Cast & Crew
One hot summer in Manhattan, book editor Richard Sherman escorts his wife Helen and son Ricky to the train station, from which they and numerous other families are leaving to escape the city's heat. After agreeing to Helen's admonitions not to smoke or drink, Richard briefly joins the other "summer bachelors" in ogling a pretty woman, but firmly tells himself that he will not be like other husbands who run amok while their families are away. Richard returns to his office at Brady & Co., where his unusually vivid imagination helps in the designing the company's lurid covers of paperbacks. After a bland, healthy dinner, Richard goes home and is about to work on a new manuscript, Of Man and the Unconscious by Dr. Ludwig Brubaker, when he is interrupted by the outside door buzzer. A stunning blonde enters and tells Richard that she is his new neighbor, as she is renting the apartment above his for the summer, and the awestruck Richard's neck cracks alarmingly as he cranes to watch her ascend the stairs. Determined to enjoy a quiet evening, Richard resolves not to think about The Girl, whose name he did not learn, and returns to Brubaker's book. Before long, however, Richard begins pondering Helen's intention to call him at 10:00 and decides that she must not trust him, even though he has been faithful during their seven years of marriage. As Richard debates the matter, he imagines Helen sitting opposite him on the patio and hears her laugh when he states that he is attractive to other women. The vision of Helen continues to chuckle as Richard dramatically spins a tall tale about being romantically accosted by his secretary, Miss Morris; a nurse; and Helen's own best friend, Elaine. Helen chides Richard for imagining things in CinemaScope with stereophonic sound, then disappears, but before Richard can return to his manuscript, the real Helen telephones early. Richard is disconcerted to hear that she ran into Tom MacKenzie, a writer of lurid romances, on the train to Maine, yet promises that he is following her advice. After hanging up, Richard gets up just before a huge tomato plant from the upstairs balcony crashes into his chair. The Girl, who was watering the plants, apologizes for knocking over the plant, and Richard invites her for a drink. Nonplussed by the Girl's announcement that she leaves her underwear in the refrigerator to keep cool, Richard frantically prepares for her visit. While searching for mood music, Richard selects Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 and imagines himself seducing the Girl with his magnificent playing of the powerful music. When the doorbell rings, Richard comes out of his reverie and instead finds Krahulik, the building's janitor who has come to take the rugs. Richard quickly dismisses Krahulik, then welcomes the Girl, a bubbly, naïve model who appears in television commercials. The Girl laments the fact that her apartment does not have air conditioning, as the Shermans' does, and relates that she attempted to sleep in a bathtub full of cool water, but had to call a plumber after her toe got stuck in the faucet while she was trying to stop a leak. When the Girl notices his wedding ring, Richard admits that he is married, but she responds that she is pleased he is married, as nothing "drastic" can happen. Richard commiserates with her complaint that men are continually asking her to marry them, then plays "Chopsticks" with her on the piano. Their duet ends when Richard, imitating the earlier seduction scenario he had imagined, attempts to kiss the Girl and they fall off the piano bench. Bewildered but not unhappy, the Girl exits gracefully when the nervous Richard asks her to leave. The next morning, worried that he is becoming a dissolute lecher, Richard asks his boss, Brady, for two weeks off to spend with Helen but Brady refuses. Richard then reads Brubaker's theory about "the seven year itch," which posits that most married men commit adultery during the seventh year of marriage, and that the statistic grows higher during warm weather. When Brubaker arrives to discuss his book, Richard confesses that he attempted to "terrorize" a young lady the previous evening. Intrigued by Richard's twitching thumb, Brubaker listens and advises him to give himself more room than a piano bench if he feels the impulse to "terrorize" again. After Brubaker leaves, Richard imagines the Girl telling the plumber about his attack upon her, and the news then spreading throughout New York until Ricky and Helen see it on television in Maine. In despair, Richard decides to telephone Helen to learn if she has discovered his indiscretion. Instead of Helen, the phone is answered by a babysitter, who informs Richard that Helen is on a hayride with Tom. At first Richard is pleased, believing that Helen must not suspect anything is wrong if she is out having fun, but then begins to imagine that Tom has arranged a private hayride, with no other passengers, no driver and blinkered horses, in order to make a pass at the receptive Helen. Infuriated with Helen's supposed behavior, Richard takes the Girl to dinner and a movie, and after the film, admires her legs as she stands over a subway grating and her skirt is blown up by the air from passing trains. Richard and the Girl return