director Billy Wilder
It may not be among Billy Wilder’s best films, but I became enamored of The Seven Year Itch and have long counted it among my favorite movies. Of that hardly complete nor organized list of favorites is the other Billy Wilder/Marilyn Monroe movie, the superior and wonderful Some Like It Hot (1959), which, unlike The Seven Year Itch, was a favorite since my earliest years. My first movie star crush was on Monroe’s Sugar Kane. Either her or Julia Adams from The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954).
I got hooked on The Seven Year Itch somewhere along the way in the 1980’s or 1990’s, catching it on AMC back when AMC played actual American movie classics uncut and uninterrupted by commercial. It was one of those movies that I would stumble upon and wind up watching all the way through. And I came to enjoy it more and more.
Tom Ewell is a lot of fun as the husband at home in New York City on his lonesome for the summer while his wife and “space cadet” kid are upstate on vacation. His Walter Mitty-like fantasies run amok, imagining all kinds of affairs, both his and his wife’s, and other whimsies painted out. But when Marilyn Monroe shows up as the sexy neighbor upstairs, in perhaps her most affable and iconic dumb blonde role, that seven year itch gets going.
Apparently, the film was tamed a good deal by the Hays office, stymieing the the sex into innuendo and declawing the story. Still, Monroe is such a riveting screen presence, voluptuous and kittenish, a cartoon fantasy still alive in her reality. I was a bit reminded of Tex Avery in the storytelling and style, like his T.V. of Tomorrow (1953), with the fantasy elements spreading out across the CinemaScope width. Heck, even the joke in the film about CinemaScope.
One thing that annoyed me was the when the film opens, the version was in CinemaScope, featuring the animated credit sequence by Saul Bass (fantastic!), but then cropped down to a “normal” letterbox format. Which was oddly bizarre. Not fullscreen but still rectangular? And the images were clearly all cropped with some really wonky bits. Wilder was using the full scope of CinemaScope. Super annoying in my humble little opinion.
This was a rainy day watch for me and the kids. An unusual little streak of re-watching a handful of my favorite films and showing them to the kids for the first time. I spend most of my time watching movies that I haven’t seen.
Still a favorite.