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Saturday, 30 June 2012

Something's Got To Give (1962)

Star of the month... Marilyn Monroe

Something's Got To Give is Marilyn Monroe's final film, which is still incomplete.

Marilyn goes for a skinny dip
The comedy is a remake of the 1940 screwball comedy 'My Favorite Wife', and was to be directed by George Cukor and to co-star Dean MartinCyd Charisse, Phil SilversTom Tyron and Wally Cox. The film was abandoned after Marilyn's death, and the 37 minutes of footage which still survives is included in the documentary 'Marilyn: The Final Days'.

Ellen Wagstaff Arden (played by Monroe) has been lost at sea in the Pacific for five years and declared legally dead. Meanwhile her husband Nicholas Arden (played by Martin) has just remarried a new wife, Bianca (played by Charisse). Whilst they are on their honeymoon, Ellen is rescued and returns to her husband and his new wife. Upon learning Ellen had spent the past few years on a desert island with another man, Stephen Burkett (played by Tyron), Nicholas becomes jealous.

The pool scene

Marilyn filmed a scene where she appears swimming nude in a swimming pool. The studio had provided Marilyn with a flesh coloured body suit, however Marilyn took it off and was filmed wearing only bikini bottoms. Had the film been finished and released, Marilyn would have been the first mainstream film star to be appear in a Hollywood film nude.

Watch a video of The pool scene:

Production cancelled

Production of the film stopped once Cukor had filmed every scene not involving Marilyn, and she was still unavailable. As a result, 20th Century Fox fired Marilyn and replaced her with Lee Remick. This led Dean Martin to quit as his contract specified he would be starring with Marilyn. With the production already $2million over budget, Fox decided to shut down the project. Marilyn was found dead in her home less than two months later.

Happy Birthday Mr. President (1962)

Star of the month... Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn sings "Happy Birthday"
Although not a film, "Happy Birthday Mr. President" it is a very significant moment and still an iconic image of Marilyn Monroe fifty years after her death, so I thought it only appropriate to write a short blog about it, so here it goes...

On Saturday 19 May 1962, at the suggestion of actor Peter Lawford, Marilyn Monroe attended the early 4th birthday celebration of President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden in New York. 

Marilyn performed "Happy Birthday"in a sultry voice, with a specially written verse based on the Bob Hope song, "Thanks for the Memory". 

JFK thanks Marilyn
The dress Marilyn wore
 to the event
At the end of the performance, Kennedy responded with: "Thank you. I can now retire from politics after having had 'Happy Birthday' sung to me in a such a sweet, wholesome way."

Over 15,000 people attended the event - JFK's wife Jackie was not in attendance

The event is significant for two reasons...
  • it was one of Marilyn's final public appearances, before her death on 5 August 1962
  • there are rumours Marilyn and Kennedy had an affair, giving the performance a new layer of meaning

In 1999, the dress Marilyn wore (designed by Jean Louis) sold at auction for US$1.26 million.

Watch the performance on YouTube:

Early Marilyn (1947-1950) - Star of the month... Marilyn Monroe

I probably normally wouldn't publish a blog post, talking about a number of films I haven't seen. But seeing Marilyn Monroe (Star of the Month for June 2012) is such an icon, I felt it was important to pay tribute to her early film roles which I have not yet seen. Although many of these films are difficult to find in full, short clips of Marilyn's brief roles are widely available, so I thought I would link these clips with a short introduction.

The Shocking Miss Pilgrim (1947)

Marilyn's film debut was in The Shocking Miss Pilgrim (1947), in which Marilyn has a very small blink and miss her uncredited role as a Telephone Operator, saying only one line. Directed by George Seaton, the film stars Betty Grable, who would later star with Marilyn in 'How to Marry A Millionaire' (1953), and Dick Haymes.

Dangerous Years (1947)

In her second film appearance in Dangerous Years (1947), Marilyn has a very small uncredited role as Evie, a waitress in the restaurant scene.  Directed by Arthur Pierson, the film stars Billy Halop and Ann E. Todd.

