‘The Seven Year Itch’: Marilyn’s Summer Movie

Summer Movies: 30 Sun-Drenched Classics, a new, illustrated TCM book by John Malahy, includes a full chapter on The Seven Year Itch. (Marilyn has been featured in numerous TCM books, including The Essentials, Cinematic Cities, Must-See Musicals, and Movie Night Menus.)

“The disappointing truth about summer is that some people must continue to work while others take off on relaxing vacations. Here’s a film about how to make the most of your time in the city when, say, your family is out of town and the apartment upstairs is being sublet by a blonde bombshell. Best known for a publicity stunt – Marilyn Monroe’s white skirt blowing up over a subway grate, an image that once graced Times Square in a fifty-two-foot advertisement for the film – it’s fair to say that The Seven Year Itch is all about its leading actress. The first time she appears on screen, the movie comes alive, and while it may not be considered one of Billy Wilder’s best films (an incredibly high bar), it is nevertheless a must-see for its iconic depiction of a Hollywood legend. It’s also just plain summer fun.

Despite being one of cinema’s most captivating stars, Monroe rarely gets the credit she deserves as an actress and is often dismissed as simply a ‘dumb blonde’ type. (The New York Times reviewer said ‘she doesn’t have to act in a picture, she just has to wiggle.’) But she gives one of her most charming and sensitive performances here as the Girl, who is revealed in a late monologue to be particularly astute about men. Billy Wilder deserves credit for his deft direction of Monroe … Though The Seven Year Itch is highly watchable and endlessly charming, one Wilder biographer describes it as ‘popular, funny and very thin .. one of Wilder’s weakest films.’ Whether or not that’s a fair assessment, it should be noted that weak Wilder is better than many filmmakers’ good work.”