Billy Wilder preferred shooting in black and white, but Marilyn Monroe's contract with Fox called for all of her movies to be shot in color. Monroe always thought that she looked far more attractive and glamorous in color than in black and white.
The classic shot of Marilyn Monroe's dress blowing up around her legs as she stands over a subway grating was originally shot on Manhattan's Lexington Avenue at 52nd Street on September 15, 1954, at 1:00 a.m. Filming took place in the presence of 5,000 onlookers, who whistled and cheered through take after take as Monroe repeatedly missed her lines. Bill Kobrin, then-20th Century Fox's East Coast correspondent, told the Palm Springs Desert Sun in 2006 that it was Billy Wilder's idea to turn the shoot into a media circus, and he even had bleachers set up. This all occurred in the presence of an embarrassed and angry Joe DiMaggio, Monroe's husband at the time. The original footage never made it to the screen; the noise of the crowd had made it unusable. Wilder re-staged the scene on a Fox set replicating Lexington Avenue, and got a more satisfactory result. However, it took another 40 takes for Marilyn to achieve the famous scene.
Despite being one of the most iconic images in American and international pop culture history, as well as one of the most recognizable photographs of Marilyn Monroe, the famous full-length image of Monroe standing with her dress being blown up never actually appears in the film. The shot used in the film is only of her legs, cut with reaction shots, and never shown full-length.
According to George Axelrod, the reason The Girl has no name is because neither he, nor Billy Wilder could think of one.
Not without a distinct ring of irony, the nine-month Marilyn Monroe-Joe DiMaggio marriage officially ended during this shoot. DiMaggio was furious about the filming of the scene where his wife's dress blows up, and the next day, Monroe reportedly required make-up to cover up bruises from the ensuing domestic fight. Three weeks later, she filed for divorce.
Marilyn Monroe's iconic white dress set a record when it was auctioned for $4.6 million in June 2011 (rising to $5.5 million after taxes and fees were included), quintupling the previous record for a movie costume ($923,000 for Audrey Hepburn's "little black dress" from Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)).
In the 1970s Billy Wilder called the movie "a nothing picture because the picture should be done today without censorship . . . Unless the husband, left alone in New York while the wife and kid are away for the summer, has an affair with that girl there's nothing. But you couldn't do that in those days, so I was just straitjacketed. It just didn't come off one bit, and there's nothing I can say about it except I wish I hadn't made it. I wish I had the property now."
After seeing Walter Matthau's screen-test performance in the part of Richard Sherman, Billy Wilder believed he had found his leading man. However, 20th Century-Fox was unwilling to take the risk on a newcomer. That's when Wilder next turned his sights on the actor who had originated the role on Broadway, Tom Ewell -- who is inexplicably billed as "Tommy Ewell" in the opening credits.
Marilyn Monroe was anxious to work with Billy Wilder but had to agree to do There's No Business Like Show Business (1954) before Fox would allow her to do this film.
Bell Brand Snack Foods, a Southern California snack food manufacturer, sent cases of their products to various movie sets hoping they would be used in a film and their brand would go national. After Billy Wilder used Bell Brand Potato Chips in the film (The Girl brings a bag down to Richard Sherman's apartment and eats them with champagne), Bell Brand became famous. The company continued on until financial difficulties forced them to close in July 1995.
Marilyn Monroe's lifelong bouts with depression and self-destruction took their toll during filming; she frequently muffed scenes and forgot her lines, leading to sometimes as many as 40 takes of a scene before a satisfactory result was produced.
George Axelrod brought his script from the play with him to his first meeting with Billy Wilder, and told Wilder he thought they could use it as a guide. Wilder famously replied, "Fine. We'll use it as a doorstop."
Adapted from the Broadway play by George Axelrod starring Tom Ewell and Vanessa Brown. When the project moved from Paramount to 20th Century-Fox, Brown was replaced by Marilyn Monroe. Due to the Hays Code, not only was most of the racy dialogue omitted, over the objections of Axelrod and Billy Wilder, Sherman's romance with The Girl became a product of his imagination.
George Cukor was the original choice to direct the film. He turned down the project and eventually Billy Wilder, whose contract with Paramount ended in 1954 (his last film with that studio was Sabrina (1954)), took it.
The film was banned in Ireland, due to the fact it was "indecent and unfit for general exhibition."
