The Seven Year Itch (1955)

With his family away for their annual summer holiday, New Yorker Richard Sherman decides he has the opportunity to live a bachelor’s life – to eat and drink what he wants and basically to enjoy life without wife and son. The beautiful but ditsy blond from the apartment above his catches his eye and they soon start spending time together. It’s all innocent though there is little doubt that Sherman is attracted to her. Any lust he may be feeling is played out in his own imagination however.

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Marilyn at her most innocent

6 September 2002 | by caspian1978 (Boston, MA) – See all my reviews

In Some Like it Hot, Marilyn was the hottest she ever was. In Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, she’s the Woman of all Women. But in The Seven Year Itch, Marilyn is the prize of all treasures. She is timeless in every frame of the film. Coming across as this unique, cute, and innocent little woman, Marilyn makes your mind race, your heart thump, and your youth return.

No one else but Marilyn Monroe could play “The Girl” in the movie. She is just that, a girl, but much much more. Most of the physical comedy in the film is executed by Monroe herself. A lot of us don’t realize this as we expect most of the comedy to come from the comedian in the film, Tom Ewell. A must see if you are a fan of America’s first Dream Girl, the amazing Marilyn Monroe.

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A Fabulously Funny, Fast-Paced Sex Farce From The Fifties…It’s “Just Elegant!”

10/10
Author: Allison Dragotto (palal16@aol.com) from ilion, New York
15 July 1999

The 1955 comedy, “The Seven Year Itch,” directed by Billy Wilder, is one of the most amusing sex farces ever filmed. Starring Tom Ewell and Marilyn Monroe, and based on George Axelrod’s play, the film takes a humorous look at the problems of a typical middle-aged married man. Tom Ewell, and unassuming leading man with a flair and talent for comedy, is perfectly cast in this movie. Ewell plays the part of Richard Sherman, an average middled-aged man of the 50’s…office worker, city inhabitant, with a loving wife and one son. He is left alone in the city for the entire summer while his family vacations in Maine. All is well until Mr. Sherman meets the beautiful blonde who rents the apartment above his for the summer.

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They soon get to know each other and become friends over champagne, potato chips, and a Rachmaninoff record. Their friendship causes Mr. Sherman to worry that his wife will find out about his relationship with the blonde bombshell. With his overactive imagination, Mr. Sherman dreams up numerous situations concerning this young woman, as well as his wife. Although his imagination causes Mr. Sherman much worry, it provides many of the film’s most memorable and enjoyable scenes. Of course, the film is famous for the scene of Monroe standing over the subway grate, which has always been a classic movie scene. Monroe, although unnamed in the film, gives one of her best screen performances, which is “just elegant,” as she says throughout the movie. She displays a talent for comedy as well as beauty, which should not be overlooked. Ewell’s portrayal of Richard Sherman is delightful, hilarious, and perfect. His facial expressions and comedic timing contribute to the film’s enjoyability.

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Along with these stars, the supporting cast is excellent as well. It includes such character actors as Robert Strauss (Mr. Kruhulik, the janitor), and Donald MacBride (Mr. Brady, Richard Sherman’s boss). “The Seven Year Itch” is one of the ultimate 50’s pop culture films. And since it was filmed in Cinemascope, it would be perfect to see on the big screen. Any fan of Monroe, Wilder, old movies, or 50’s culture would enjoy this movie; I strongly recommend it. The comedy, timing, acting, and direction are flawless…and they all help to make “The Seven Year Itch” “just elegant!”

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sparkling but a bit confusing!

Author: didi-5 from United Kingdom
13 May 2004

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.

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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 Rach concerto rears its head! Victor Moore plays a doddery plumber and Oscar Homolka a shrink who advises Ewell not to consider anything as drastic as murder until he can get simple problems sorted out, while Evelyn Keyes makes the most of her few appearances as Ewell’s wife (or is she his conscience?!).

