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.
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)).
Marilyn Monroe was eager to work with Billy Wilder but had to agree to star in There's No Business Like Show Business (1954) before Fox would allow her to make this film.
After seeing Walter Matthau's screen-test 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'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.
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 it to close in July 1995.
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.
The Seven Year Itch is one of the few films that utilizes footage of New York City's original Pennsylvania Station - opened in 1910 and torn down in 1963. The Beaux-Arts style station - considered a masterpiece of architecture - was modeled after the great, natural light stations of Paris, and a brief glimpse of its glass ceiling can be seen when Richard takes his wife and son to catch their train toward the start of the film. The destruction of the station - and the subsequent shock of a previously ambivalent city - is widely credited with jump-starting the historic landmark preservation movement.
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.
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.
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.
Actress Carolyn Jones, who played Nurse Finch in Richard's dream, once said about Marilyn Monroe 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."
The movie's poster was listed at #22 of "The 25 Best Movie Posters Ever" by Premiere.
The film was banned in Ireland due to the fact it was "indecent and unfit for general exhibition."
In the story, Marilyn Monroe's character is 22 years old. In actuality, her 29th birthday was the same day as the film's premier. Tom Ewell's character is 38 years old, whereas he was 46 years old when the film was released.
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.
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.
The movie premiere was on June 1st, 1955 which happened to be Marilyn Monroe's 29th birthday.
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."
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."
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.
Saul Bass created the opening animated title sequence for the film, his only title sequence for a Billy Wilder movie.
Amusingly they retained a line from the Broadway production where Tom Ewell sarcastically says "...and I've got Marilyn Monroe in the kitchen. " In the film he actually does have Marilyn Monroe in the kitchen.
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."
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.
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 marquee (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.
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.
A Finnish study has concluded that the Seven Year Itch is actually an occurrence in marriage.
This film marks the beginning of Monroe's super-stardom phase. For the next 4 years she cemented her status as a screen icon, up through 1959 with "Some Like It Hot", which then marked her swift decline in film roles and personal reputation.
Captain Video and His Video Rangers (1949), the spaceman show that Richard and his son discuss early in the film is an enigma of pop culture. It was an immensely popular show in the 1950s, a kind of proto-Star Trek (1966), and is the subject of numerous references in other shows, movies, and the comic essays of Dave Barry. It is also a lost show. Despite its popularity, the show's studio tapes were wiped around 1970, and only eight complete episodes are known to exist, making Captain Video something of a Library of Alexandria in the history of science fiction television.
Included among the American Film Institute's 2000 list of the Top 100 Funniest American Movies at #51.
Kathleen Freeman appears in one scene set in the vegetarian restaurant, but she does not have a line.
The paint scheme of the interior of the apartment building represented a very popular monochrome style of the day, in which everything is painted the same exact color - walls, trim, doors, stair railings, etc. While the subdued beige-gray look in this film is very sedate, an extremely overdone version of this can be seen five years later in the blue paint used in the country home in the film Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960).
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 famous subway vent pose has since reappeared in many forms, including television commercials and feature films. In the rock opera Tommy (1975) the subway pose was used as a sculpture representing over-ritualized religion and with the priestesses wearing Marilyn Monroe masks.
When Richard is first seen entering his apartment from the street, an elevated train is passing in the background. This was the IRT Third Avenue Line, which closed its Manhattan operation on May 12, 1955, three weeks before the film premiered in New York City.
There is a character named "Kubilick" who plays the neighbor in Billy Wilder's THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH. That character name reappears in Billy Wilder's THE APARTMENT. "Fran Kubilick" is played by Shirley MacLaine, Jack Lemon's love interest.
In one of Richard's fantasies Helen shoots him for playing around with The Girl and says she'll get away with it because of "the unwritten law." This refers to the legal fallacy that defense of marriage is justification for one person killing another. This was central to the plot of another Tom Ewell film, Adam's Rib (1949), in which his character is also shot by his wife (Judy Holliday) for having an affair and her attorney (Katherine Hepburn) raises the "unwritten law" in her defense.
The caption that goes by the "Textures" picture in U.S. Camera is about the Ruwenzori Mountains (Africa).
The music, Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto #2, provided the backdrop for another film, "Brief Encounter" (1945), the story of an extra-marital affair that begins and ends in a train station.
Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the 400 movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
Marilyn Monroe, Tom Ewell and Evelyn Keyes were several years older than their characters. Monroe was 28 while her character has 22, Ewell was 45 while his character has 38 to 39, and Keyes turned 38 during the filming while her character has 31. Ironically, Ewell's character speaks about the age of Keyes' character hinting that she's not young anymore, while he falls in love with the young girl played by Monroe, who in real life was only 3 years younger than Keyes' character.
The coaxial cable that Richard refers to was the forerunner to more sophisticated cable TV systems. Largely known as "community antenna television" or "CATV," the systems were primarily used in areas where terrain made reception of over-the-air TV stations difficult or impossible. The basic system had an over-the-air antenna atop a nearby hill or mountain, amplified the signal, then retransmitted the signal to nearby homes through antenna wires or cables. Some early systems were free, built by the homeowners who used them. The first commercial system in the U.S. was believed to be in the Lansford, Pennsylvania area around 1950. The only programming offered was from over-the-air TV stations in other communities. Programming specifically for cable did not begin until the mid 1970s.