The Seven Year (1955)

Sixty-seven years ago today, the film The Seven Year Itch premiered. Marilyn Monroe is beautiful and creates on of the most iconic movie images of the 20th century.

Title: The Seven Year Itch
Directed by: Billy Wilder
Produced by: Charles K. Feldman and Billy Wilder
Screenplay by: George Axelrod and Billy Wilder
Based on: The Seven Year Itch by George Axelrod
Starring: Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell
Music by: Alfred Newman
Cinematography: Milton R. Krasner
Edited by: Hugh S. Fowler
Production Company: Charles K. Feldman Group Productions
Distributed by: 20th Century-Fox
Release date: June 1, 1955 (Premiere), June 3, 1955 (United States)
Running time: 105 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Golden Globe Award Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Tom Ewell

Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell) is a middle-aged publishing executive with an overactive imagination, whose wife, Helen (Evelyn Keyes), and son, Ricky, are spending the summer in Maine. When he returns home from the train station with the kayak paddle Ricky accidentally left behind, he meets a woman (Marilyn Monroe), who is a commercial actress and former model who rents the apartment upstairs while in town to make television spots for a brand of toothpaste. That evening, he works on reading the manuscript of a book in which psychiatrist Dr. Brubaker (Oskar Homolka) claims that almost all men are driven to have extra-marital affairs in the seventh year of marriage. Sherman has an imaginary conversation with Helen, trying to convince her, in three fantasy sequences, that he is irresistible to women, including his secretary, a nurse, and Helen’s bridesmaid, but she laughs it off. A tomato plant then crashes into his lounge chair; the woman upstairs apologizes for accidentally knocking it off the balcony, and Richard invites her down for a drink.

While he waits for her to arrive, he vacillates between a fantasy of her as a femme fatale overcome by his playing of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto, and guilt at betraying his wife. When she does come down, she is wearing pink pajamas and turns out to be a naive and innocent young woman. On his suggestion, she brings back a bottle of champagne from her apartment and returns in a white dress. Richard, overcome by his fantasies, awkwardly grabs at her while they are playing “Chopsticks” together on the piano, causing them to fall off the piano bench. He apologizes, but she says it happens to her all the time. Guilt-ridden, however, he asks her to leave.

The next day at work, Richard is distracted by the fear that Helen will find out about his indiscretion, though Helen is none the wiser and just wants Richard to send Ricky his paddle so he can use the kayak. Richard’s waning resolve to resist temptation fuels his fear that he is succumbing to the “Seven Year Itch”. He seeks help from Dr. Brubaker, who has come into the office to discuss his book, but to no avail.

When he keeps hearing of his wife spending time with her writer friend McKenzie in Maine, Richard imagines that they are carrying on an affair, and he decides to invite the young woman out to dinner and a movie. After seeing The Creature from the Black Lagoon, she stands over the subway grate to experience the breeze – Monroe in the iconic scene in the pleated white halterneck dress, blowing her skirt in the wind. He lets her stay the night in his air-conditioned apartment (her upstairs apartment is uncooled) so that she will be well-rested for a television appearance the next day.

The next morning, Richard comes to his senses, and fearing his wife’s retribution (which he imagines in a fantasy scene), he tells the young woman she can stay in his apartment, and runs off, paddle in hand, to catch the next train to Maine to be with Helen and Ricky.

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