to his apartment, which is cool from the air conditioning, and while Richard prattles about psychology and the possibility that the Girl subconsciously loves him, she worries about the heat. Working up her courage, the Girl asks him if she can spend the night, and after determining that she intends to sleep in the living room chair, a nervous Richard assents. Their conversation is interrupted by Krahulik, who has come again to collect the rugs. Krahulik spots the Girl, who is hiding in the chair, but Richard bluffs through the situation by stating that she came to retrieve her tomato plant. Richard is forced to usher the Girl out, along with Krahulik and the plant, but is surprised soon after when she appears through the ceiling via the trap door separating the stairs between their apartments. The Girl happily announces that they can go back and forth all summer without anyone knowing, and Richard, horrified by so much temptation, spends a troubled night on the couch. In the morning, while waiting for the Girl to awaken, Richard imagines that Helen, informed by Krahulik about his rendezvous with the Girl, has returned from Maine to shoot him. The Girl calms Richard, and when he tells her that Helen is never jealous of him because no pretty woman would want someone like him, the Girl informs him that women always want a shy, sweet man rather than some egotistical, handsome lout. Giving him a tender kiss, the Girl assures him that she would be jealous of him if she were his wife, then goes into the kitchen. Richard is then surprised by the arrival of Tom, who has come to pick up Ricky's kayak paddle. Richard assumes that Tom has come to ask for a divorce on Helen's behalf, however, while Tom is baffled by Richard's talk of having a blonde who might be Marilyn Monroe in the kitchen. Determined to be with his family, Richard slugs Tom and knocks him out, then tells the Girl that she can use the apartment while he is gone. Richard grabs the paddle and runs out into the street before being stopped by the Girl, who tosses him his shoes from the window. Richard's neck cracks again after one last look at the Girl, then he waves goodbye as he hurries to the train station.
George W. Davis
Charles K. Feldman
Charles K. Feldman
Hugh S. Fowler
Harry M. Leonard
Edward B. Powell
Stuart A. Reiss
Joseph E. Rickards
Walter M. Scott
E. Clayton Ward
The Seven Year Itch
The Seven Year Itch (1955), which is probably best remembered today for that indelible image of Marilyn Monroe's dress being blown up by the wind rising from a subway grating, is a case in point. The film is often hilarious (despite being dated by unashamed sexism), but Wilder's inability to include an all-important scene of marital infidelity turns what could have been a biting black comedy into a mere Walter Mitty fantasy. Though Monroe, playing a breezily seductive single girl who's supposed to be the downfall of a married man, seems about as threatening as a walking lollipop, she still dazzles in one of her most engaging performances. She's exceptionally sexy, and her comic timing is nearly flawless...not that it came easily.
Based on a popular Broadway play written by George Axelrod, The Seven Year Itch was a significant step in Monroe's transformation into a legend. Tom Ewell (who enjoyed an unexpected career resurgence two decades later, when he co-starred with Robert Blake on TV's Baretta) plays Richard Sherman, a New York-based paperback book publisher who hopes to take advantage of a few months of freedom when his son and wife leave town for the summer. But he quickly gets more excitement than he hoped for, in the form of a dim, but irresistibly attractive young woman (Monroe) who lives in the apartment above his.
There's not much more plot to it than that, as Sherman has conniption fits trying not to think about bedding "The Girl," as Monroe is listed in the credits. The film's theatrical roots and staging are hard to ignore, but a lot of the dialogue, and such touches as Ewell mixing Monroe a libido-loosening martini in a huge water glass, still score major laughs.
It's amazing it works as well as it does. Frustrations arose for Wilder almost from the beginning of production. Although Ewell originated his role on Broadway, he wasn't a particularly electrifying screen performer. Wilder badly wanted to bypass Ewell and give the role to a gangly newcomer named Walter Matthau. But 20th Century Fox wasn't taking any chances with a proven property, so Ewell stayed in, and Matthau was stuck playing second-banana roles for several more years. (He would eventually win a Best Supporting Actor Oscar® for his work in Wilder's The Fortune Cookie, 1966.)
Casting battles were a mere nuisance, however, in comparison to the shellacking Wilder and the play's author, George Axelrod, took from industry censors. "Axelrod couldn't believe what was happening to his play," Wilder later recounted. "On Broadway, the guy has an affair with the girl upstairs, but in the picture, he only gets to imagine how it would be to go to bed with Marilyn Monroe. And just the idea of going to bed with her has to terrify him, or it won't get past the censors." If that was how it really worked, virtually every heterosexual man in America at the time would have been scared out of his wits.
