It’s summer in New York, where wealthy men send their families away and run riot with alcohol and extramarital affairs. But not for Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell) who has always been faithful. That is until he faces the additional strain of the ‘seven year itch’ and an attractive young toothpaste seller (Marilyn Monroe) moved in upstairs.
The Seven Year Itch features Monroe playing her standard character, much the same as in How to Marry a Millionaire, Some Like it Hot and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Opposite her is Tom Ewell who has more than a few screws loose. He acts on crazy hunches and wild fantasies, acted out through the innovative use of dream sequences.
Both actors give great performances, carrying the film. There are some very good lines, and the whole thing is very tongue in cheek. As with Monroe’s other films the joke is often on the men who are knocked for six by her flirtatious charm. Yet it lacks the plot or supporting characters of some of her other films and much of it is just bizarre.
There’s little in the way of explanation or resolution, and in a screw-ball comedy about someone coming down with a strange condition that makes them act in a crazy way, you expect some kind of outcome. The Seven Year Itch is just a series of scenes between the two characters, with him alternately trying to sleep with her and get rid of her as his mood swings, before ending. It’s all a bit repetetive and doesn’t live up to its early promise, not least because the same ideas had been done several times, and better, in the years before.
But it did give us that scene, for which it will ever be remembered.