Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Seven Year Itch (1955)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Seven Year Itch (1955)

In director/co-writer Billy Wilder's romantic sex comedy, a witty and farcical tale adapted from George Axelrod's 1952 Broadway play:

  • in the film's opening, paperback publisher and middle-aged Manhattanite Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell) escorted his wife Helen (Evelyn Keyes) and son Ricky (Butch Bernard) to the train station; they were on their way to Maine for the summer to escape the city's heat; as soon as his wife left town, Richard was determined to lead a sensible life and was resolved to not play around like so many other men; Richard was a professional, Walter-Mittyish publisher of paperback books
  • after work, Richard went for dinner in a vegetarian restaurant on 3rd Avenue where plain, nudism-loving and middle-aged health-food waitress (Doro Merande) espoused the virtues of nudity and naturism to him - she explained that although she didn't accept tips, she did solicit contributions for a fund established for a nudist camp; she claimed that if everyone went without clothes, there would be no war: "Nudism is such a worthy cause. We must bring the message to the people. We must teach them to unmask their poor suffocating bodies and let them breathe again. Clothes are the enemy. Without clothes, there'd be no sickness, there'd be no war. I ask you, sir, can you imagine two great armies on the battlefield, no uniforms, completely nude? No way of telling friend from foe. All brothers, together"
  • on his return home, a light-headed, gorgeous, shapely and voluptuous upstairs neighbor - The Girl (Marilyn Monroe as a quintessential blonde), who had forgotten her outer building key, met her married New Yorker neighbor Richard Sherman when she hit his buzzer to get in, allowing her entrance to the upstairs apartment above Richard's that she had rented for the summer
  • after seven years of marriage to his wife Helen, Richard - who was often prone to fantasy, bragged about how he was immune to the 'seven year itch' phenomenon of extra-marital affairs by repressed men: "Seven years we've been married and not once have I done anything like that. Not once. Don't think l couldn't have either. Because l could have, plenty. Plenty. Don't laugh, Helen. l happen to be very attractive to women. This isn't a thing one likes to tell his wife but women have been throwing themselves at me for years. That's right, Helen. Beautiful ones, plenty of them. Acres and acres of them"
  • then, Richard told Helen about three fantasized scenarios (shown as vignettes) regarding seductions that he claimed he had resisted: (1) with his secretary, Miss Morris (Marguerite Chapman) in the privacy of his office, (2) in his hospital bed by seductive Miss Finch (Carolyn Jones), the beautiful registered night nurse, and (3) a spoof of the From Here to Eternity (1953) beach kissing scene with his wife's best friend Elaine (Roxanne) on a moon-lit deserted beach with waves crashing onto the shore; during his fantasies, he told his wife that he had an "animal thing" that aroused women
  • in the "balcony scene," a pot with a tomato plant from the upstairs apartment balcony crashed into the chair Richard just vacated; it was an opportunity to invite his blonde tenant down to have a cool drink; the Girl innocently told Richard how she kept cool during the summer: "Let me just go put something on. I'll go into the kitchen and get dressed...Yes, when it's hot like this - you know what I do? I keep my undies in the icebox"
  • in another amorous fantasy, the Girl appeared coming down a staircase with a slinky strapless, sparkling black and gold evening gown and black gloves, flourishing a long cigarette holder; while wearing an elegant red dressing gown, Richard dreamt about seducing the Girl by playing Rachmaninoff's 2nd Piano Concerto, as she begged him: "Rachmaninoff...It isn't fair...Every time I hear it, I go to pieces...It shakes me, it quakes me. It makes me feel goose-pimply all over. I don't know where I am or who I am or what I'm doing. Don't stop. Don't stop. Don't ever stop!"
  • however, it was just a fantasy when he was interrupted from his reverie when the slovenly, T-shirted janitor Mr. Kruhulik (Robert Strauss) arrived to pick up the bedroom rugs for cleaning, arranged by Helen; when the Girl arrived wearing tight pink slacks and a matching pink blouse, he offered to prepare her a martini, as she stood in front of his air-conditioner to cool off (her upstairs apartment lacked A/C); the empty-headed Girl, with more physical assets than brains, described how she had caught her big toe in a bathtub drain and had to call a plumber
  • she also told Richard that she had previously lived in a women's club and was kicked out; she was briefly an "artistic" model, before becoming an actress doing Dazzledent Toothpaste Hour TV commercials every other week
  • after the Girl went to retrieve a bottle of champagne from her apartment (bought a few days earlier for her 22nd birthday), she returned and revealed that she had changed into a seductive white dress with loose criss-cross straps
  • during the 'party' scene, Richard helped the blonde to fasten the straps of her dress, while she was holding a bottle of champagne and a bag of potato chips: "I figured it just isn't right to drink champagne in matador pants. Would you mind fastening my straps in the back?...Potato chips, champagne, do you really think you can get it open?"
  • after a struggle to open the bottle, she accidentally discovered that he was married, but was relieved - nothing can get "drastic" with a married man: ("No matter what happens he can't possibly ask you to marry him because he's married already. Right?")
