Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Seven Year Itch (1955)

“I think it's wonderful that you're married! I think it's just elegant!”

            Ever since I first heard about The Seven Year Itch I had a curiosity to see it but I never understood what was so great about Marilyn Monroe and up until two years ago I had only ever seen clips of her and I did not think she was too great. Two years later I have seen six Marilyn Monroe films and actually do not mind her acting. I really became curious about seeing this film after watching the TV show Smash which was about the making of a musical based on Marilyn Monroe’s life. Of course they had to create a musical number/scene based on the famous scene from this film where her dress blows up (by the way if anyone watched this show I was totally Team Karen). I have now finally satisfied my curiosity by watching The Seven Year Itch and I loved it.
            We hear a voice over tells us that when the Indians were the only ones settled in Manhattan they used to send their wives away for the summer while they stayed home and hunted and fished. In the modern era man still sent his wife away for the summer only now they send the wife and kids away for the summer to beat the heat while the man stays and works in hot offices. While the old ball and chain is away the men of New York City run wild. Richard Sherman is one man of thousands that has sent his wife and son away to a cooler area of the north east. Before she goes away, Helen tells Richard to remember not to smoke or drink like the doctor told him and to not stay up or out too late.
            Richard works at a publishing firm that publishes twenty-five cent paperback books in drug stores. His first day without Helen and their son goes alright, you can tell he is not happy. He goes to a vegetarian place for dinner, goes home to a quiet house only to trip over his son’s roller skate, and drinks a soda instead of a real to sit down and read a book his firm might publish. The front door to the building rings. He lets in a beautiful woman (Monroe). The Girl took his upstairs neighbors’ apartment for the summer while they are away in Europe. When Richard goes back into his apartment he cannot stop thinking of The Girl.
            Richard decides to sit outside on the terrace to read the manuscript. As he sits by himself he imagines that Helen is sitting across from him and he tries to convince her that (as well as himself) that women throw themselves at him. The conversation does not go very well neither is one is convinced women go crazy for him. Richard gets up from his chair to put something in his soda when a potted plant come crashing down through the chair from the upstairs apartment. He starts yelling forgetting The Girl is the one in the apartment. She comes to the balcony and apologizes. As soon as he sees her face he stops yelling and becomes putty. Richard asks The Girl to come down for drinks.
            While he is waiting for The Girl, Richard walks around the house frantically thinking what to do and what to play on the record player. He imagine she likes an old opera and fantasizes about her coming in a tiger print dress all sexy and slinky and saying how much she loves the opera then she sits next to him and they kiss. The doorbell rings. The Girl comes in wearing a nice pink pant and jacket outfit. She is so excited to see Richard has an air conditioning unit in his living room the apartment where she is staying has none. The Girl tells Richard that she is an actress in a commercial on a weekly TV show and that a few years ago she was named Miss Body in a photography book. She comes up with the idea to bring down champagne and chips from her apartment. Richard has the book The Girl is in and happily looks at her photograph. The Girl comes back down with her champagne and chips and a beautiful dress. She tells Richard she could not drink champagne without wearing a dress. While they are talking she notices that Richard is wearing a wedding ring. She is so happy to see that Richard is married because there is no way he can ask her to marry him. As they play the piano together Richard tries to kiss her.
            The next day Richard tries to get his boss, Mr. Bradley, to give him two weeks off so he can go up to Maine with his family he does not trust himself to be alone anymore. Mr. Bradley has been having the time of his life since he wife and kids went away. He will not let Richard go he tells him to relax and have a good time alone. Richard goes back to his office to read some of the manuscript he was supposed to have read the night before. There is one chapter that talks about how men of middle age start going through the Seven Year Itch where they go do wild things and chase women. Richard realizes he has been married for seven years. Richard is now worried that The Girl is going to tell someone about what he did to her at the piano and then it will get out all over New York City. He imagines her telling fifty million viewers on TV when she does her commercial and his wife and son find out that way.
            When Richard gets home he tries to call Helen to speak to her but someone tells him she is out with a guy friend. Now Richard imagines Helen and the other guy out on a hay ride and they kiss. To get back at his fantasy of Helen with another man he calls The Girl to go to out to a movie. On the way home from the movie Richard asks her if the toothpaste she advertises really works. To prove it The Girl kisses him. Back at the apartment The Girl is thinking out loud to herself about how she will stay cool when she goes to bed that night since her apartment is so hot. Richard is talking about psychoanalysis. Neither one is listening to the other. She asks Richard if she could stay the night in his apartment for the air conditioning. He agrees but she has to sneak out early the next morning and then he worries himself to exhaustion thinking if someone were to see her leave so early in the morning. While is worrying The Girl opens the ceiling where the stairs end in Richard’s apartment (the apartments used to be a town house until the owner turned it into a duplex. The stairs in Richard’s house lead to the ceiling) and sneaks down.
            Now all Richard worries about is Helen coming home and finding The Girl in their shower. He dreams that Helen comes home and shoots him for cheating on her. Richard has enough and decides to leave for Maine to see Helen and their son for two weeks. He allows The Girl to spend the two weeks in his apartment so she has air conditioning.
            I adored Marilyn Monroe in this film. She was so perfect for the part. Monroe had just the right amount of cuteness and her comedic timing was awesome. Tom Ewell played the part of Richard Sherman in the Broadway play. Like Monroe he was perfect for his part. Every one of his scenes were hilarious. I was dying laughing when he was imagining he was talking to Helen out on the terrace. There was another scene I cracked up with- he imagined him and The Girl as if they were in the famous beach scene in From Here to Eternity. Both of them were so awkward in it you have to laugh when you see it.
            Billy Wilder’s direction is just genius. I like the way he directed Marilyn Monroe. He made her look like a real person not just a sex object in this film as well as in Some Like It Hot. I can imagine a man liking a sweet, cute girl like Marilyn Monroe here. Wilder also go into Richard’s head. You feel nervous watching and listening to Richard while laughing at the same time.

            The Seven Year Itch is a fantastic film. The comedy does not let up for one moment with its witty dialogue and quick pace. I was honestly laughing from beginning to end. There are several lines that you have to listen to they are said so quickly and so dryly. The Seven Year Itch is one of a dozen classic comedies I wish could be made today. It was risqué with some of its dialogue and scenes but it never went over the top everything about it was perfect. Comedies today do not need to show nudity or curse to be funny subtlety is just as hilarious and even more so. I highly recommend watching The Seven Year Itch it is so enjoyable.