Saturday, August 25, 2012

Review: The Seven Year Itch (1955)

Ewell and Monroe in Wilder's classic comedy.

Directed by Billy Wilder
Produced by Billy Wilder and Charles K. Feldman
Written by Billy Wilder and George Axelrod (adaptation); George Axelrod (play)
Starring Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell


Billy Wilder's notorious film features Tom Ewell as an average working man, named Richard Sherman, who lives in New York. He's a man who goes home to the wife and kids every day after a long stint at the office, and a man who has grown tired of the mundane routine of his life. However, he and all the other working men in New York always send their wives and children away for summer vacation, leaving their homes empty for a few months. When the cat's away, the mice will play, no? That's the attitude that most of these men take. But not Sherman. He's different. That is, until he meets "The Girl" (Monroe) staying in the apartment above him. When she nearly kills him with a tomato plant, this leads to a series of discreet, hilarious encounters between the two. The titular "itch" refers to the point at which boredom sets in after seven years of marriage, increasing the chances of infidelity, which occurs frequently according to the film. With his family away for the summer, can Sherman avoid the "itch", or will he succumb to temptation?

Widely recognized for its shot of Marilyn Monroe's dress flying up from the subway breeze, the film is actually worthy of larger praise. The humorous script is filled with Wilder's light touch, which shines through in the scenes between Sherman and "The Girl". Ewell, also known for his performance in Adam's Rib, is quite good as a man fighting for control of his animal instincts. He is perfectly suited to Wilder's dialogue, and his comedic timing is impeccable. And Monroe is, of course, completely lovable and the highlight of the film. Forget Sugar, Roslyn, and Cherie. She gives her best performance as "The Girl". Monroe personifies all the qualities of such an enigmatic character, being funny, free-spirited, playful, perceptive, strong, caring, and absolutely stunning. Make no mistake: this is not a one-note performance by any means. Like the best of Wilder's films, Itch is full of charming scenes that make the film one to be watched again and again. This is no hard-hitting piece of cinema, but it is a delightful look at sex in society. While Wilder and Ewell are in fine form, Monroe is the ultimate reason to see this classic film.

Oscar Tally: None (Ewell did win a Golden Globe though.)


  1. I don't know how I've missed seeing this movie for so long. Great review! I love your description of Monroe's character.

    1. Thanks! I hadn't seen it either. It's definitely going on my top 100 list when I update it.

  2. This is to me Marilyn's best performance as well, though her second best film.

    1. Glad we agree on her performance. I think she's unfairly overlooked, as is the film.