Wilder always insisted that "the difference between a good film and one that is less than what it might have been (in the case of The Seven Year Itch) was a hairpin." Wilder's idea was to not show Ewell and Monroe making love, but just signify that the act had taken place by having Ewell's maid find a hairpin in Ewell's bed. "That's how Lubitsch would have done it," Wilder said. "But they wouldn't allow it. A picture that got down to one subtle hairpin, and we had to cut it out."
Of course, Wilder also had his share of problems with the ever-tardy-and-traumatized Monroe, who never met a director she couldn't drive to distraction. "I would get very angry at her," he said. "For The Seven Year Itch she never came on time once." However, he always maintained a good working relationship with the star. "She thought the way she looked entitled her to special privileges. It was true. But it didn't work with me, because I looked at her not as a man, but as a director. Well, most of the time."
In Wilder's view, inherent dazzle, as opposed to genuine acting chops, is what made Monroe an undying legend. "Working with her," he said, "was like being a dentist, you know- pulling those lines out like teeth, except the dentist felt the pain. But no matter how much you suffered Miss Monroe, she was totally natural on the screen, and that's what survived. She glowed." And today's viewers still can't get enough of that magnetism.
Trivia: Bell potato chips was a regional brand on the West Coast. Wanting to go national, they delivered cases of potato chips to movie sets in the hopes they'd be used as props in a film. Their plan worked when Billy Wilder needed them for The Seven Year Itch - after a scene where Marilyn Monroe came home from the store and started eating them, they became famous.
Directed by: Billy Wilder
Screenplay: Billy Wilder and George Axelrod (based on Axelrod's play)
Producer: Charles K. Feldman, Billy Wilder
Photography: Milton Krasner
Editing: Hugh S. Fowler
Music: Alfred Newman
Art Direction: Lyle Wheeler and George W. Davis
Set Design: Walter M. Scott and Stuart A. Reiss
Costumes: William Travilla
Cast: Marilyn Monroe (The Girl), Tom Ewell (Richard Sherman), Evelyn Keyes (Helen Sherman), Sonny Tufts (Tom McKenzie), Robert Strauss (Kruhulik), Oskar Homolka (Dr. Brubaker), Marguerite Chapman (Miss Morris), Victor Moore (Plumber).
by Paul Tatara
The Seven Year Itch
TCM Remembers - Billy Wilder
Billy Wilder had the most deliciously dirty mind in Hollywood. The director dug into racy, controversial subjects with cynical wit and rare candor; he set new standards for film noir, sex comedies and the buddy film and his movies continue to inspire new generations of filmmakers.
Cameron Crowe, screenwriter and director of contemporary hit films such as Jerry Maguire(1996), was one of those moved by Wilder's film sense. The struggling filmmaker struck up a friendship with the 93-year old veteran and found a friend and a mentor. Their conversations were recently chronicled in a book by Cameron Crowe entitled Conversations with Wilder(published by Knoft).
Billy Wilder might have been born in Vienna, but American culture influenced him from the earliest days. Given the name Samuel, Wilder's mother called her son 'Billy' in honor of Buffalo Bill Cody. The name stuck.
Billy was as restless as his namesake and left law school to become a journalist. While grinding out articles for a Berlin newspaper, Wilder joined with future film directors Fred Zinnemann, Robert Sidomak and Edgar G. Ulmer to make a short film, Menschen Am Sonntag (1929). By the mid-1930s, he had written seven scenarios and even tried his hand at directing. After Hitler's rise to power in 1934, Wilder fled his homeland. Once in Hollywood, Wilder and roommate Peter Lorre had to learn English quickly if they wanted to join the American film industry. Together the German expatriates learned the language and began staking their territory in the Dream Factory.
As a writer, Wilder could craft realistic relationships with sharp dialogue; he proved this in his scripts for Ninotchka (1939) with Greta Garbo and Howard Hawks' Ball of Fire(1941). As a filmmaker, Wilder was well acquainted with the shadowy, brooding style of German Expressionism. He brought these two gifts together to create a landmark film noir - DOUBLE INDEMNITY(1944). He followed this cinematic triumph with a risky project, the story of an alcoholic on a three-day binge. Not the usual subject matter for a Hollywood studio, THE LOST WEEKEND (1945) nevertheless claimed the Academy Award for Best Picture. By the end of the decade, Wilder dared even to paint a portrait of Hollywood stardom gone awry in Sunset Boulevard (1950).