Marilyn as waitress Evie in 'Dangerous Years'
While I wasn't able to find the full film, I found a brief clip of her performance on YouTube:

Green Grass of Wyoming (1948)

Marilyn has an uncredited role as a square dance extra in the western Green Grass of Wyoming (1948). Directed by Louis King, the film stars Peggy Cummins and Charles Coburn.

You Were Meant For Me (1948)

Marilyn appears briefly as an uncredited extra lady in waiting in the musical You Were Meant For Me (1948). Directed by Lloyd Bacon, the film stars Jeanne Crain and Dan Dailey.

Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! (1948)

Marilyn has another blink and miss her role in 'Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay!' (1948) as Betty. She is the parishioner walking out of the church who says "Hi Rad".  Marilyn filmed another scene for the film in a canoe, but it was cut from the film. For her work she was paid $150 a week. Directed by Hugh Herbert, the film stars June Haver and Natalie Wood.

I found a clip of Marilyn's brief role from YouTube:

Love Happy (1949)

Marilyn has a brief walk on role as Grunion's Client in the final Marx Brothers film 'Love Happy' (1949). The film was directed by David Miller.  Although Marilyn appears for less than a minute, home video releases display Marilyn's image on the cover. 

Marilyn's photo appears on a home video
release for 'Love Happy', although she
appears in the film for ~40 secs
Here is a clip of Marilyn's appearance:

A Ticket to Tomahawk (1950)

Marilyn appears briefly in 'A Ticket To Tomahawk' (1950) as showgirl Clara. Directed by Richard Sale, the film stars Dan Dailey, Anne Baxter and Rory Calhoun.

Here is a clip of Marilyn's scene from the film. She is the blonde dancer in the yellow dress.

Right Cross (1950)

Marilyn has a brief uncredited role as Dusky Ledoux opposite Dick Powell in the MGM drama 'Right Cross' (1950). The film was directed by John Sturges and co-stars June Allyson.

Here is a clip of Marilyn's appearance on YouTube:

The Fireball (1950)
Marilyn has a brief role as Polly in the 1950 drama The Fireball, starring Mickey Rooney and Pat O'Brien. The is directed by Tay Garnett.

This YouTube video presents a montage of the 6 short scenes featuring Marilyn:

Bus Stop (1956)

Star of the month... Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe and Don Murray
(with Eileen Heckart)
'Bus Stop' is a 1956 drama directed by Joshua Logan, and starring Marilyn Monroe, and Don Murray with Arthur O'Connell, Betty Field, Eileen Heckart, Robert Bray and Hope Lange.

It was the first film to be made by Marilyn's production company, Marilyn Monroe Productions.

Don Murray as Bo Decker
Beauregard "Bo" Decker (played by Murray) is an innocent cowboy who eats 3 raw beef patties and an entire bottle of milk for breakfast. Bo and his friend Virgil Blessing (played by O'Connell) take the bus from Montana to Phoenix to attend a rodeo. Whilst in Phoenix, Bo meets and falls madly in love with saloon singer Chérie (played by Monroe). Bo determined to marry Chérie, kidnaps her at the rodeo and puts her on a bus back to Montana. Due to bad weather, the bus stops at a diner owned by Grace (played by Field), where Bo, Cherie, Virgil,  bus driver Carl (played by Bray) and passenger Elma Duckworth (played by Lange) must wait until the snow clears, much to Chérie's disappointment.

Marilyn in a publicity still from the film

Musical highlight

Marilyn finally proves to the world she is more than just a pretty face, and also proves she does have acting talent in her innocent and warm portrayal of a singer travelling across the country to get to Hollywood. We are even treated with a hillbilly accent.

Marilyn Monroe as Chérie sings
"That Old Black Magic"
Although not a musical, Marilyn does sing one song: "That Old Black Magic". Marilyn deliberately provided mediocre singing and dancing skills to reflect the 
little talent of the character. Her 
Golden Globe nominated dramatic 
performance was hailed by critics.

