter's hit Broadway play, this was essentially an extension of the opening sequence in Wilder's 1942 farce, The Major and the Minor, in which Robert Benchley's home alone husband orders a scalp massage and fantasises about the pulchritude of his masseuse. There was also more than a hint of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty about the reveries that punctuated this dated, sniggeringly smutty, but occasionally amusing romp.

However, Wilder shifted the emphasis firmly on to the The Girl to exploit Marilyn Monroe's innocent sensuality and her gift for breathless comedy, which was just as well as her co-star struggled throughout to convey a credible sense of guilty temptation, even though he had starred in the original stage production, opposite Vanessa Brown.  

Recognising Tom Ewell's tendency towards theatricality, Wilder had attempted to cast Walter Matthau (whom he had tested with Gena Rowlands). But producer Charles K. Feldman nixed the idea and, as Wilder was on loan to Fox from Paramount, he had no bargaining power. He was similarly boxed into shooting in CinemaScope for the first time and didn't always make the most imaginative use of the additional space.  

However, Wilder did coax a spirited performance out of Marilyn Monroe, whose 23rd film proved to be her most successful to date. The triumph came at a cost, however, as husband Joe Di Maggio was so dismayed by the filming of the legendary subway vent sequence that he walked off the set, leaving Marilyn to complete the shoot before a vast watching crowd. Unsurprisingly, the footage was heavily censored, with only the billowing dress being shown on screen, consigning the iconic full-length view to the publicity campaign.  

 Wilder was equally frustrated by his inability to conclude the picture with a shot of the family maid finding a hair clip in Ewell's bed. But the Breen Office clearly felt it had been sufficiently lenient in permitting innumerable references to adultery, the risqué US Camera magazine and the permanent hotness of a girl who keeps her underwear in the ice box.

Very dated and not consistently funny but famous for the iconic Marilyn air-vent shot and a close to the under-wire smuttiness.