The Seven Year Itch (1955)
I’ve been meaning to watch this for sometime, I am fascinated to see how Marilyn Monroe’s on screen image developed up to her early death in 1963. Here in another Billy Wilder comedy The Seven Year Itch (1955). By the time of its release Monroe’s public image had been sealed as a blond bombshell and very little else, unable to grow as an actress up until her death.
Focusing on the film now which struggled with the Hays Code to even get made, after taking the smash-hit Broadway play about a husband who has an affair whilst his family are away took on a new form, mostly in the shape of Monroe opposite the plays original leading man Tom Ewell (Richard Sherman) who struggles to control himself in the face of overwhelming passions and beauty that lives upstairs.
Plagued not only by the temptations of upstairs his is own worst enemy, his imagination which we see projected throughout the film. We can see where compromises where made and to great effect, as if his conscience and that of the production code come together to produce some funny moments. Whilst almost blissfully unaware is the naive Girl (Monroe) who is just enjoying herself. Something that Richard is all to aware of, getting carried away in his actions not long after he has waved his family on holiday during the heat wave in Manhattan. Already trying not to smoke or drink, another temptation is laid at his door (balcony).
We follow this man as he tries to get on with his life whilst his family are way, faced with such beauty, knowing that other men are already having their cake and eating it. For me its the effect of Sherman’s imagination that runs away with him all the time that is his worst enemy, as we see for ourselves, the influence of other mediums such as books and films has affected his own imagination to the point where he looses all contact with reality at times. It also personifies the worlds relationship between the world and Monroe which lead to her sad death 8 years later. With the subway dress scene which help cement her public image, an image she was sadly trapped in.
All to great comical effect in Wilder fashion, leaning over the edge of perceived public decency, giving the audience what it wants. Especially those who may have seen the Broadway play to now see the film adaptation, a completely different piece, full of compromise that is overcome in the form of Monroe who is hard to ignore from her presence to her actions that forgive it all. The affair never really happens, nothing unadulterated really happens, it all suggestive and in the mind of Sherman and the viewer which understands bringing their own take on what happens.
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