Each of these films is an undisputed classic today, but even at the time, his films were lauded. Six of his screenplays were nominated for Oscars between 1941-1950. Three of his eight Best Director nominations also came during this period. Billy Wilder claimed the American Dream; he was successfully playing by his own rules.
By the end of the '50s, as censorship guidelines were easing, Wilder's projects became even more daring. Sex was central to Wilder's world and Hollywood celebrated his candor. He directed Marilyn Monroe in two of her most sensuous roles, The Seven Year Itch (1955) and SOME LIKE IT HOT(1959). More often than not, Wilder liked pointing his finger at the hyprocrisy of people's sexual mores. In THE APARTMENT(1960), Wilder took an incisive look at corrupt businessmen exploiting their employees for sexual favors. In IRMA LA DOUCE (1963), the world of a Parisian prostitute was lovingly painted in Technicolor tones. In Kiss Me, Stupid (1964), Wilder finally stepped over the line with the story of a struggling composer willing to offer his wife to sell a song.The film, which seems so innocent today, was scandalous in its own day. Critics called Kiss Me, Stupid pornographic smut and buried the picture. Audiences ignored it. Today, the film is a risque farce with great performances by Dean Martin and Kim Novak. The critical lambast deeply affected Wilder; this would be his last sex comedy.
In 1966 Wilder brought together the dynamic combination of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau with THE FORTUNE COOKIE. Director and stars teamed again for The Front Page (1974), a remake of the newspaper classic; and Buddy, Buddy (1981), the story of an assassin and a sad sack ready to commit suicide.
Wilder's many years in Hollywood produced an amazing string of hits. From sarcastic and cynical social commentary to outrageous sex farce, Wilder pushed his audiences to look at their own values and morals. He was an outsider who wasn't afraid to point out the follies of his fellow man or the worst aspects of American culture. He will be sorely missed.
By Jeremy Geltzer
TCM Remembers - Billy Wilder
George Axelrod, 1922-2003
Born June 9, 1922, in New York City to the son of the silent film actress Betty Carpenter, he had an eventful childhood in New York where, despite little formal education, he became an avaricious reader who hung around Broadway theaters. During World War II he served in the Army Signal Corps, then returned to New York, where in the late 40's and early 50's he wrote for radio and television and published a critically praised novel, Beggar's Choice.
He scored big on Broadway in 1952 with The Seven Year Itch. The comedy, about a frustrated, middle-aged man who takes advantage of his family's absence over a sweltering New York summer to have an affair with a sexy neighbor, won a Tony Award for its star, Tom Ewell, and was considered daring for its time as it teased current sexual mores and conventions. The play was adapted into a movie in 1955 by Billy Wilder, as a vehicle for Marilyn Monroe, with Ewell reprising his role. Unfortunately, the censors and studio executives would not allow the hero to actually consummate the affair; instead, Ewell was seen merely daydreaming a few romantic scenes, a situation that left the playwright far from happy.
Nevertheless, the success of The Seven Year Itch, opened the door for Axelrod as a screenwriter. He did a fine adaptation of William Inge's play Bus Stop (1956) again starring Marilyn Monroe, and did a splendid job transferring Truman Capote's lovely Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961). Although his relationship with the director Blake Edwards was rancorous at best, it did earn Axelrod his only Academy Award nomination.
So frustrated with his work being so heavily revised by Hollywood, that Axelrod decided to move from New York to Los Angeles, where he could more closely monitor the treatment of his scripts. It was around this period that Axelrod developed some his best work since he began producing as well as writing: the incisive, scorchingly subversive cold war thriller The Manchurian Candidate (1962), based on Richard Condon's novel about an American POW (Laurence Harvey) who returns home and is brainwashed to kill a powerful politician; the urbane comedy Paris When it Sizzles (1964) that showed off its stars William Holden and Audrey Hepburn at their sophisticated best; his directorial debut with the remarkable (if somewhat undisciplined) satire Lord Love a Duck (1966) that skewers many sacred institutions of American culture (marriage, school, wealth, stardom) and has since become a cult favorite for midnight movie lovers; and finally (his only other directorial effort) a gentle comedy of wish fulfillment The Secret Life of an American Wife (1968) that gave Walter Matthau one of his most sympathetic roles.
