The Seven Year Itch
It’s hard to believe, but I had never seen this one. It’s a Billy Wilder comedy, and I love Wilder, have seen almost everything he ever made, in America anyway. It’s based on a hit Broadway play that ran over 1,000 performances. But the code of the day meant the sexual situations and innuendo had to be toned down considerably, much to Wilder’s annoyance. Tom Ewell managed to get cast in the role he originated, which is a surprise, as he was a supporting player all his life. You’d have thought they would have replaced him with a bigger name. But they didn’t, they replaced the girl (who is never named) with Marilyn Monroe who, I guess, is perfect for a part that is essentially nothing but a male fantasy. In fact, there is a theory that she was meant to be imaginary. I don’t know if the writers had anything so deep in mind, but it sure would fit with Ewell’s rich Walter Mitty fantasy life. The problem, for me, is that the schtick here is Ewell’s constant monologue to himself. He speaks his every thought. That works well for about half an hour, then it begins to seem rather relentless, and finally it just grated on my nerves. This is the movie containing the famous shot of Marilyn’s skirt being blown up by a passing subway. (That was on the poster, anyway, though in the movie we only see her from the waist down.) They shot it in New York, but the footage didn’t satisfy Wilder, so they built a set in Hollywood and did it again. And after 40 agonizing takes, Marilyn finally got her lines right.