Tag: Marilyn Monroe

MOVIE REVIEW | ***B&D SATURDAY FLASHBACK*** The Seven Year Itch (1955)

seven_year_itch

When I think of Billy Wilder, I think of pretty dark and / or cynical stuff, like Sunset Boulevard or The Apartment, or not so long ago, Lost Weekend.  I don’t think of screwball comedies.  I know he made Some Like It Hot and that for some people, that’s the epitome of a screwball comedy, but I just found it boring, corny and too predictable every step of the way.  So, with that as my only previous experience with Wilder on comedy, it’s probably for the best that I didn’t know going in that The Seven Year Itch is a) a screwball comedy, and b) directed by Billy Wilder.

The opening scene shows the American Indians who inhabited Manhattan back in the day, shipping their wives and kids off to cooler climates to escape the blistering New York summer.  When the narrator calls this scene out for being pointless and serving no real purpose, I was straight away on board with this movie.  That’s the kind of joke I can really get behind.

Cut to present day 1955 and a Manhattan train station is full of men in suits, bidding goodbye to their own wives and children, off on summer vacations while their husbands stay to work in the city.  Main character Richard Sherman, played by Tom Ewell, explains this summer ritual by talking aloud, to himself.  This continues for the remainder of the movie.  If he’s not talking to another character, he’s talking to himself, explaining every thought, every nuance of the situation, every beat of story, so the audience always knows exactly what’s going on in his head.  This is the most blatant signifier that The Seven Year Itch is based on a play where a character vocalising their internal monologue wouldn’t seem as out of place as it does on the screen.  It kind of annoyed me at first, but once I got into the groove, it actually lead to some of the movie’s best jokes.

It turns out that it was quite common back then for blokes to bang around while their old ladies were off on holiday with the kids (it was a simpler time).  So when Ewell realises a new girl is staying in the apartment above him, and that this new girl is played by Marilyn Monroe, he starts to freak out about the inevitability of her gagging for a bit of what he has to offer.  His constant delusions about his own irresistibility, his paranoia and his guilt over things he hasn’t even done all pile on top of each other, getting funnier and funnier, until he learns a valuable lesson about how lucky he is to have his wife and son.  It’s not as sappy that sounds though.

I get that Marilyn Monroe is a bit of alright, but I don’t get the appeal of her schtick.  Why did men go so crazy for her annoying little girl voice and even more annoying delivery?  The infantilization thing is just creepy.  And it means I really have no idea if she’s actually a good actor or not.  Is it all an act and she’s delivering an amazing performance?  Is she high as shit on quaaludes?  Is she high as shit on a Kennedy or two?  I really have no idea.  But I do know The Seven Year Itch is a solid comedy that holds up after almost sixty years.

(Original review posted Sept 24, 2013)

The Seven Year Itch
Directed By – Billy Wilder
Written By – George Axelrod, Billy Wilder

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #22. Some Like it Hot (1959)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.
somelikeithot_poster
“I don’t care how rich he is, as long as he has a yacht, his own private railroad car, and his own toothpaste.

The vast majority of this AFI countdown has been filled with classics that I totally agree deserve their place on this list.  Even movies I might not personally love, I can understand why others do, and respect that adoration and they’re inclusion on this top 100.  But ever since I decided to make my way through this list, I have been dreading this title.  Not only is Some Like it Hot crazily high on this list, it’s number one on the AFI’s Best Comedies list.  Which is weird, because one of the only movies I can think of that’s less funny than Some Like it Hot, is the Wayans’ brothers remake, White Chicks.  But, I committed to this countdown, so I was committed to once again being totally underwhelmed by the very not funny, Some Like it Hot.


It’s the 20s in Chicago, and after witnessing the St Valentine’s Day Massacre, club musicians Joe (Tony Curtiss) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) are on the run from the mob.  To escape town undetected, they throw on some dresses and makeup, and join an all girl show band headed for Florida.  Now going by Josephine and Daphne, Joe and Jerry are both immediately infatuated with fellow band member, Sugar Kane Kowalczyk (Marilyn Monroe). (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***SWANSONG WEEK*** The Misfits (1961)

Misfits

“Honey, nothing can live unless something dies.”

Before I decided to do this Swansong Week, I’d never heard of The Misfits. I just decided Marilyn Monroe was legendary enough to be included and went to the last movie listed on her IMDB page.  Then, as the opening credits began to roll, I discovered I was in for something big.  The actors alone would make The Misfits more than worth your time.  As well as Monroe, you also get Clark Gable (also giving his last movie performance), Eli Wallach and Montgomery Clift.  Plus, behind the camera is director John Huston.  Then, you have all of this immense talent working from an Arthur Miller screenplay.  How could The Misfits be anything less than amazing?