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The film is fun, the famous skirt and grid scene is now legendary (but quite unlike the often-seen poster shot), and there is much in this bouncy production after nearly fifty years to entertain pretty much anyone.

Naive and Innocent in the Present Days, Tested the Limit of Censorship in the 50’s

7/10
Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
23 October 2006

In summertime in Manhattan, the plain and average Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell) sends his wife and son for vacation in the country. Sherman is the key man of a publishing firm, Brady & Company, which publishes cheap pocket books. The faithful Sherman has a routine life with his family and dreams on being successful with women.

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When a beautiful and sexy blonde lodges the upstairs apartment of his small building, Sherman first opens the front door for her and then he invites her to have a drink with him after the fall of her tomato vase on his chair on the backyard. Along the days, he spends some time with the girl and feels tempted by her, but later he misses his family and travels to meet them.

“The Seven Year Itch” is a naive and innocent romantic comedy in accordance with the contemporary moral standards, but actually this feature tested the limits of censorship in a time when Hollywood was ruled by a rigid moral code. The story is based on a George Axelrod popular 1952 Broadway play about a man that has an affair with his upstairs neighbor. Unfortunately in the 50’s, the American cinema did not have the same artistic freedom as theater.

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The screenplays and movies were submitted to the scrutiny of the powerful Hayes office, the censorship of Hollywood. There was a Production Code in Hollywood that stated that adultery should not be the subject of comedy or laughs, and this story violated the Code. Billy Wilder was fascinated by this story and purchased the rights of George Axelrod. However, to make the movie was a challenge for this great director, since many scenes and lines were ripped away by the censorship and by the National Legion of Decency, mutilating the plot.

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Marilyn Monroe was selected to the cast, but Billy Wilder wanted a plain, average and non-handsome actor for the role of Sherman. His first choice was Walter Matthaus, but Fox direction did not want to take the risk of an unknown lead actor, therefore they selected Tom Ewell. The most famous scene of Marilyn Monroe, with her dress being lifted by the air of the subway, was first an exterior scene, but later Billy Wilder needed to shot again in the set because the noise and whistles of the viewers spoiled the original footage. This external scene also provoked the end of the marriage of Marilyn with Joe Dimaggio, who felt humiliated with the manifestation of the public.

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One dialog that I particularly like is when Sherman and the blonde leave the movie theater and she says that the creature needed to be loved, in an analogy between Sherman and the creature of the black lagoon. The restored DVD is fantastic and this is the most sexually suggested role of Marilyn Monroe to date. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): “O Pecado Mora ao Lado” (“The Sin Lives on the Next Door”)

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A legendary scene, but little else to remember…

5/10
Author: Enchorde from Sweden
9 February 2010
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Recap: Richard Sherman has just sent his wife and kid away to the countryside, to let them escape an especially bad New York City heat wave. Sherman is left behind during the summer, having to work. But something else starts to occupy his mind, his new upstairs neighbor. It isn’t just anyone, but a spectacularly beautiful young woman. A model to boot. Sherman starts flirting with her, but his guilty conscience is having the best of him. Should he or should he not act on the romance with the girl upstairs.

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Comments: A rather unusual story where most of the story is played out in either Sherman’s apartment or Sherman’s imagination, as he obsesses if he should or shouldn’t act on his impulses. But unusual and original as it is, it is not that funny that one could hope for. Legendary screenwriter and director Billy Wilder spearheads this movie and that promises a lot, and it doesn’t live up to the expectations. There were a few outright laughs, it mostly made me smile a little. With Sherman’s obsessing it almost gets a little brooding instead.

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It does bear watching though, if nothing else for one famous scene where Marilyn Monroe steps out on the grating above the subway, and her dress blows up around her legs. It’s fun to have seen the original seen that has been copied and parodied countless times since.

But at almost two hours running, it is not really good enough to really carry itself. Some small moments of good jokes but otherwise it was just rather long. If you want to watch a really funny Marilyn Monroe movie I recommend Some like it hot. Also directed by Wilder it is much better.

5/10

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