Perhaps laying the groundwork for many romantic comedies steeped in awkward moments, near disasters, and forbidden desires in the decades to come – The Seven Year Itch is immediately striking and memorable, obviously due to Marilyn Monroe and one of the most iconic scenes of pop culture history.
Tom Ewell stars as Richard, a bored and frustrated husband who works as an editor and is left to his own devices in a Manhattan apartment while his nagging wife and annoying son travel to Maine for the summer months. On his first night alone he struggles with abstaining from cigarettes and alcohol as he tries to get in a little extra work. As he is continually sidetracked by day dreaming about failed extramarital advances, he encounters a nameless young woman of exquisite beauty (Marilyn Monroe) who has just moved into the apartment above. After a tomato plant is dropped from her deck nearly killing him, she accepts his invitation to join him downstairs for a drink, which leads to champagne, cigarettes and a lengthy visit of suggestive comments. Even though she notices he is married, she cheerfully finds ways to remain in the apartment continuing to consume drinks. After a rousing rendition of “Chopsticks” on the piano, she rejects his romantic advances but quickly brushes off the awkward encounter.
As the days pass, they spend more time together and even end up going on a date to dinner and the movies. She continually finds excuses to visit and ends up spending the night (!!) because she doesn’t have air conditioning and even removes the boards that separate the duplex. As the pressure of desire builds to enormous proportions, he must decide how to manage this new “friendship” and his internal struggle of morality.
This is actually the first film of Marilyn Monroe’s I have ever seen, and I found it to be quite an interesting piece of cinema as well as hugely influential on situational comedies that followed. While the individual acting performances are nothing to scream about from the rooftops, the entire package feels gigantic and legendary. Undoubtedly alluring and incredibly taboo material for the 1950’s, The Seven Year Itch is a true classic that still feels fresh and relative nearly 60 years later. You absolutely must see it if you haven’t already!
4 stars out of 5