Arthur O'Connell as Verge

Did you know...

  • This was Don Murray's first film
  • This was Hope Lange's first film
  • Co-stars Don Murray and Hope Lange later got married
  • Working title for the film includes: "The Wrong Kind of Girl"

Closing remarks

Betty Field as Grace
Although 'Bus Stop' isn't my favourite Marilyn film, it is very special to me for one reason...

It is the first Marilyn Monroe film I ever saw. I still remember being bored one Saturday night as a child, and after some channel surfing ended up watching 'Bus Stop'. 

I hadn't seen many old movies before, but something about Marilyn and her screen charisma captivated me, and she soon became and still is one of my favourite movie stars.

Queen Christina (1933)

Spotlight on... Royalty on Film

'Queen Christina' is a 1933 pre-code costume drama directed by Rouben Mamoulian, and starring the divine Greta Garbo and John Gilbert. It was the fourth and last time Garbo and Gilbert starred together in a film. In my opinion it is Greta Garbo's best film and best performance.

Greta Garbo as Queen Christina
resting her head against a pillow
The supporting cast includes Ian Keith, Lewis Stone, Elizabeth Young, C. Aubrey Smith and Reginald Owen. Look out for Akim Tamiroff who appears uncredited as Pedro.

Christina of Sweden (played by Garbo) becomes Queen as at the age of 6 following the death of her father King Gustavus Adolphus in battle. As a young woman, Christina's court and council wish her to marry her hero-cousin Karl Gustav (played by Owen) and produce an heir to the throne. 

Fed up with being told what to do, she sneaks out of the palace disguised as a man, where she meets Antonio, a stranded Spaniard. After revealing herself to be a woman, the two spend the night together and fall in love, without Antonio knowing she is the Queen. Christina eventually relinquishes her throne to marry Antonio, however their love is cut short after he is killed in battle

Greta Garbo in the film's final scene -
Possibly the most iconic image of Garbo

Two iconic scenes

'Queen Christina' features two iconic scenes:
  • The first is where Christina is shown walking around the room, following her night with Antonio - Christina touches various artefacts in the room to imprint the space on her memory
  • The second is the closing frame, showing Christina standing as a silent figurehead at the bow of the ship headed towards Spain - the camera zooms in for a close up as the wind blows through her hair

Watch the final image in the film here:

Queen Christina

Greta Garbo as Queen Christina
Queen Christina of Sweden is one of the two great Queens of the middle ages, the other being Queen Elizabeth I.

What I like most about Queen Christina is a woman of integrity and has the guts and confidence to stand up against her court and do what is right. For example, understanding the loss of life and negative impacts of war, she ends the thirty year war, and demands peace: 
"Spoils, glory, flags and trumpets! What is behind these high-sounding words? Death and destruction, triumphals of crippled men, Sweden victorious in a ravaged Europe, an island in a dead sea. I tell you, I want no more if it. I want for my people security and happiness. I want to cultivate the arts of peace, the arts of life. I want peace and peace I will have!"

Precode elements

 'Queen Christina' is considered to be what is called a Pre-Code film - films made before 1934 which were not subject to strict censorship of the Hollywood Production Code.  We are forunate the film was made in 1933, as had it been a year later, the end result would have been quite different.

Some of the notable events in the film which would not have been permitted in 1934 include:
  • Queen Christina's bisexuality - the scene where Garbo passionately kisses Countess Ebba Sparre is one of the earliest lesbian kisses in Hollywood history
  • Queen Christina cross-dressing disguised as a man
  • Queen Christina's line "I should die a bachelor!", as this presents the Queen identifying herself as a man
  • Queen Christina and Antonio sleeping in the same bed
  • Queen Christina bragging about having 12 lovers in the past month

Did you know...

