[box cover]

The Seven Year Itch

Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection

  • Bus Stop
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
  • How to Marry a Millionaire
  • Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days
  • The Seven Year Itch
  • There's No Business Like Show Business
  • George Axelrod's Broadway play The Seven Year Itch, which debuted in November 1952, was such a smash that several Hollywood studios were vying over the film rights virtually from the day it opened. The only problem was the notorious Production Code, maintained by the industry-imposed Hays Office. Because the play dealt in an offhanded way with the very touchy subject of adultery (this was the '50s, after all), the studios were informed that Itch was essentially unfilmable, no matter how much it was sanitized by script-doctors. But such didn't deter Billy Wilder, who teamed with Axelrod to revise the story — as it turned out, the 1955 movie was every bit as successful as its Broadway predecessor. Tom Ewell (reprising his stage role) stars as Richard Sherman, a Manhattan publishing executive who sends his wife and young son away to the country for the summer. Left to his own devices, he's determined to fill his time with work and avoid such vices as drinking, smoking, and especially other women. But when an attractive toothpaste model (Marilyn Monroe) rents the apartment above the Sherman household, Richard finds himself obsessed with his new neighbor — and wracked with guilt over his lustful impulses. The key difference — and it's a big one — between the stage and screen versions of The Seven Year Itch is simple: Richard and his buxom neighbor (known only as "The Girl") have an affair. For her, it's simply a fling with a married man, while his entire emotional state goes on the fritz. Wilder and Axelrod's clever solution to circumvent the Hays Office keeps the summertime lovers chaste, but not Richard's manic self-loathing and runaway paranoia. In fact, while Wilder fought very hard to at least imply that the affair is consummated (he suggested a cleaning lady find a hairpin in Richard's bed), the essential nature of Itch remains unscathed — Richard has far, far too many strange ideas bumping around in his cranium, while The Girl is blissfully free of introspection. Ewell and Monroe play against each other superbly, as he constantly drifts away in his Mittyesque fantasies (seducing The Girl with a Rachmaninoff concerto) while she only responds with prosaic notions (dipping potato chips into champagne is "really crazy!") It is one of Monroe's best roles, with precise comic timing wrapped in a platinum-blonde shell. And of course, her brief, billowing moment above a subway grating is among the most iconic in film history. Fox's DVD release of The Seven Year Itch features a crisp anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) from a restored CinemaScope print and audio in Dolby Digital 3.0 or Dolby 2.0 stereo. Features include an "AMC Back Story" documentary on the making of the film (23 min.), two deleted scenes cut by the Hays Office, a brief Movietone newsreel from the film's premiere, a restoration comparison, and the theatrical trailer in English and Spanish (watch for alternate takes). Also includes trailers for all films in The Diamond Collection. Keep-case.
    —Robert Wederquist

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