The Seven Year Itch is a 1955 romantic comedy that deals with the taboo subject of adultery and lost interest in a monogamous relationship after 7 years. The film stars Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell. The screenplay was adapted from the 1952 hit Broadway play of the same name, originally written by George Axelrod. Axelrod sold the rights for a screenplay adaptation to Billy Wilder. Wilder would also direct this American classic. Tom Ewell reprised his starring role in the film after his success in the Broadway production. Marilyn Monroe replaced Vanessa Brown who starred as “The Girl” in the original Broadway production. Check out various screen facts below.
Marilyn Monroe’s Iconic White Dress is the most Expensive Costume Ever Sold in Auction
The scene of Marilyn Monroe standing above a subway grate with her dress blowing up is one of the most iconic images of all time. The dress she wears in this scene was designed by William Travilla and sold in auction in June 2011 for $5.6 million. Gaining more than double the expected $2 million, the auction house believed it would fetch. To this day, it is among the most expensive costumes ever sold. Others on the list are: Audrey Hepburn’s Ascot Costume from My Fair Lady, Michael Jackson’s costume from Thriller, Judy Garland’s Dorothy costume from Wizard of Oz, Judy Garland’s Ruby Slippers from Wizard of Oz, and Marilyn Monroe’s costume from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
The original Broadway Production was Very Successful
The Seven Year Itch play written by George Axelrod was a huge success. It opened at the Fulton Theater on November 20, 1952 and ran for 1,141 shows. With Tom Ewell playing in 730 of the shows. Tom even won a Tony Award for his performance in the play. When he got the role in the film, he said “he never expected to get the part.” Since the play was so successful, Axelrod only sold the rights for his play to 20th Century Fox on the condition the film not be released before January 31, 1956. The writer wanted the play to earn as much money as possible. 20th Century Fox became impatient and paid an additional $175,000 to debut the movie on June 3, 1955. Axelrod was first paid $255,000 for the rights.
The Play May Have Been Better than the Movie
In the play, nothing is left to the imagination. The infidelity and adultery are clear and blatantly shown on screen. However, the production code in 1955 stated “adultery must never be the subject of comedy or laughter.” Director/writer Billy Wilder had his hands tied. Originally, he wanted to allude to adultery, but studio executives would not allow it. Instead, Wilder decided to make the adultery a fantasy. Wilder would go on to say he wished he had waited until the 1970’s to make the film as the production code ended by then.
The Dress Scene Caused a Big Commotion
The scene was shot in New York City at 1AM on a real subway grate on Lexington Avenue and 52nd Street. The only problem was a crowd of 1,000 to 5,000 fans came to watch. Behind the scenes, the crew was fighting over who got to control the fan that blew Monroe’s dress up. The scene was eventually re-shot in a Hollywood studio. However, damage had already been done. Marilyn Monroe’s husband, Joe DiMaggio, was one of the viewers in NYC, and he was not happy with the commotion. Monroe and DiMaggio divorced while filming was still in progress. Many say the way he felt watching that scene was the last straw. He still went to the film premier with Monroe, even though they had divorced.