BSP Episode 236: The Seven Year Itch
The summer movie series continues…
Release date: 6/3/1955
20th Century Fox
- Billy Wilder
- Charles K. Feldman
- Billy Wilder
- George Axelrod
- Billy Wilder
- Marilyn Monroe
- Tom Ewell
The hosts review:
The first point brought up is that, while The Seven Year Itch has the most iconic image of Marilyn Monroe (dress blowing up over the subway grate), the movie doesn’t show the full image. They also talk about how it was said that Monroe was “difficult” to work with during this movie, with her being late more often than not and flubbing a number of her lines. This was also due to her depression.
Both hosts found it a little disconcerting that the main character, Richard Sherman (Ewell) had an inner dialogue that he utilized by talking, out loud, to himself. They played on Richard’s overactive imagination in a nice way, with his dialogue and his “fantasy thoughts.” They also liked the scene in the vegetarian restaurant in the beginning of the movie… a very bohemian/hippie restaurant, very alternative for the mid-1950s. Tony was really amused by the waitress who tries to talk Richard into donating to the nudist society.
The Seven Year Itch was originally a stage production, and the movie is played out in very much the same way, with Richard breaking the “fourth wall” quite a few times in the film. It was also filmed in a stage style in that there were only four or five sets and there wasn’t a lot of movement outside of these scenes.
One of the differences between the stage version and the film version is that the film had to have the risqué stage dialogue toned down, which the hosts preferred because it gave Richard a more innocent look. It also played well in how he over-reacted to the scenes he imagined in his head, which would have been much more blatant on the stage.
Lena (from the chat room) brought up that Walter Matthau was the original actor that Billy Wilder wanted to play the role of Richard Sherman, but 20th Century Fox did not want to risk this movie on a newcomer, so they turned to the actor who played the role on stage, Tom Ewell. Lena thought that, while Matthau certainly could have done a good job, Ewell was the better choice. Tony disagreed and said that he would have liked to have seen Matthau take on the role of Richard.
One of the favorite lines from the film (Lena’s pick) was when Richard said, regarding his wife, “She’s not as young as she used to be. She’s 31 now.”
Tony and Darrell also discussed Marilyn Monroe and her contribution to this movie and her other movies. They also talked about what she had to go through; the paparazzi, the tabloids, and the pressure she was constantly under… and how even today celebrities have a hard time dealing with the pressures that almost originated with her.
All in all, they both found it to be a fun, sweet movie. Monroe’s character (The Girl) was a very sweet girl, not at all malicious or seductive in nature.
Bonus… at approx. 27 minutes in, Tony and Darrell talk a little bit about The Dark Knight Rises… no spoilers are involved, just general movie chit-chat.
Trivial bits ‘n pieces:
As Tony brought up earlier in the podcast, the classic shot of Marilyn Monroe’s dress blowing up around her legs as she stands over a subway grate was originally shot on Lexington Avenue at 52nd Street (Manhattan) 1:00 am, with 5,000 onlookers whistling and cheering through take after take as she repeatedly missed her lines. That original footage never made it to the screen; the noise of the crowd had made it unusable. Billy Wilder re-staged the scene on the 20th Century-Fox lot, on a set replicating Lexington Avenue, and got a more satisfactory result. However, it took another 40 takes for Marilyn to achieve the famous scene.
A 52-foot-high cutout of Marilyn Monroe (from the blowing-dress scene) was erected in front of Loews State Theater, in New York City’s Times Square as part of the campaign for the release of this film.
Tom Ewell won the 1953 Tony Award for Actor in a Drama for “The Seven Year Itch” in the role of Richard Sherman, which he reprised in this film.
Your Producers for this episode were:
This episode was recorded: 7/25/2012