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Thursday, 12 July 2012

The Seven Year Itch (1955) - Spotlight on... Trailblazers

Spotlight on... Trailblazers

"When it's hot like this, do you know what I do? I keep my undies in the inbox." - Marilyn Monroe (as The Girl)

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.

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