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William Kellys War
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Monday, October 20, 2014 - Edition No 919 

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SEVEN YEAR ITCH, THE [1955]

SYNOPSIS:
Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell) is a middle-aged Manhattan publishing executive with a wife and young son. When his family goes away for the summer he is determined to lead a sensible life, and not smoke, drink, or play around like other men. But his good intentions fly out the window when he meets the new tenant in the upstairs apartment a sexy yet oddly innocent blonde (Marilyn Monroe) who advertises toothpaste on TV. Gaga with lust, Richard's imagination starts playing tricks on him making him wonder whether he should run away and join his family before he succumbs to the seven year itch.

Here's one from the 50s time capsule. After a prologue designed to show that nothing has changed for the last five hundred years, we're ushered into a lost world of wage-slave Manhattan executives whose wives go upstate for the summer, leaving their horny husbands free to drool over their nubile secretaries and other passing fancies (though of course the Hollywood censorship code ensures an absence of actual sex). Mainly known for the famous production still of Marilyn Monroe's skirt blowing up over a grating, The Seven Year Itch is certainly a key film for the classic Monroe image: she was never photographed more leeringly, or made to seem more of a cartoon sex doll (though even here she transcends the stereotype). The sequence where she and Tom Ewell struggle to open a champagne bottle is a masterpiece of innuendo it's no surprise when Ewell has to be counselled later by a comic psychoanalyst (another 50s staple). Fans of retro kitsch will have fun with touches like the then-daring references to a couple of interior decorators living upstairs, but this is actually one of Billy Wilder's lesser comedies of the period, and seems much more dated now than A Foreign Affair, Love In The Afternoon, or Some Like It Hot. Demonstrating Wilder's ability to alter his style to suit different female stars, it's also one of his least typical films, oscillating between colorful comic spectacle (with numerous fantasy sequences and movie parodies) and a confining structure all too clearly derived from George Axlerod's original play. What this means in practice is that for every good scene with Monroe, we have to sit through way too much of Tom Ewell trudging around his apartment, flaring his nostrils and talking to himself out loud. On video it's possible to fast-forward through this stuff, but really the movie needs to be seen in the original Cinemascope and Technicolor, so it's worth taking the opportunity to check out this re-release (and the stylish credit sequence by Saul Bass is an added bonus).
Jake Wilson



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

SEVEN YEAR ITCH, THE (M) 1955
( US)

CAST: Marilyn Monroe, Tom Ewell, Evelyn Keyes, Sonny Tufts

DIRECTOR: Billy Wilder

PRODUCER: Charles K. Feldman, Billy Wilder

SCRIPT: Billy Wilder, George Axelrod (play and script)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Milton R. Krasner

EDITOR: Hugh S. Fowler

MUSIC: Alfred Newman

RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Twentieth Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 5, 2001 Melbourne; July 26, 2001 - Sydney







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