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The Seven Year Itch

review by Zach B. and Anthony D.


Not Rated

Studio: Fox

Running Time: 110 minutes

Starring Marilyn Monroe, Tom Ewell, Evely Keyes, Sonny Tufts, Robert Strauss, Oscar Homolka, Marguerite Chapman, Victor Moore

Screenplay by Billy Wilder and George Axelrod
Based upon the play by George Axelrod

Directed by Billy Wilder

Retail Price: $24.98

Features: Restoration Comaprison, Movietone Newsreel: "The Seven Year Itch" has "Sneak" Preview, AMC Backstory Episode, Two Deleted Scenes, Theatrical Trailers

Specs: 2.55:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby 3.0, English Dolby Surround, French Mono, English Closed Captions, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Chapter Search (22 Chapters)

Billy Wilder breaks the sexual codes of the 50's with his charming Cinemascope filming of the hit Broadway play, "The Seven Year Itch." Flaunting convention, and stacking the deck with the casting of Marilyn Monroe along side of the star of the stage play, Tom Ewell, this film is brimming, possibly overflowing with sexual heat and innuendo. "The Seven Year Itch" is a perennial classic comedy (voted #51 by the American Film Institute) and quintessential Wilder, as well as creating the iconoclastic Marilyn Monroe future generations would idolize. Yep, this is the film with Marilyn's white skirt billowing about her waist that would reach new heights of worship in Ken Russell's "Tommy," where the congregation of Eric Clapton's church worship, with Marilyn masks, a ten foot statue of Marilyn's infamous pose.

In the sweltering summer, Manhattanite Richard Sherman (Ewell), ships his wife, Helen (Evelyn "Gone with the Wind" Keyes) and young son off to camp in Maine. When he returns to his three-apartment brownstone, Richard dreams of scratching his seven year itch, and ailment that occurs happens to men following that dreaded sixth year of marriage. His daydreams nearly become the stuff of reality when one of the apartments above him is sublet to a beautiful, and busty, actress. Richard's imagination manifests itself through long, comedic monologues and dialogue-ridden fantasy scenes: he conjures up a knitting Helen reprimanding him, a flesh-and-blood secretary trying out her seductive skills as well as a night nurse with strange notions for tucking patients in (an excellent cameo appearance by the future Morticia Addams, Carolyn Jones). These flights of fancy take up nearly one third of the film before a potted tomato plant falls from above, bringing "the girl" and Richard into close proximity. "Chopsticks," champagne, "The Creature from the Black Lagoon," kissing-sweet toothpaste, air conditioning, subway grates, Rachmaninoff concertos, nudism, errant roller skates, the 'Good Neighbor' policy and good old-fashioned marital guilt provide launching grounds for bountiful laughs. Every man may dream of Marilyn, but, the question that "The Seven Year Itch" poses is, "Will Richard Sherman let Marilyn's "The Girl" scratch HIS seven year itch?"

Tom Ewell is the epitome of urban, edgy angst and is matched moment by moment and line by line by the hysterically funny Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn's line readings are first-rate - - "I'm the tomato from upstairs" - - deftly treading the line between dumb-blond caricature and brilliant blond characterization, with the latter winning out every time. George Axelrod's script, as adapted by Axelrod and Wilder, is never condescending or smarmy, but always bright, witty and loaded with enough lines to make the Legion of Decency blush, not to mention tread the tight rules of the antiquated rules of the staunch Hayes office. A wonderful film experience all the way around.

Presented in 2.55:1 anamorphic widescreen, "The Seven Year Itch" looks visually stunning. This is a great restoration for a great movie fans should be pleased with. Colors at times are a little washed out but overally nicely restored and saturated. Sometimes things have a "digitalized" look, and there is some great detail. Sometimes there is a slight, hazy and faded look but nothing too major. Some little bits of grains and other pieces of dirts appear, but it's nothing too major and doesn't take away from the overal presentation.

The English 3.0 is pretty decent. Nothing groundbreaking but it gets the job done nicely. This remix is basically mono. There are surrounds that are noticeable and shake things up a bit, and I was really surprised that this wasn't bland at all. There's a nice subtleness to the sounds that really do get the job done. Impressive what was done here. An English Dolby Surround track is included (though the box says it is English stereo), as well as a French mono track. English closed captions, English subtitles and Spanish subtitles are included.

"The Seven Year Itch" is pretty packed with some great features. The Restoration Comaprison (a feature not listed on the packaging) is introduced with some text about the preservation department. It's quite interesting how well things were cleaned up from the video master to the original film restoration. The restoration includes much more detail and much more sharpness. If you're curious at all about this process, this deserves a watch.

Movietone News: The Seven Year Itch Has "Sneak" Preview is classic Movietone news. It's short but good while it lasts.

AMC Backstory: The Seven Year Itch is a nice featurette I am assuming aired on the AMC cable channel. It has a glitzy opening and features clips from the film in addition to interviews, old clips and narration on how the film broke new ground. Hugh Henfer, George Axelrod and Billy Wilder are in interviews among others. If you loved the film, this is a great watch and well made piece.

Two Deleted Scenes ("Bathtub" and "Subway") are included in non anamorphic widescreen. These are interesting scenes and I'm glad they were included on the disc.

There's a Theatrical Trailer and a Spanish Thearical Trailer (in 1.85:1 and 2.35:1 it seems), as well as trailers for the other Monroe films in the Diamond Collection section (plus a full frame trailer for the actual set). Finally, the One Sheets section has stills of posters.

A great film with some great features, Marilyn Monroe's most famous screen role deserves a spot in everyone's collection. With a nice presentation to boot, everyone should enjoy this DVD.

(4.5/5 - NOT included in final score)




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