Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Seven Year Itch

One of the commendable things the Fox Movie Channel does is its weekly Fox Legacy series, where, on Friday nights, Fox executive Tom Rothman introduces a well-known movie from the Fox studio, including some of the classics. The movies air three times in succession on Friday evenings, with a movie repeated the following Sunday. Last week's Friday selection, which will be shown again tonight at 8:00 PM ET, is The Seven Year Itch.

Marilyn Monroe stars, but we'll get to her in a bit. The movie starts off with faithful husband Richard Sherman (played by Tom Ewell) saying goodbye to his wife and son as they leave New York City for a summer vacation out in the country. Unfortunately, he has to stay behind and work. That's bad enough, but there are two other problems he has. First, he's got a vivid imagination, resulting in what are almost delusions of grandeur. Worse, is that that imagination is about to be let loose on his new upstairs neighbor, played by Marilyn Monroe.

Monroe is her typical steaming hot stuff, and Mr. Sherman naturally begins to believe that perhaps she's falling in love with him. Certainly, she needs a man. She's new to the city, and thoroughly incompetent, and so, she consistently ends up in Sherman's apartment, ultimately testing his marriage. The Seven Year Itch is, of course, the movie with the very famous scene of Monroe standing over a subway grate, while the air forced out by the train causes her dress to billow up around her, revealing her panties. It's still sexy today; it must have been shocking in the mid-1950s when the movie was released.

There's really not much to the story other than The Man, The Girl, and The Overactive Imagination, but this is still a pretty darn good farce. Much of that credit is due to Billy Wilder, who directed the movie, and just as importantly, co-wrote the screenplay from George Axelrod's play.

The folks at Fox should be thanked for showing this, and really ought to be encouraged to put more of their older classics on in prime time. They have quite a bit of good stuff, that's prestigious enough that they wouldn't have to play obscure movies that "regular" people wouldn't recognize. Fox Legacy has already shown Gentleman's Agreement, and they have other Oscar-winning movies like The Grapes of Wrath and How Green Was My Valley that they could show, to name just two.

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