  • Laurence Olivier was originally intended to play Antonio, however Greta Garbo insisted the role be given to her former frequent co-star and lover John Gilbert, whose career was declining - the film failed to revive his career and Gilbert died a few years later

Closing remarks

Whenever I think of royalty on film, Queen Christina is always the first thing which comes to mind. I really like this film a lot, and have seen it a number of times. We are treated to Garbo's haunting performance as the 17th century Queen, as well as some of the most controversial images in 1930s Hollywood.

Friday, 29 June 2012

The Prince and the Showgirl

Star of the month... Marilyn Monroe

Spotlight on... Royalty on Film

Marilyn Monroe as Elsie Marina

'The Prince and the Showgirl' is a 1957 royal romantic comedy directed by and starring Laurence Olivier with Marilyn Monroe and Sybil Thorndike.  The film was released by Marilyn's production company Marilyn Monroe Productions and is  written by Terence Rattigan, based on his 1953 play 'The Sleeping Prince'.

The film has recently received some attention in the film 'My Week with Marilyn' (2011) - this is the film Marilyn is making during the film.

Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe
as 'The Prince & the Showgirl'
King Nicholas of Capathia, and his father the Regent Prince Charles (played by Olivier) arrive in London in June 1911. Whilst the Regent is attending a musical performance of 'The Coconut Girl', he becomes interested in showgirl Elsie Marina (played by Monroe), and invites her to the embassy for "supper". The next day, the Queen Dowager (played by Thorndike) suggests Elsie should join her as a lady-in-waiting. Later that evening, the King invites Elsie to the Ball, as his partner.

Did you know...

  • The film was originally meant to be a musical, however Marilyn's then husband Arthur Miller persuaded Marilyn to lose the songs
  • This was the only film Marilyn made outside of the USA
  • Olivier played the role of The Regent opposite his real life wife Vivien Leigh

Awards and nominations
  • BAFTA nomination: Best British Actor (Laurence Olivier)
  • BAFTA nomination: Best Foreign Actress (Marilyn Monroe)
  • BAFTA nomination: Best British Film
  • BAFTA nomination: Best British Screenplay (Terence Rattigan)
  • BAFTA nomination: Best Film from any Source
  • Italian Film Academy David Di Donatello Award winner: Best Foreign Actress (Marilyn Monroe)
  • French Film Academy Crystal Star Award winner: Best Foreign Actress (Marilyn Monroe)
  • National Board of Review Award Winner - Best Supporting Actress (Sybil Thorndike)

Closing remarks

The first hour of the film is very enjoyable to watch, however the second hour is rather slow and gets boring at times. The film was originally meant to be a musical, which may have sped up the pace a little.

Elegant production design of the embassy makes this film a visual feast, with Marilyn's dazzling and delightful portrayal of the blonde bombshell. The acting highlight goes to Sybil Thorndike in her role as the deaf and witty Queen Mother.

The Misfits (1961)

Star of the month... Marilyn Monroe

The Misfits is a 1961 drama directed by John Huston and starring Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift, Eli Wallach and Thelma Ritter. The supporting cast features Kevin McCarthy and Estelle Winwood.

Marilyn Monroe as Roslyn Taber
This film is very significant for two reasons...

  • it was Marilyn's last completed film (her final film 'Something's Got To Give' was never finished)
  • it was Clark Gable's final film - he died of a heart attack a few days before filming was completed
It was also Montgomery Clift's third to last film.

Although the film was not a success on its initial release, it is now praised by many film critics, and considered to be one of both Monroe and Gable's greatest dramatic performances

The screenplay was written by Marilyn's then husband Arthur Miller, based on his short story. Miller  got the premise idea from some divorced women and cowboys he befriended whilst living in Nevada.

Roslyn Taber (played by Monroe) is boarding with Isabelle Steers (played by Ritter) while she's getting a divorce. Together they meet cowboys Gay Langland (played by Gable) and Guido (played by Wallach), and alcoholic rodeo performer Perce Howard (played by Clift). 

'The Misfits' is beautifully filmed in the Nevada desert.

Did you know...

