The Seven Year Itch Reviews
He's so on the edge of this fourth wall he even breaks it when McKenzie arrives and asks who the blonde in the kitchen is, to which Sherman replies, "who knows? Maybe it's Marilyn Monroe!" Wilder's not being shy here, he's telling you that he's got you grasped by the balls, no secret.
Sherman is a man absolutely, dangerously, and hilariously convinced by his delusions.
Alfred Newman's ominous, meddling score over Sherman's paranoid ramblings are so imbued with classic disharmony that I can't help but lose my breath laughing. Mix that with Young Frankenstein-like elongated "hhhhmmmmmm" groans coming from Sherman and this makes for a fine soundtrack.
Why does it seem like everyone is anxious to be in an affair? Am I the only decent man? My boss. My Mr. Fix It. The men at the train station chasing the blonde. This must be what Sherman is thinking.
I wish we got to see more, it needed to be about 6 minutes longer. Two scenes with McKenzie wasn't enough, we needed one more to round him out. He brought this big burly clean cut charisma to the film that just one more scene, another daydream, would've benefitted. I'd like to see the reality of his wife once more, since we only saw her in reality once, and the rest was heightened delusion. It would've been nice to see how the real person turned out, and to have Sherman face her. Had she never started on screen, this conclusion would be more sensible. But the fact is she was there from the get go.
Stairs to nowhere is a brilliant device. First, it's an oddity, the kind of thing you find at the Winchester Mansion in California, where ghosts dwell. And how it's used is eerily similar, Monroe appears glowing down the stairs, having figured a way to his apartment from upstairs so they don't get caught by neighbors. Was there a hatch to another floor before? Is this real? Certainly we've gotten enough of Sherman's overactive imagination to believe that's all this is, another fantasy. But the next morning we find him on the couch, after a night full of paddle-wrapping, and suspensefully wait to see if he's simply there because he worked too hard, or because that other person is in his bed. The answer is not disappointing.
Paddle is another brilliant symbol. It's like he's rowing against the current that's inevitably leading towards making it with Monroe, which is actually seeming like a possibility as she further advances towards him. Can he possibly steer the other way, against all forces - his attraction, his boss, his love of freedom from family - to make it back to his family and resist Monroe? The paddle gives him a simultaneous obstacle and objective, the form changes. At first an obstacle, this extra bit of weight to carry around - I burst out laughing when he hit the fan on his way out of the diner. But when he learns his son can't join the others rowing, he has the goal of getting it to him, which is then met with another obstacle in wrapping it. Just like tides themselves, the nature of the paddle ebbs and flows between obstacle and objective, until finally he decides that delivering it himself will reunite him with his family and keep him from infidelity.
It hurts to speak positively of something it's maker is ashamed of. It's the guilt of enjoying Spartacus, while at the same time being aware that it's not fully a Kubrick film, and that in his total control it'd probably be better. But with Seven Year Itch, I wholeheartedly disagree with Billy Wilder's disownership of the film. Wilder disowned it because it didn't follow the original play in which he has the affair; Twentieth Century Fox wouldn't let it roll that way. I think that's too dark a road, it takes away the playfulness, skirting around the edge of danger like a cat. It's frustrating Wilder takes this position and cannot see the right pieces fell in place. Isn't it enough that Sherman defied Helen by smoking and drinking? What does going all the way accomplish? Even Kubrick steered from having Bill Hartford fall into an adulterous affair in the far steamier, erotic Eyes Wide Shut. There's something about forces of nature vs man's intention that are way more interesting, as is the case in EWS and accidentally SYI. Wilder must've embraced the genius of it to some degree, because he went ahead shooting a nearly perfect picture. Every bit of this film is spot on, no wasted film - I just about laughed the whole way through, and it was contextual humor, not like that wordy crap we have to endure today.
I love Tom Ewell. He made a short film with Alfred Hitchcock called The Strange Case of Mr. Pelham, which many years ago inspired a story of mine. I distinctly noted that the adaptation only worked because of Ewell; what he naturally brings tells a tenfold story that'd otherwise take a chapter of a book to unfold - casting Ewell cuts all that time. In that way I've related him to Elisha Cook, someone who already brings a story to their presence and is not just a blank chunk of clay. Hollywood doesn't think of these types anymore, we'd either get a Hemsworth or a Kevin James, nothing subtle in between to make us question the ability of the character to have affairs with attractive women - it would be overplayed as either a stud or a fat mess. The look in his eyes as he tells himself, ""oh no, not me, not me," every married man is looking back and thinking, "you would if you could." We all know what the opportunity is awaiting him. We're forced to identify with him, could we possible let an opportunity like that go? For what sane reason? Who cares how the wife feels? She should be proud of me if I can get that! Especially if Helen thinks I am beneath the danger of sexual prowess, that I'm uninteresting to women. There's an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond like this where his wife isn't the least bit concerned about his having an affair and it upsets him because he realizes this is her way of saying he's not that capable.
I've been trying to decipher the meaning of Saul Bass' whimsical titles
Parallel shot between native ancestors and modern man, letting their families off for summer vacation as a beauty sweeps past, stealing their attention. Seeing Natives to open the film not only makes this more inviting to a wider audience, giving a needed color and flavor to romantic comedies we don't usually get, but it makes a broader point about human behavior, and this actual psychological point about a seven year itch, which is not exclusive to Richard Sherman.
5 min - Beauty in a green & white dress walks by, and the men are taken. It's at this point Wilder establishes who Richard Sherman is and what forces of nature within himself he's fighting. He's just as enthused and drawn to the women as the men are, but he's the only one who stops and changes his demeanor. "Oh no, not me" reaches for a cigarette but stops, "and I'm not gonna smoke either" - he wants to be the model of the good husband. And then he suddenly becomes the judge of behavior that had momentarily overtaken him, "look at them, isn't that awful? Train's not even out of the station yet." I love that delivery. Nevertheless, he feels the heat and tension, and it's not just in the air, patting himself with a towel, "man is this hot!" It sure is. Newman's brassy musical cue is spot on.
Tom Ewell and Marilyn Monroe star in a film about men who send their wives and children off to Maine for the hot New York Summer while they fill their minds with ideas of adultery and temptation. At its core, it's a dated premise. This type of film would not be greenlighted in today's Hollywood, especially with its treatment of women. With that said, the dated humor sometimes can work to its benefit and add to its charm. But other times, it can be cringe worthy.
There really isn't a whole lot of depth to this story. Knowing how great Wilder can be, it more or less just seems like he went through the motions with this comedy. It's filmed in mostly one location and doesn't have any rounded out supporting characters like Sabrina or Sunset Boulevard do. The script is also exposition heavy with a semi-neurotic performance from Ewell. It reminded me a lot like Martin Freeman's turn in the Fargo TV series. A man desperately wanting to be cared for and appreciated, but he turns to irrational ways of producing it.
The Seven Year Itch is very much a product of 1950's Hollywood. Women weren't given great roles, and so the prototypical 'dumb blonde' gig that Monroe gets here isn't all that surprising. So looking back, you can certainly appreciate the alluring role and film for what it is, but its ideas and themes don't hold up well at all.
+Goofy sense of humor
-Doesn't have Wilder's usual wit
Resonant Line: "The Girl: When it gets hot like this, you know what I do? I keep my undies in the icebox!"