In the early 1980s, 20th Century-Fox (which owns the film rights) planned to do a remake of The Seven Year Itch. Al Pacino was rumored to play Richard Sherman and Melanie Griffith was rumored to play The Girl. However, the project never came to fruition and, to date, no remake has ever been made.
Amazingly, Marilyn Monroe's very narrow spike heels don't get stuck or break in the subway grating that she stands on it in the movie's most famous scene, although this was a universal problem, at the time, for the countless women wearing that very popular style heel in New York City in that era.
Gary Cooper, James Stewart and William Holden were considered for the role of Richard Sherman, but Wilder was looking for much more of an "everyman" for the male lead.
An important promotional campaign was released for this film, including a 52-foot-high cutout of Marilyn Monroe (from the blowing dress scene) erected in front of Loews State Theater, in New York City's Times Square.
Marilyn Monroe's constant tardiness and behavioral problems made the budget of the film swell to $1.8 million, a high price for the time. The film still managed to make a nice profit.
Footage featuring Yankees catcher Yogi Berra and pitcher "Steady" Eddie Lopat that was filmed during an Indians-Yankees game on September 1, 1954, was meant to be a part of the gossip sequence when Sherman daydreams about news of his activities with The Girl spreading throughout New York City. Shooting for the film began that Wednesday afternoon. Twelve days earlier Hedda Hopper reported on the upcoming scene in her gossip column, adding that the script for the movie was the "best I've ever read."
Tom Ewell won the 1953 Tony Award for Actor in a Drama for "The Seven Year Itch" in the role of Richard Sherman, which he reprised in this film.
The original Broadway production of "The Seven Year Itch" by George Axelrod opened at the Fulton Theater on November 20, 1952 and ran for 1141 performances. Tom Ewell reprises his role in the movie. The play's author collaborated on the screenplay for the movie version.
Actress Carolyn Jones, who played Nurse Finch in a dream sequence of this film, once said about Marilyn in 1982, "We talked at great length. She was such a sad lady. She was just getting to the stage where she was frightened about losing her looks. It was an all-consuming fear."
Even though he played Richard Sherman 730 times in the Broadway production, and won a Tony Award for his troubles, Tom Ewell said he "never expected to get the part" in the film adaptation. "In fact, I had already taken a house on Martha's Vineyard for a vacation. Needless to say, I'm happy they did choose me."
Saul Bass created the opening animated title sequence for the film, his only title sequence for a Billy Wilder movie.
A Finnish study has concluded that the Seven Year Itch is actually an occurrence in marriage.
In an interview with Cameron Crowe in 1999, Billy Wilder revealed that the crew argued over who got to work on the dress-blowing moment.
In one of Richard's fantasies, Helen says that Kruhulik was really a private detective named Johnny Dollar. This is a reference to a radio drama titled "Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar" that ran on CBS from 1949 to 1962, with a hiatus from September, 1954, to October, 1955.
The movie premiere was on June 1st, 1955 which happened to be Marilyn Monroe's 29th birthday.
The New York movie theater that's supposedly showing Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) was really showing the Leslie Caron movie Lili (1953) at the time; the side of the theater visible to viewers had the "Creature" title on the marquee (along with a standee of monster and maiden on top of it), but the front of the theater marque (not visible) was still listing "Lili". A photo of the theater with all "conflicting" marquees visible was tacked up in the Fox photo department for decades.
The film rights to this film had originally been bought by Paramount Pictures. After director Billy Wilder left Paramount, the project moved to 20th Century-Fox.
The air conditioners so central to the film's plot were Emerson units from the 1954 model year--a Custom model for the living room and Compact models elsewhere. The Emerson logo was removed from the living room unit for filming.
Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the 400 movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
While many actors were considered for the role of Richard Sherman (played by Tom Ewell), no one but Marilyn Monroe was considered for the role of "the girl."
Included among the American Film Institute's 2000 list of the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.
The caption that goes by the "Textures" picture in U.S. Camera is about the Ruwenzori Mountains (Africa).
The famous grate scene was parodied in a 2016 Snickers commercial featuring Willem Dafoe as an angry, hungry Marilyn Monroe during the filming of the infamous scene.
Kathleen Freeman appears in one scene set in the vegetarian restaurant, but she does not get a line.
Helen and Ricky supposedly summer at a lakeside resort in Ogunquit, Maine, but there are no lakes in Ogunquit, which is a seaside town. And when Sherman calls, he mispronounces the town as "Ogonquit."