The Seven Year Itch (1955)

The Seven Year Itch (1955)
 
 
 

Home Alone in Hot Manhattan

Hey, did you ever try dunking a potato chip in champagne? It's real crazy - The Girl

Marilyn Monroe as The Girl in The Seven Year Itch (1955)

Maybe it's because I wasn't born till the 70s, maybe it is something else, but I often struggle to get enjoyment out of those prominent and popular movies from the 50s. "The Seven Year Itch" is one of those notable movies which I just don't really get, yes I sort of enjoy it but other than the iconic Marilyn Monroe skirt scene there is for me very little which real grabs me and makes it a real knockout movie.

During the sweltering summer heat in Manhattan, Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell - American Guerrilla in the Philippines) does what most men do and send their wives and children off on holiday away from the incessant heat. But unlike many of the men who pack their wives off he has no plans of chasing skirt and committing adultery. That is until he meets his new sexy neighbour, The Girl (Marilyn Monroe - River of No Return) who fuels his already over active imagination leading him to contemplate being unfaithful.

What is very apparent is that "The Seven Year Itch" has its roots on the stage with its wordy scenes and minimal locations. From what I understand in the adaptation from stage to screen it was seriously neutered, aspects of infidelity and adultery had to be cut to appease the censors, which is a shame because quite literally "The Seven Year Itch" feels like nothing more than a neutered rom-com desperate to be risque but abrupty stopping when ever it gets to close to the mark.

Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell in The Seven Year Itch (1955)

It ends up becoming quite strange as whilst the subject of adultery is raised it quite literally doesn't go anywhere or at least anywhere in the least bit interesting. The whole movie ends up struggling to capture your attention especially during the first half which relies heavily on Tom Ewell as Richard Sherman to entertain from his imaginative ramblings as he is home alone in hot Manhattan. It doesn't quite work, or at least not in the same manner that I am sure the stage version did as it becomes repetitive.

It's not until the second half of "The Seven Year Itch" that it kicks in to gear and becomes entertaining, as locations change and a couple of extra characters enter the story. The interactions between Tom Ewell and Marilyn Monroe are at times priceless as Richard's vivid imagination fuels his inept attempts to seduce 'The Girl' as Marilyn is known, as well as her own air headed contributions as the slightly naive neighbour.

It's not all good and a lot of Marilyn's performance feels completely manufactured to the point where her naivety is too much dumb blond and begins to grate. Even the famous skirt scene over a subway vent in the path really doesn't add that much to "The Seven Year Itch" other than an eye catching image for the posters. Plus whilst Tom Ewell does his best to lead the movie, well he just doesn't quite have the charm or likeability to really pull it off. It doesn't help matters that for the most the comedy is too sign posted making it all unnatural.

What this all boils down to is that "The Seven Year Itch" whilst a popular movie for many doesn't quite do it for me. Its seemingly neutered adaptation from the stage leaves it wanting of something more, something controversial to make all the talk of adultery worth while instead of turning it into a tame rom-com. As for Marilyn Monroe, well her performance came across as more dumb blond than slightly naive temptress and other than the skirt scene there is little which is honestly that memorable.