The recently divorced Roslyn (Monroe) is going out to celebrate with her friend Isabelle (Thelma Ritter).  With Roslyn’s car is undrivable after an accident, they get a lift to a divey Reno casino with mechanic Guido (Wallach).  At the casino, they meet Guido’s friend Gay Langland (Gable), an aging cowboy who immediately sets his sights on Roslyn.  Soon, they all end up at Guido’s house out in the desert where he’s let things go after the death of his wife.  Gay convinces Roslyn to take a chance on him and stay in Guido’s house with him.  She does, they begin to fall in love and play house. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)

how_to_marry_a_millionaire1
Ah, the 50s.  A simpler time, when a woman’s only job was to look pretty enough to snag herself a husband.  And a man’s only job was to be super rich so to attract the pretty girls.  I guess there’s technically a message about how this approach to love is wrong in How to Marry a Millionaire, but the gold digging shenanigans take up so much of the running time, any moral, feel good revelations are all but lost in the mad cappery.


Schatze (Lauren Becall), Pola (Marilyn Monroe) and Loco (Betty Grable) are three New York models who have come up with a plan to find and marry millionaires.  On the assumption that money attracts money, they rent a luxurious apartment they can barely afford and find reasons to bring men home and infiltrate their upper class lifestyles.

Becall, the brains of the operation, has the most success.  She meats J.D, a nice older rancher from Texas (William Powell) who knows what she’s up to, but sees the good inside her anyway.  She also catches the eye of Tom Bookman (Cameron Mitchell) who she assumes works in a service station, but in fact has a couple of hundred million bucks of his own.  He’s just wary of gold digging moles, so he keeps his fortune a secret while having a red hot crack at Becall.

Monroe and Grable also meet their own screwball comedy character suitors, but their stories take a backseat to Becall’s pretty early on.  Which leads to the one big problem I had with How to Marry a Millionaire.  The lead characters are all great and all really funny when they get the opportunity.  Even Monroe’s schtick seemed to fit in perfectly here, where usually I just find it aggravating.  But the problem is, besides the core triangle of Becall, Mitchell and Powell, no one else really gets that much to do.

In the early stages, it’s all about the three women and they play off each other perfectly.  But once the men enter the picture, it becomes a real rush to the end credits with Monroe and Grable literally sent away from the action of the story while Becall gets her freak on.

Despite the rushed third act, How to Marry a Millionaire is a better than good movie.  The three central broads somehow remain likeable, even in the early stages when they’re nothing more than money hungry opportunists.  Maybe the movie should have ditched Grable’s character and left a little more room for Monroe’s.  Because of the three, Grables happy ending seems the most half assed and convenient, while also being by far the least earned.

How to Marry a Millionaire
Directed By – Jean Negulesco
Written By – Nunnally Johson

MOVIE REVIEW | The Seven Year Itch (1955)

seven_year_itch

When I think of Billy Wilder, I think of pretty dark and / or cynical stuff, like Sunset Boulevard or The Apartment, or not so long ago, Lost Weekend.  I don’t think of screwball comedies.  I know he made Some Like It Hot and that for some people, that’s the epitome of a screwball comedy, but I just found it boring, corny and too predictable every step of the way.  So, with that as my only previous experience with Wilder on comedy, it’s probably for the best that I didn’t know going in that The Seven Year Itch is a) a screwball comedy, and b) directed by Billy Wilder.

The opening scene shows the American Indians who inhabited Manhattan back in the day, shipping their wives and kids off to cooler climates to escape the blistering New York summer.  When the narrator calls this scene out for being pointless and serving no real purpose, I was straight away on board with this movie.  That’s the kind of joke I can really get behind.

Cut to present day 1955 and a Manhattan train station is full of men in suits, bidding goodbye to their own wives and children, off on summer vacations while their husbands stay to work in the city.  Main character Richard Sherman, played by Tom Ewell, explains this summer ritual by talking aloud, to himself.  This continues for the remainder of the movie.  If he’s not talking to another character, he’s talking to himself, explaining every thought, every nuance of the situation, every beat of story, so the audience always knows exactly what’s going on in his head.  This is the most blatant signifier that The Seven Year Itch is based on a play where a character vocalising their internal monologue wouldn’t seem as out of place as it does on the screen.  It kind of annoyed me at first, but once I got into the groove, it actually lead to some of the movie’s best jokes.

It turns out that it was quite common back then for blokes to bang around while their old ladies were off on holiday with the kids (it was a simpler time).  So when Ewell realises a new girl is staying in the apartment above him, and that this new girl is played by Marilyn Monroe, he starts to freak out about the inevitability of her gagging for a bit of what he has to offer.  His constant delusions about his own irresistibility, his paranoia and his guilt over things he hasn’t even done all pile on top of each other, getting funnier and funnier, until he learns a valuable lesson about how lucky he is to have his wife and son.  It’s not as sappy that sounds though.

I get that Marilyn Monroe is a bit of alright, but I don’t get the appeal of her schtick.  Why did men go so crazy for her annoying little girl voice and even more annoying delivery?  The infantilization thing is just creepy.  And it means I really have no idea if she’s actually a good actor or not.  Is it all an act and she’s delivering an amazing performance?  Is she high as shit on quaaludes?  Is she high as shit on a Kennedy or two?  I really have no idea.  But I do know The Seven Year Itch is a solid comedy that holds up after almost sixty years.

The Seven Year Itch
Directed By – Billy Wilder
Written By – George Axelrod, Billy Wilder