  • she ignored his attempt to seduce her by playing a recording of Rachmaninoff by claiming lack of interest, but then reassured him: "Hey, did you ever try dunking a potato chip in champagne? It's real crazy. Here...Isn't that crazy?...Everything's fine. A married man, air-conditioning, champagne and potato chips. This is a wonderful party"
  • in a memorable "Chopsticks" sequence, she was startled that he banged out the tune Chopsticks on the piano; she exclaimed: "Chopsticks! I can play that too. Shove over." She joined him on the piano bench, and they sang: ("Bum bum bum bum bum bum...") and played together. When they finished, she giggled and gushed: "I don't know about Rachmaninoff, whether it shakes you and quakes you and stuff, but this really gets me...and how!" After another hearty round of the song, she admitted: "I can feel the goose-pimples...." She began again, but he stopped. When she asked why: ("Don't stop. Don't stop"), he approached his musical partner with a romantically-snooty Charles Boyer-like accent: "You know why...Because, because now I'm going to take you in my arms and kiss you, very quickly and very hard." She jerked backwards, and his lips never quite reached hers as expected. They fell backwards off the piano bench as she blurted out: "Hey! Wait a minute." They were left sprawled on the floor together, and she asked: "What happened? I kinda lost track"
  • the next day at work, Richard was flustered, upset, and thinking he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown; during a counseling session in his office with psychiatrist Dr. Brubaker (Oscar Homolka) whose book he ws publishing, Sherman stretched back and explained how he was in serious trouble because he attempted to terrorize a young lady on a precarious piano bench - he feared he was afflicted with the Seven Year Itch
  • when Richard returned hom in the evening, he hoped he would have a quiet, unassuming and trouble-free evening; he invited the Girl to dinner and then to an air-conditioned movie on a hot summer evening; one of filmdom's most iconic and immortal sexual poses was found in this film - the Girl's famous pose in a white dress flying and billowing up around her knees
  • the sequence began as they left a movie theater screening. They discussed the movie they had just seen: The Creature From The Black Lagoon. She felt sympathy for the creature: "Didn't you just love the picture? I did. But I just felt so sorry for the creature at the end...He was kinda scary-looking, but he wasn't really all bad. I think he just craved a little affection - you know, a sense of being loved and needed and wanted."
  • then, she stood spread-legged astride a New York subway vent grating to cool herself during a hot summer, when a train whooshed by underneath her. She smiled as moving trains below blew and lifted her dress upwards above her legs with a rush of air: "Oh, do you feel the breeze from the subway. Isn't it delicious?"
  • she attempted, unsuccessfully, to keep her dress down; standing close by, Richard gaped at her and observed: "Sort of cools the ankles, doesn't it?"; soon, another train came by, and she squealed with child-like delight as it blew her skirt up one more time ("Oh, here comes another one!")
The Famous Subway Scene
  • afterwards, she told him that she was filming a Dazzledent TV commercial the next day. Trusting in him entirely, he easily tricked her into kissing him by saying that he doubted the truth of the commercials and the promise of flawless breath - she heartily agreed to kiss him: ("It's true. I'll prove it to you"); after her kiss, he pretended that he needed more proof: "My faith in the integrity of American advertising is somewhat restored....However, before I go to all the trouble of switching brands, I want to make absolutely certain" - and he returned the kiss
  • when they returned home, Sherman agreed to let her sleep in his air-conditioned bedroom, while he slept on the living room couch; however, due to Sherman's paranoia about being spotted with her in the apartment, he sent her back to her own apartment, feeling neurotic and guilt-ridden, but soon, she returned through a trap-door passageway from upstairs
  • the next morning while the Girl was in the shower while he prepared breakfast, Sherman continued to fantasize that Helen had returned home early after learning about his dalliances; she peppered the front door with bullets, and entered brandishing a gun and shot at him
  • realizing that Sherman (with a vivid imagination) was doubting himself and thought that women only wanted a man who looked like Gregory Peck, she bolstered his ego and showed some kindness to reassure him, ending with her ultimate compliment and unique accolade: "If I were your wife, I'd be very jealous of you. I'd be very very jealous. (She kissed him) I think you're just delicate"
  • in the film's conclusion, Sherman decided to spend two weeks on vacation in Maine and join Helen and Ricky; he gave the Girl the key to his place, and before he left, the Girl sent him off with a big kiss goodbye: "I have a message for your wife. (A kiss.) Don't wipe it off. If she thinks that's cranberry sauce, tell her she's got cherry pits in her head." The Girl implied that a little jealousy on Helen's part would make her more aware of his sex appeal to other women

Paperback Publisher Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell)

A Waitress' (Doro Merande) Views on the Virtues of Nudity

The Girl (Marilyn Monroe) - The Upstairs Neighbor

Fantasy Spoof of "From Here to Eternity"

Balcony Scene: "I keep my undies in the icebox"

Richard's Fantasy of Seducing The Girl With Rachmaninoff on the Piano

Strap-Fastening Help

Playing Chopsticks Together and Ending Up on the Floor

Richard's Fantasy: His Wife Helen's Return, Brandishing a Gun

The Girl's Complimentary Kiss: "I think you're just delicate"

Final Kiss with the Girl's Advice: "Don't wipe it off"


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