  • As of June 2012, star Eli Wallach is still alive at the age of 96
  • Director John Huston has an uncredited cameo as an extra in the black jack scene

Closing remarks

With so many Hollywood greats making very bad movies in their late careers, 'The Misfits' is a great swan song for both Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable, and a fantastic way to celebrate their acting legacies.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

That's Entertainment III (1994) - Star of the month... Marilyn Monroe

"The song has ended but the melody lingers on..." - Gene Kelly (in 'That's Entertainment III')

'That's Entertainment III' is a 1995 documentary reuniting 9 legendary MGM stars, Ann Miller, Cyd Charisse, Debbie Reynolds, Esther Williams, Gene Kelly, Howard Keel, June Allyson, Lena Horne and Mickey Rooney.

Released 18 years after 'That's Entertainment, Part II' (1976), and to celebrate the 70th anniversary of MGM, 'That's Entertainment III' explores the MGM musical a little further than the previous films, by not showing clips from nearly 100 MGM musicals, but also a selection of unused musical numbers for the first time. 

Highlights from 'That's Entertainment, Part II'

  • Overture - As with the two previous films, an overture welcomes us to this theatrical experience
  • 'That's Entertainment III' opens with Fred Astaire singing "Here's to the Girls" from 'Ziegfeld Follies' (1945)
  • First up is Gene Kelly, who provides us with the origins of the MGM musicals, with popular vaudeville acts being filmed in 'The Hollywood Revue' (1929), and the introduction of the Hays Production Code, which led to the casting of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy is a series of family-friendly and compliant musicals
  • Judy Garland & Mickey Rooney with their lively rendition of "Good Morning", from 'Babes in Arms' (1939)
  • We are shown behind the scenes footage into how Eleanor Powell's "Fascinating Rhythm" number from 'Lady Be Good' (1941) was filmed
  • Esther Williams introduces us to her giant swimming pool tank, and gives some background as to how her extravagant ballet sequences were filmed, treating us to her personal favourite clips from her wonderful films
  • June Allyson talks to us about the screen test process, and we see June in action singing "The Three B's" in 'Best Foot Forward' with Nancy Walker and Gloria De Haven
  • Cyd Charisse performing "Baby You Knock Me Out" in 'It's Always Fair Weather' (1955)
  • Cyd Charisse shows us the scenic background building at MGM, and presents a loving tribute to the films of Gene Kelly
  • Gene Kelly & Cyd Charisse's pas de deux "The Heather on the Hill" from 'Brigadoon' (1954), revealed to be Charisse's favourite dance with Gene
  • Debbie Reynolds talks to us about classic leading ladies and gowns by the famed designer Adrian, through clips of Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich, Grace Kelly, Jean Harlow, Angela Lansbury, Elizabeth Taylor and Marion Davies
  • A special montage is presented showcasing the best of latin/tropical talent, including Xavier Cugat, Ricardo Montalban and Carmen Miranda (with a memorable clip of Mickey Rooney impersonating Miranda in drag)
  • Lena Horne shares her emotional struggle as an African American performer during the 1940s, which led to her usually making a brief walk-on singing performance, before exiting immediately after her number - she also reveals she was not permitted to play the role of Julie LaVerne in 'Showboat' (1951), due to the Hays Production Code not permitting interracial relationships
  • Lena Horne singing "Just One of Those Things" from 'Panama Hattie' (1941)
  • We are shown a deleted Lena Horne song from the film 'Cabin in the Sky' called "Ain't It The Truth" - cut because MGM felt it would be too risque showing an African American woman taking a bubble bath
  • Ava Gardner's vocals for "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" in 'Show Boat' (1952) - in the film her vocals were dubbed
  • The tragic story of Judy Garland's brief stint in 'Annie, Get Your Gun' in 1950, before she was fired - we see two filmed numbers "I'm An Indian Too" and "Doin' What Comes Naturally" for the first time
  • Mickey Rooney appears to give an inspiring tribute to his good friend Judy Garland
  • Judy Garland singing "Who?" in 'Till the Clouds Roll By' (1946)
  • An unreleased Judy Garland song from 'Easter Parade' (1948) called "Mr. Monotony" - in my opinion, the best number filmed and I am baffled as to why it was cut
  • An unreleased Judy Garland song from 'The Harvey Girls' (1946) called "March of the Doagies"
  • Ann Miller (My personal favourite MGM star) gives a tribute to dancing legend Fred Astaire, who by now had passed away
  • Ann Miller singing "Shakin' the Blues Away" in 'Easter Parade' (1948)
  • Howard Keel takes us on a brief tour of the MGM film vault, and talks to us about new technology such as CinemaScope and Stereophonic Sound, designed to combat the threat of television... we are appropriately shown footage of the song "Stereophonic Sound" from 'Silk Stockings' (1957)
  • Howard Keel & Betty Hutton singing "Anything You Can Do I Can Better" in 'Annie, Get Your Gun' (1950)
  • The demise of the MGM musical is discused, including some memorable clips from some of the last big MGM hits, Elvis Presley singing the title song from 'Jailhouse Rock' (1957), Doris Day singing "Shakin' the Blues Away" from 'Love Me or Leave Me' (1955), and the title track from the Oscar winning 'Gigi' (1958)
  • What better way to close the film than with a brief conclusion from Mr. Entertainment himself, Gene Kelly, in what is among the last bits of footage filmed of him
  • And the finale... "That's Entertainment!" from 'The Bandwagon' (1955)

