Sunday, November 13, 2005

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?: "The Seven-Year Itch"

Well, that was a lot to go through just for one scene.

I'm speaking, of course, of the famous Marilyn Monroe shot with her skirt flying up around her hips, thanks to the fortuitous passing of subway trains beneath a grate. No question this is the iconic MM image, and I figured it was my obligation to see it in the proper context. After all, if it was enough to make her husband mad, it's good enough for me.

Just not right away, apparently. I TiVoed "The Seven-Year Itch" way back in March -- yeah, more than seven months ago -- and for some reason kept putting it off. I don't know ... guess I just wasn't ever in the mood. (Unlike Marilyn. Thank you folks, I'll be here all week.) But when my wife recently took off for the weekend, I buckled down and braced myself for skirt-flying fun.

Alas, as often is the case, I was a little disappointed. The film has Monroe living upstairs from an older man whose wife and kid have left New York City for the summer. Because men were only a few steps removed from caves in the 1950s, they usually spent the summer chasing other women while their wives were away. What follows is the man's internal battle over whether he'll be good or bed Monroe. As you can guess, hijinks ensue.

Some of this is funny enough, I suppose. If Monroe truly is playing the dumb blonde, she does a decent job, sharing that she keeps her "undies in the icebox" and calling almost everything "elegant" (and not using the word right). The guy, Tom Ewell, also eats up his role, channeling his anxiety into various daydreams -- good (romancing Monroe) and bad (getting caught by his wife).

But there's a pretty big disconnect from when this movie was made and today, and it has not aged well. Hey, I love infidelity comedy as much as anybody, but when the movie is based on a widely-accepted practice of husbands cheating on wives en masse over the summer, it rings a tad hollow.

While our hero wrestles with whether to do the deed, we see a few other guys going about their merry way with other women. If that really was the situation, then it didn't make sense why the guy didn't get with Marilyn in the first 15 minutes. Of if he loved his wife so much, why agonize over and over about the blonde bombshell upstairs? It was just too cute for me.

But hey, Monroe does look good. The blank face doesn't suit her well, but just when she was about to get annoying she would unveil that smoky, eyes-half-shut look. Woof. As for the skirt scene, it's rather tame by today's standards, and I really can't relate to that being such a big deal. I guess you just weren't supposed to get a good look at a girl's thighs in the '50s. That's a little hard to swallow in this era of Girls Gone Wild. Not that I'm complaining. Not at all.


At 11:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't you mean ... Tom Ewell ("Baretta")?


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