23 October 2006 | claudio_carvalho
Naive and Innocent in the Present Days, Tested the Limit of Censorship in the 50's
In summertime in Manhattan, the plain and average Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell) sends his wife and son for vacation in the country. Sherman is the key man of a publishing firm, Brady & Company, which publishes cheap pocket books. The faithful Sherman has a routine life with his family and dreams on being successful with women. When a beautiful and sexy blonde lodges the upstairs apartment of his small building, Sherman first opens the front door for her and then he invites her to have a drink with him after the fall of her tomato vase on his chair on the backyard. Along the days, he spends some time with the girl and feels tempted by her, but later he misses his family and travels to meet them.
"The Seven Year Itch" is a naive and innocent romantic comedy in accordance with the contemporary moral standards, but actually this feature tested the limits of censorship in a time when Hollywood was ruled by a rigid moral code. The story is based on a George Axelrod popular 1952 Broadway play about a man that has an affair with his upstairs neighbor. Unfortunately in the 50's, the American cinema did not have the same artistic freedom as theater. The screenplays and movies were submitted to the scrutiny of the powerful Hayes office, the censorship of Hollywood. There was a Production Code in Hollywood that stated that adultery should not be the subject of comedy or laughs, and this story violated the Code. Billy Wilder was fascinated by this story and purchased the rights of George Axelrod. However, to make the movie was a challenge for this great director, since many scenes and lines were ripped away by the censorship and by the National Legion of Decency, mutilating the plot.
Marilyn Monroe was selected to the cast, but Billy Wilder wanted a plain, average and non-handsome actor for the role of Sherman. His first choice was Walter Matthaus, but Fox direction did not want to take the risk of an unknown lead actor, therefore they selected Tom Ewell. The most famous scene of Marilyn Monroe, with her dress being lifted by the air of the subway, was first an exterior scene, but later Billy Wilder needed to shot again in the set because the noise and whistles of the viewers spoiled the original footage. This external scene also provoked the end of the marriage of Marilyn with Joe Dimaggio, who felt humiliated with the manifestation of the public.
One dialog that I particularly like is when Sherman and the blonde leave the movie theater and she says that the creature needed to be loved, in an analogy between Sherman and the creature of the black lagoon. The restored DVD is fantastic and this is the most sexually suggested role of Marilyn Monroe to date. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "O Pecado Mora ao Lado" ("The Sin Lives on the Next Door")