Tag: Seven Year Itch

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 | ***B&D SATURDAY FLASHBACK*** Sabrina (1954)

Sabrina poster
And so I stumble across another Billy Wilder picture that I had no idea was a Billy Wilder picture until his name popped up on the screen.  It turns out this dude churned out a lot of movies that have stayed pretty famous and kept good reputations 60 odd years later.  And of all his movies that I’ve seen, Sabrina definitely falls more on the side of things like The Seven Year Itch than something like The Lost Weekend.

So, Humphrey Bogart, the original hard boiled PI and king of film noir.  The ruthless gangster of more than one James Cagney movie.  The greed infected killer of The Treasures of the Sierra Madre…  Not exactly the guy you expect to see in a love triangle fuelled, romantic comedy romp.  But here is, none the less.

One half of pair of brothers with William Holden, the two are described in the opening voiceover with Bogart, “Linus Larrabee, the elder son, graduated from Yale, where his classmates voted him The Man Most Likely to Leave His Alma Mater Fifty Million Dollars. His brother, David (Holden), went through several of the best eastern colleges for short periods of time, and through several marriages for even shorter periods of time. He is now a successful six-goal polo player and is listed on Linus’s tax return as a six hundred dollar deduction.

While they grew up in luxury, their chauffer’s daughter, the titular Sabrina, played by Audrey Hepburn, grew up in love with their life and in love with David.  After a couple of years in France, Sabrina returns grown up enough to finally be noticed by David.  Hepburn really is one of the only actresses who could ever play a part like this.  When David declares his love almost immediately after her return, and when every man at a party stops dead in their tracks on her arrival, it never seems far fetched.  If any women in the history of Hollywood could have that effect, it’s Audrey Hepburn.

David’s infatuation with Sabrina threatens to destroy a $20million business merger, so Linus decides to intervene and stop the two from hooking up.  And you’ll never guess, but Linus falls in love with her too.

With almost six decades of terrible rom coms in its wake bastardising so much of movies like Sabrina, no one is going to be surprised by the ending and the path it takes to get there, but it’s how the movie delivers these now old standard devices that makes it work.  The comic relief of the Larrabees hen pecked father works every time, the growing attraction between Bogart and Hepburn is totally believable and the schmaltz is never too on the nose.

Really, with two of Hollywood’s greatest screen presences in Bogart and Hepburn (plus Holden isn’t too bad either), and one of the greatest directors of all time, I shouldn’t be surprised by how good Sabrina is, but it really did take me off guard.  I just never expected anything that could be described as a rom com to be this watchable.

(Review originally posted Dec 19, 2013)

Sabrina
Directed By – Billy Wilder
Written By – Billy Wilder, Samuel A Taylor, Ernest Lehman

MOVIE REVIEW | Sabrina (1954)

Sabrina poster
And so I stumble across another Billy Wilder picture that I had no idea was a Billy Wilder picture until his name popped up on the screen.  It turns out this dude churned out a lot of movies that have stayed pretty famous and kept good reputations 60 odd years later.  And of all his movies that I’ve seen, Sabrina definitely falls more on the side of things like The Seven Year Itch than something like The Lost Weekend.

So, Humphrey Bogart, the original hard boiled PI and king of film noir.  The ruthless gangster of more than one James Cagney movie.  The greed infected killer of The Treasures of the Sierra Madre…  Not exactly the guy you expect to see in a love triangle fuelled, romantic comedy romp.  But here is, none the less.

One half of pair of brothers with William Holden, the two are described in the opening voiceover with Bogart, “Linus Larrabee, the elder son, graduated from Yale, where his classmates voted him The Man Most Likely to Leave His Alma Mater Fifty Million Dollars. His brother, David (Holden), went through several of the best eastern colleges for short periods of time, and through several marriages for even shorter periods of time. He is now a successful six-goal polo player and is listed on Linus’s tax return as a six hundred dollar deduction.

While they grew up in luxury, their chauffer’s daughter, the titular Sabrina, played by Audrey Hepburn, grew up in love with their life and in love with David.  After a couple of years in France, Sabrina returns grown up enough to finally be noticed by David.  Hepburn really is one of the only actresses who could ever play a part like this.  When David declares his love almost immediately after her return, and when every man at a party stops dead in their tracks on her arrival, it never seems far fetched.  If any women in the history of Hollywood could have that effect, it’s Audrey Hepburn.

David’s infatuation with Sabrina threatens to destroy a $20million business merger, so Linus decides to intervene and stop the two from hooking up.  And you’ll never guess, but Linus falls in love with her too.

With almost six decades of terrible rom coms in its wake bastardising so much of movies like Sabrina, no one is going to be surprised by the ending and the path it takes to get there, but it’s how the movie delivers these now old standard devices that makes it work.  The comic relief of the Larrabees hen pecked father works every time, the growing attraction between Bogart and Hepburn is totally believable and the schmaltz is never too on the nose.

Really, with two of Hollywood’s greatest screen presences in Bogart and Hepburn (plus Holden isn’t too bad either), and one of the greatest directors of all time, I shouldn’t be surprised by how good Sabrina is, but it really did take me off guard.  I just never expected anything that could be described as a rom com to be this watchable.

Sabrina
Directed By – Billy Wilder
Written By – Billy Wilder, Samuel A Taylor, Ernest Lehman

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