By the '70s, Axelrod retired quietly in Los Angeles. He returned to write one fine screenplay, John Mackenzie's slick political thriller The Fourth Protocol (1987) starring Michael Caine. He is survived by his sons Peter, Steven, and Jonathan; a daughter Nina; seven grandchildren; and a sister, Connie Burdick.
by Michael T. Toole
George Axelrod, 1922-2003
Hey, did you ever try dunking a potato chip in champagne? It's real crazy!- The Girl
There's gin and vermouth. That's a martini.- Richard Sherman
Oh, that sounds cool! I think I'll have a glass of that. A big tall one!- The Girl
Lately you've begun to imagine in Cinemascope... with stereophonic sound.- Helen Sherman
I just hope it's not some priceless antique or something.- The Girl
Forget it. Just early Sears, Roebuck.- Richard Sherman
All those lovely, injurious tars and resins.- Richard Sherman
Not without a distinct ring of irony, the 9-month-old Monroe-DiMaggio marriage officially ended during this shoot.
The classic shot of Monroe's dress blowing up around her legs as she stands over a subway grating was shot on Manhattan's Lexington Avenue at 52nd St. The original footage wasn't used, however, as Wilder re-staged the scene in a studio and got a more satisfactory result.
Monroe's real-life bouts with lifelong depression and self-destruction took their toll on her during filming; she frequently muffed scenes and forgot her lines, leading to sometimes as many as 40 takes per scene before a satisfactory result was produced.
Marilyn Monroe's constant tardiness and behavioral problems made the budget of the film swell to $1.8 million, a high price for the time. The film still managed to make a nice profit.
The film opens with a sequence depicting the "Manhattan Indians" sending their wives and children away to the countryside during the hot summer. After their families depart, the men are distracted by the sight of a beautiful young Indian woman walking by. Voice-over narration describes the action and introduces the character of "Richard Sherman." Robert Strauss's character is referred to as both "Kruhulik" and "Krahulik" by contemporary sources. According to Hollywood Reporter news items and information in the film's file in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, several studios, including Warner Bros., M-G-M and Twentieth Century-Fox, were interested in obtaining the screen rights to George Axelrod's hit Broadway play and asked PCA officials to evaluate the play's potential for translation into a movie. On December 16, 1952, Hollywood Reporter noted that M-G-M was hoping to secure the rights in order to star June Allyson and Van Johnson in the film. In every case, however, the PCA responded that the play could not be made into a film, as the Production Code maintained that "adultery must never be the subject of comedy or laughter." In the original play, Richard does have a sexual affair with "The Girl," and the PCA did not approve the final screenplay until all suggestions of the affair were removed.
Hollywood Reporter news items reported that in February 1953, director Billy Wilder was discussing an independent film deal with Axelrod and hoped to film three separate versions simultaneously: an English-language version starring Tom Ewell and Marilyn Monroe; a French-language production starring Fernandel; and a Spanish-language picture starring Cantinflas. On February 20, 1953, Hollywood Reporter announced that agent Charles K. Feldman had acquired the screen rights to the play for $255,000, and that Wilder would direct the picture and might "also figure in the ownership of the rights." According to information in the Charles K. Feldman Collection at the AFI Library, Feldman and Wilder also considered producing an Italian-language version of the film, starring Gina Lollobridgida. The February 20, 1953 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that the film could not be released before January 31, 1956, because the play was still enjoying very healthy business on Broadway, and that the payments to Axelrod and the play's producers were spread over a period of years.
The Feldman papers reveal that he approached a number of studios, including Columbia, Warner Bros. and United Artists about distributing the picture, and that while Feldman preferred to distribute it through United Artists, Wilder persuaded him to co-produce the picture with Twentieth Century-Fox and distribute through that studio. Part of Wilder's reason for wanting to work with Fox was that it would be easier to obtain the services of Marilyn Monroe as the Girl, because Monroe was under contract to Fox. Feldman was Monroe's agent, and his papers confirm that when he and Wilder signed with Fox, the deal was partially predicated on obtaining Monroe, who consequently did not have any rehearsal or vacation time between making her previous Fox film, the 1954 release There's No Business Like Show Business (see below), and The Seven Year Itch.
