Movie Review: The Seven Year Itch (1955)

Title: The Seven Year Itch
Release Date: June 3, 1955
Director: Billy Wilder
Production Company: Charles K. Feldman Group Productions

One of my great discoveries of watching lots of classic movies over the past couple of years is learning how Billy Wilder has directed some of the greatest films of all time.  Unfortunately, The Seven Year Itch is not one of them.  The movie begins with an obnoxious stereotype of the Native peoples of Manhattan that doesn’t even have anything to do with the rest of the movie.  It follows with a scene of men delivering their wives and children to Penn Station for their summer vacations and then joining a gang leer at the attractive younger women passing through.  This is one of those movies where it’s supposed to satirize the worst behaviors of masculinity but somehow just ends up presenting those behaviors.

Tom Ewell stars Richard Sherman a middle-aged executive who is among the men staying in the City when his family goes on vacation. He thinks very highly of his attractiveness to women and has vivid fantasies of extra-marital romance (as well as paranoid fantasies of what would happen to him if he gets caught).  These fantasies and Sherman’s ongoing monologue make up the bulk of the movie and really are a drag.

Luckily, this movie has Marilyn Monroe who plays the attractive young woman staying in apartment upstairs from Sherman.  Monroe’s character isn’t given a name but in a great meta moment Sherman says she could be Marilyn Monroe.  Literally everything else that’s funny in this movie comes from Monroe’s performance.  Her character’s naivety perfectly balances Sherman’s endless plotting.  And she gets all the best one-liners such as “When it gets hot like this, you know what I do? I keep my undies in the icebox!” and “Hey, did you ever try dunking a potato chip in champagne? It’s real crazy!” Well, it’s all in the delivery

This is a movie that fans of Billy Wilder and Marilyn Monroe will want to watch this movie, for completionist sake, if nothing else.  But I feel that overall whatever intentions of making a good comedy/satire really fell flat.

Rating: **1/2