There is a film out there that I think has tremendous merit and value. It displays an analysis of the relationships between men and women and most importantly a lot of the misconceptions men have about women.
Unlike many others that attempt the same, this particular film casts a nervous, jittery, overworked husband as the protagonist. On top of that a good portion of the film explores his imagination and how he often misconstrues situations because of modern stereotypes about men and women. I feel the film so well satirizes his outlook on things that it is a truly positive film, vastly ahead of its time and is an essential part of film viewing.
So why haven’t you heard of this film?
Oh you have. You just know it for the wrong thing.
You see this film stars Marylyn Monroe in the very scene which, regretfully, she’s best known for.
Yep! You know exactly what one I’m talking about.
Thar she blows!
This whole thing becomes quite ironic when you realize what the film is actually about.
The Seven Year Itch is a 1955 film based on the play of the same name (originally written by George Axelrod). Adapted for the screen it has Tom Ewell reprising the lead role from the play and, of course, Marylyn Monroe.
It opens with a clever explanation about how there is a culture in New York of businessmen that send their wives and children out of the city during the hot months of summer while they work. As a result many of them develop a wandering eye for single women and it’s implied, heavily, that they cheat during this time.
Enter our protagonist Richard Sherman (played by Tom Ewell) who publishes books and is often forced to sex up the titles and covers of the books he sells. He is shown sending his own wife and child away for three weeks while at the same time condemning other men for their constant pursuit of women. As the narration explains he is burdened with a large imagination. He’s also incredibly jittery.
As a victim of his own imagination he often misconstrues situations and imagines incredibly escalated scenarios. For example, in an early part of the film he imagines his own wife having a conversation with him about him cheating while she’s away. During that she states that she doesn’t imagine a thing could happen despite his assurances that women have looked at him and approached him. These are accompanied by incredibly dramatic re-enactments that look like their cut from cheap porn.
At this time he meets his neighbour who is only identified as The Girl (Marylyn Monroe ) and we never learn her name. He invites her over for a drink imagining more scenarios where he seduces her (the piano one is just comedy gold) only to find that she simply treats him as an ordinary person.
She remains remarkably constant in the film as someone who simply enjoys Richard’s company and doesn’t seem to mind that he is attracted to her or that he’s married. Even when he first attempts to kiss her and ends up falling on her in the process she simply regards it as a mistake and forgives him quickly.
Now the question some might have is that does she forgive him because she genuinely believes he’s a relatively harmless man and it was a mistake or does she just find that sort of thing acceptable and common from men? The film paints it both ways but as it progresses and Richard’s swings between wanting to be with her and his incredible guilt she’s shown as growing to like him more and more for the fact he’s just a nice guy who won’t harm her.
This is compounded in the climax of the film where Richard imagines his wife shooting him for spending time with The Girl and at long last revealing to her (The Girl) his imagination. What follows is probably the most honest point of the film for him. Richard eventually admits that his wife ultimately trusts him despite the fact that he’s in a compromising situation now. What follows is an exchange that has a timeless merit as The Girl openly shatters Richard’s perception of women by simply having an honest conversation. This culminates in a speech from her that I truly feel should be the most timeless part of the film:
“Your imagination! You think every girl’s a dope. You think a girl goes to a party and there’s some guy in a fancy striped vest strutting around giving you that I’m-so-handsome-you-can’t-resist-me look. From this she’s supposed to fall flat on her face. Well, she doesn’t fall on her face. But there’s another guy in the room, over in the corner. Maybe he’s nervous and shy and perspiring a little. First, you look past him. But then you sense that he’s gentle and kind and worried. That he’ll be tender with you, nice and sweet. That’s what’s really exciting. If I was your wife I’d be very jealous of you. I’d be very, very jealous.”
That’s a line right there that every schoolboy and schoolgirl ought to know off by heart.
There’s a lot of room in this film to argue its merits as Richard is a married man attempting (badly) to cheat on his wife and The Girl is as objectified in the film as she is explored. At the same time Richard self-satirizes his own actions as he performs them, showing his attempts as the laughable bad ideas that they are. The Girl is offered without compromise but as the same time is shown to be a person albeit with a limited outlook on the world. At the same time there is an entire masculine culture around Richard, encouraging him to cheat on his wife while she’s away. Richard’s constant emotional see-saw on the matter portrays him as a man who is made a victim of masculine stereotypes forced upon him. There’s an interesting twist to that as he’s a book publisher he’s often forced to reinforce those stereotypes to sell books. As a result he’s a victim of a very system he himself uses.
It’s only The Girl who explains to him the simple reality of men and women. Granted he goes off on another imaginary tirade shortly after but at least his head’s in the right place.
Hence why I feel this film is timeless and you should most assuredly watch it.
So too does this work exist.