Featured performers (in alphabetical order):

Adrian, George K. Arthur, Fred Astaire, Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, Ingrid Bergman, Ray Bolger, Joseph Breen, Lucille Bremer, Jack Buchanan, Billie Burke, Leslie Caron, Cyd Charisse, Claudette Colbert, Joan Crawford, Bing Crosby, Xavier Cugat, Arlene Dahl, Marion Davies, Doris Day, Gloria DeHaven, Marlene Dietrich, Beth Dodge, Betty Dodge, Marie Dressler, Rosetta Duncan, Vivian Duncan, Jimmy Durante, Buddy Ebsen, Nelson Eddy, Cliff Edwards, Nanette Fabray, The Five Locust Sisters, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, Ava Gardner, Judy Garland, Betty Garrett, Greer Garson, Paulette Goddard, Dolores Gray, Kathryn Grayson, Oliver Hardy, Jean Harlow, Katharine Hepburn, Bob Hope, Lena Horne, Betty Hutton, Harry James, Betty Jaynes, Louis Jourdan, Buster Keaton, Howard Keel, Grace Kelly, The King's Men, Hedy Lamarr, Angela Lansbury, Stan Laurel, Vivien Leigh, Oscar Levant, Carole Lombard, Myrna Loy, Jeanette MacDonald, Tony Martin, Joan McCracken, Ray McDonald, Douglas McPhail, Una Merkel, Ann Miller, Carmen Miranda, Marilyn Monroe, Ricardo Montalban, Polly Moran, Jules Munshin, George Murphy, J. Carrol Naish, Donald O'Connor, Janis Paige, Jack Pearl, Eleanor Powell, Jane Powell, William Powell, Elvis Presley, Luise Rainer, Debbie Reynolds, Ginger Rogers, Mickey Rooney, Aggie Ross, Elmira Ross, Maggie Ross, Rosaline Russell, Norma Shearer, Frank Sinatra, Ann Sothern, Clinton Sundberg, Don Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor, Lana Turner, Lupe Velez, Vera-Ellen, Nancy Walker, Esther Williams, Francis Williams, Chill Wills, Harry Wilson, Robert Young, Roland Young

Did you know...

  • This was Gene Kelly's final screen appearance
  • Gene Kelly is the only star to host all three 'That's Entertainment' films
  • This was Debbie Reynolds' and Mickey Rooney's second time hosting a 'That's Entertainment' film

Closing remarks

Gene Kelly on the set of 'That's Entertainment III'
My favourite of all the 'That's Entertainment' films. What I like most about Part III is the presenters are all MGM musical stars, whereas Part I featured some stars who didn't make many MGM films (Bing Crosby, Donald O'Connor) or stars who didn't make many musicals (Elizabeth Taylor, James Stewart). 

