Sunday, August 17, 2014

Movie Review: "The Seven Year Itch" (1955)

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Movie"The Seven Year Itch"
Director: Billy Wilder
Year: 1955
Rating: G
Running Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Every summer, the men of Manhattan send their wives and kids on vacation while they stay home and "work." Most men take this opportunity to do everything they aren't allowed to when their wives and kids are around, like drink, smoke, and spend time with younger women but not Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell). Richard is determined to follow his wife Helen's (Evelyn Keyes) instructions and refrain from these activities. Unfortunately for him, a young woman (Marilyn Monroe) is renting the upstairs apartment for the summer, making his task that much more difficult. It also doesn't help that Richard has an overactive imagination that often gets the better of him. 

It's always interesting to watch old-school movies through a modern-age lens. At the time this movie was made, we're sure it was commonplace for a husband to send his wife away for the summer while he stays at home and drinks like a fish, smokes like a chimeny, and gallivants with the tartlet from upstairs. Nowadays, this movie seems much more sexist, violent towards women, slightly racist, and absolutely favors these ideals of the 1950's. The women who portray the wives of this film are seen as more matronly, leaving behind a giant list of rules like a mother would do, and the younger women flagrantly flaunt their bodies and seem to have no problem throwing themselves at married men. Every single man in the movie wants to cheat on his wife as soon as she is out the door, ready to hook up with whatever young hottie he comes across first with no regard to his wife or kids.

There is some humor in the movie, particularly Richard Sherman's over-imaginative fantasies. Some people might think his incessant babbling to himself isn't funny at all, but the way he goes from zero to something with the drop of a hat provides for a lot of hilarious scenes and scenarios, though they are not all a hit. Let's be honest, Marilyn Monroe was not that great of an actress, but damn if she wasn't a sex symbol. She plays the same overly-ditzy blonde in a tight dress with a squeaky, childlike voice and men seem to eat it up every single time. This movie features Monroe's most notable and iconic scene where her dress gets blown up by the subway. Perhaps one of the reasons this movie is still around is due to this scene alone, but if you didn't grow up watching it and saw it today for the first time, you might think twice about how wonderful it is and may question why it has survived this long at all. One scene in particular that is disturbing to us is when Richard is having one of his fantasies and he slaps a nurse that is fawning over him. She says something to the effect of, "hit me again, I'll just keep crawling back to you!" WHAT????? We had the same jaw to the floor reaction that we did when we saw Mickey Rooney show up on screen for the first time in "Breakfast at Tiffany's," just in a sexist manner, not a racist one. We like to think we're pretty even-handed when it comes to accepting all matters in cinema, even if we are uncomfortable with a subject matter, but this is just too much, too desperate, and too untrue.

It's funny that the parts of this film that were considered to be "the norm" are now considered passe and offensive in 2014, while the parts of the movie that were seen as odd or made fun of (IE: eating at a restaurant that serves exclusively healthy foods and soy products) are now commonplace and customary in a world filled with health-nuts and the diet conscious. While we don't particularly identify with this movie, it's funny in an ironic sort of way, and we can't believe some of the thing that were deemed normal in the 1950's. This isn't a bad movie and has its moments of humor, but it's really nothing special and Marilyn Monroe plays the same character as always with an interchangeable male lead.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 86%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "Blackfish"

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