A Hollywood Reporter news item announced Feldman and Wilder's co-production deal with Fox on May 12, 1954. Although the February 20, 1953 news item speculated that Ewell, who would soon win a Tony Award for his role in the play, would star in the film, modern sources state that Walter Matthau was Wilder's original choice for the role of Richard. The DVD release of the film contains Matthau's screen test for the role, which was directed by Wilder on June 15, 1954 and co-starred Gena Rowlands as the Girl. [There is no indication, however that Rowlands was considered for the film.] The Feldman papers reveal that after Wilder decided against Matthau, as being too little known, both he and Twentieth Century-Fox production chief Darryl F. Zanuck considered casting either Gary Cooper or William Holden as Richard. July 1954 memos in the Feldman Collection reveal that James Stewart was also interested in the role but could not participate due to other commitments.
Eventually it was decided to cast Ewell, who is billed onscreen as "Tommy Ewell." In a September 20, 1954 memo to Feldman and Wilder, Zanuck stated: "If I had read the script at the time we were casting the picture I would never have recommended William Holden or anybody else except Tommy Ewell. No one I can think of can play this particular script. I didn't quite understand it at the time but in re-reading it again I now believe that Holden would have been as big an error as Gary Cooper." Zanuck added: "In spite of the enormous success of this play on the stage it would not be, in my opinion, 50% of the picture it will be with Marilyn Monroe. She is an absolute must for this story."
As noted by contemporary sources, a few sequences of the film were shot on location in New York City, and a frenzy of publicity surrounded Monroe's appearances there. Location sites included Manhattan, Pennsylvania Station and the outside of the Trans-Lux Theater on the corner of 52nd St. and Lexington Ave. An August 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item and the film's pressbook reported that a sequence featuring Yogi Berra and Eddie Lopat at Yankee Stadium was filmed during a "Yanks-Indians game" on September 1, 1954, but the sequence was not included in the completed picture. The Feldman papers confirm that the scene was shot and was to be included in the "gossip sequence," in which Richard imagines the news of his flirtation with the Girl spreading throughout New York. In correspondance between Feldman and others involved in the production, the sequences in which Richard imagines things are referred to as "dream bubbles."
The film's most famous scene, in which Monroe stands over a subway grating to enjoy the breeze blowing up her skirt, was filmed in the early morning hours of September 15, 1954 in front of a crowd of over a 1,000 spectators. Modern sources frequently assert that the shooting of the sequence contributed to the demise of Monroe's short-lived, troubled marriage to baseball legend Joe DiMaggio. DiMaggio, who had married Monroe only nine months earlier, had not planned to attend the location shoot, but was encouraged to do so by gossip columnist Walter Winchell. During the filming of the "skirt blowing" sequence, DiMaggio allegedly became infuriated by the huge crowd's opportunity to ogle his wife's legs, as her skirt was blown up much higher than it does in the completed picture. DiMaggio and Monroe reportedly fought after the location filming was completed; two weeks later, Monroe filed for divorce. Modern sources confirm that the New York footage of the sequence could not be used because of the noise from the crowd and had to be re-shot on the Fox lot. The image of Monroe in the white halter dress, with her skirt flowing around her knees, has become one of the most well-known images of her and is often copied or parodied in films, television and print.
When production resumed at the Fox studio shortly after the New York location sequences, Hollywood Reporter news items included George Givot, Mercedes Marlowe and Almira Sessions in the cast, although their appearance in the released picture has not been confirmed. Modern sources add Ron Nyman (Indian) to the cast. Despite complaints from Zanuck, contained in the Feldman papers, that the production was falling behind schedule, in part because of Monroe's illnesses and need for repeated takes, Feldman supported the actress, stating that the additional takes were required due to the lack of rehearsal time, and that she worked fifteen days straight in order to make up time she took off during her divorce proceedings. Monroe completed retakes for the film in January 1955, despite being on suspension from the studio for asserting that her long-term contract was no longer legally binding. Monroe formed her own corporation with close friend Milton Greene, with whom she intended to produce films, but later in 1955, signed a much more favorable contract with Fox, which awarded her greater freedom and higher pay.
After production on The Seven Year Itch was completed, the PCA agreed to issue the film a MPAA certificate number on the conditions that "all references to glands" in the dream bubble sequence between "Helen" and Richard on the patio were deleted; the hayride sequence was shortened; and one of the three shots of the Girl's skirt blowing in the subway breeze be eliminated. Numerous contemporary reviews commented that the play's story and risqué dialogue were considerably toned down for the film version. After the film first opened, however, it was protested by the National Catholic Legency of Decency, which threated to give it a "C," or condemned, rating.