Who better to present the best of MGM musicals than Ann Miller (my favourite MGM star), Esther Williams, June Allyson, Lena Horne and of course Gene Kelly!

The only bad thing about 'That's Entertainment Part III' is we are yet to see a part 4.

As of June 2012, there are a small number of MGM stars who could feature in a Part 4: Leslie Caron, Doris Day, Liza Minnelli, Marge Champion, Debbie Reynolds, Jane Powell, Esther Williams, Carleton Carpenter, Nanette Fabray, Mickey Rooney, Russ Tamblyn and Tommy Rall. That said, time is running out and sadly there may no more "That's Entertainment!"

The Seven Year Itch (1955)

Star of the month... Marilyn Monroe

"When it's hot like this, do you know what I do? I keep my undies in the inbox."

The Seven Year Itch is a 1955 comedy directed by Billy Wilder and starring Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell. The supporting cast includes Evelyn Keys and Carolyn Jones.

This film is contains one of the most iconic images of the 20th century... the infamous scene of Marilyn's white dress blowing up by the air from the subway grating.

The amusing sex farce depicts the troubles of a middle aged married man and is based on the successful Broadway play of the same name by George Axelrod.

Marilyn stars as The Girl (with no name)
Richard Sherman (played by Ewell) sends his wife Helen (played by Keyes) and son away to Maine for the Summer. Meanwhile The Girl (the character has no official name - played by Marilyn) rents the apartment directly above Richard.  Consequently Richard gives a new meaning to the saying when the wife's away, the man will play, by overtly flirting with The Girl and engaging in a number of sexual fantasies.

The cast

Tom Ewell is perfectly cast in the film, reprising his stage role of Sherman.
Marilyn tickles, sizzles and tantalises with her sexy yet innocent portrayal as the girl upstairs.

Carolyn Jones (best known for playing Morticia Addams in the 1960's version of The Addams Family) has an amusing cameo as an oversexed nurse, Miss Finch, in one of Richard's dreams.


Although innocent and tame by today's standards, 'The Seven Year Itch' pushed the limits while it is being filmed and was extremely controversial, with Hollywood censors closely watching the filming.

The film shocked audiences with its explicit footage of marital infidelity, breaching the Hays Production Code stating adultery must never be used for comedy or ridicule. In the stage play, Richard has an affair with The Girl, whereas in the film, only a fantasy is implied.

The Catholic Legion of Decency also condemned the film and discoraged Catholics from attending the film.

Marilyn's skirt blowing scene

Despite the film's poster and iconic image, this is as high
as the dress blows up in the final film
The infamous skirt blowing scene was filmed on Lexington Avenue at 52nd Street in New York City. A large crowd watched the filming, including Marilyn's infuriated husband Joe DiMaggio, who separated from Marilyn shortly after. Marilyn wore two pairs of undies to ensure her modesty was protected.

Did you know...

  • Walter Matthau screen tested for the role of Richard Sherman
  • Tom Ewell never watched any of his films, including this one, as he did not a fan of film as an art form, and preferred acting on the stage
  • This was one of Evelyn Keyes' final major film roles
  • The exterior location of Richard's apartment is 164 East 61st St, Manhattan

Awards and nominations

  • Golden Globe Award winner - Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy (Tom Ewell)
  • Directors Guide of America Award nomination (Billy Wilder)

Closing remarks

'The Seven Year Itch' is truly a fun film to watch over and over again. Marilyn superbly plays the blonde bimbo, and immortalised herself with the famous skirt blowing scene. In my opinion this is Marilyn's funniest film (even funnier than 'Some Like It Hot').  I recommend 'The Seven Year Itch' to anyone who enjoys a good laugh.