Friday, 8 May 2015
The Seven Year Itch (1955)
This film is adapted from a play, and its stage origins are obvious from the start. Our main character - the odious Richard Sherman - soliloquises constantly to himself. About his apartment, his wife, his son, and about the many, many young women he could have seduced had be been "that sort".
Sherman, you see, is alone in Manhattan for the summer while his wife and child holiday in the cooler climes of Maine. This is something many men of business do during the hottest part of the year. A lot of them also use that time to drink too much, smoke too much, and chase unattached women. But Sherman - as he loudly and vociferously reminds himself - is not going to do any of those things. Not because he can't, of course. He's perfectly capable of seducing any woman he chooses, he assures himself and an imaginary version of his wife. He's just too upright a person to do so.
Since my use of the word "odious" in introducing Sherman has tipped my hand to my opinion of the man, I'm sure you will be unsurprised to hear that he's about to learn that he has a new, very attractive neighbour for the summer.
But don't worry, he's not "that sort". He certainly won't be pretending to be unmarried, inviting her in for a drink, or attempting to paw her on a piano stool.
Oh wait, that's exactly what he's going to do, all within a few hours of meeting her.
So obviously there's a big cultural shift between the 1950s, when "man struggles (not very well) with the temptation to cheat" is a source of highlarity, and today, when it just makes me want to give his wife the number of a good divorce lawyer. To the script and actors' credit, they occasionally are quite funny, despite the fundamentally repellent core concept of the film. But the core concept remains, and no amount of Marilyn Monroe standing on a steam vent is going to redeem that.