Among the aspects of the picture protested by the Legion, which had been included in the original screenings of the film, were a sequence in which "the plumber" drops his wrench into the Girl's bubble bath and must retrieve it, and a line in the skirt-blowing scene in which the Girl states that she feels sorry for men having to wear " those hot pants." The Motion Picture Herald Prod Digest review called the "hot pants" line "some of the more objectionable dialogue in the picture," but the Hollywood Reporter review praised the plumber sequence. The scenes were cut from the thirty-seven prints then "in the field," according to a June 9, 1955 telegram from Feldman, and on June 30, 1955, the Legion of Decency issued the picture a less stringent "B" rating for treating "in a flippant and farcical manner marital fidelity." The Legion also objected to the implication that the Girl is nude in her much-discussed "U.S. Camera" photograph and insisted that a photograph of her wearing a bikini be inserted in order to dispel the implication. The Feldman papers reveal that all of the eliminations were restored for overseas distribution. According to information in the PCA file, the film was completely rejected for distribution in Ireland and was called "indecent and unfit for general exhibition" by the Dublin Board of Censors.
Although a April 12, 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that Sammy Cahn had been assigned to write lyrics for Alfred Newman's instrumental theme "The Girl Upstairs," no vocal song was included in the completed picture. The Feldman papers add that Jules Styne and Cahn wrote a song for Monroe, titled "The Seven Year Itch," to sing at the picture's end, but despite Feldman's hopes that the song would be a hit and therefore increase box-office revenues, as did the popular title song from the Fox film Three Coins in the Fountain, it was not used. One of the changes from the play to the film was the use of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in the "seduction scene" rather than Maxwell Anderson and Kurt Weill's "September Song," which was used in the play.
On May 4, 1955, Hollywood Reporter noted that Fox paid an additional $175,000 to Axelrod and the play's producers for the right to release the picture in June 1955 rather than in January 1956, as was originally contracted. The immense publicity for The Seven Year Itch included a four-story cutout of Monroe, in the pose with her skirt blowing up, being hung over the Loew's State Theatre marquee in New York City. According to May 24, 1955 Hollywood Reporter and New York Times news items, the Legion of Decency objected to the revealing cutout and it was replaced with a "more decorous" fifty-two foot version. A June 17, 1955 telegram from publicist Charles Einfeld to Feldman, contained in the Feldman papers, reveals that some newspapers refused to run the ad featuring Monroe's windswept skirt pose, and other ads had to be used in its place.
On June 1, 1955 a "sneak preview" was held in New York, and Monroe attended the widely publicized event with DiMaggio, even though their divorce had been finalized by then. Numerous other theaters across the country, including in Chicago and Los Angeles, used variously sized cut-outs of Monroe to adorn their marquees. According to a June 28, 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item, publicity for the film included a picture book entiled Marilyn Monroe as the Girl. The "over 100 candid photographs" were taken by Sam Shaw, who took the famous photographs of Monroe with her skirt blowing. The Seven Year Itch became one of Fox's highest grossing film of 1955.
The film contains numerous tongue-in-cheek references to the movie industry, such as the scene in which Helen tells Richard that he imagines things in CinemaScope with stereophonic sound; a satire on the film From Here to Eternity in the dream bubble in which Richard is kissed on the beach by "Elaine"; and when the Girl refers Richard to "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" in his dream bubble in which she is telling everyone about his alleged attack upon her. The film's inventive opening title cards, designed by Saul Bass, received much commendation from reviewers, including the Motion Picture Herald Prod Digest critic, who stated: "The picture deserves at least a variant of an Academy Award for its extremely effective main title." Ewell won a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actor-Musical/Comedy for his performance as Richard. The Seven Year Itch was number fifty-one on AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs list.
In November 2000, People reported that Darryl Hannah was starring in a stage production of The Seven Year Itch in London, and that the producers had approached the Los Angeles design house of Travilla, who designed Monroe's white halter dress, for a reproduction of the dress for Hannah to wear.
Released in United States Summer July 1955
Released in United States 1986
It was from this film that the now-famous still of Monroe trying to hold her dress down from the gust of air of the subway grating below originated. It was used in the initial key art for the film's promotion.
Shot between September and November 1954.
Released in United States Summer July 1955
Released in United States 1986 ( "Truffaut Plus", a Film Society of Lincoln Center Retrospective )