The Seven Year Itch is getting some well-deserved attention in the blogosphere right now. The Chicago-based psychotherapist, Dr Gerard Stein, recalled how Marilyn’s performance awakened him to sex – and classical music – on his blog this week. (You can watch ‘the Rachmaninoff scene’ here.)
“My earliest recollection of any connection between sex and music was the 1955 film The Seven Year Itch, with Tom Ewell and Marilyn Monroe. The former imagined seducing the latter when a combination of circumstances fueled his fantasy: a stale, seven-year-old marriage; his wife’s temporary absence; and the availability of Ms. Monroe, his smoldering new neighbor. Ewell’s plan was to use Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto #2 to win her ardor. The scene above depicts his strategy.
Classical music in film usually isn’t intended to engender lust, although the cinematic hit 10, starring Bo Derek (with Dudley Moore playing the Ewell-like role), gave it a try in 1980, with Ravel’s Bolero serving to keep the erotic pace. Various recordings of the piece dominated the pop and classical charts in the months following.
The use of such music raises the question of whether a movie featuring a classic opus can open the audience to classical scores beyond those pieces featured in the film … Let’s start with the music attached to Ms. Monroe and Ms. Derek in the already mentioned films. Does any lonely soul watching Tom Ewell or Dudley Moore think he might achieve his romantic fantasy solely by his choice of CD while on a date? Surely no man with a recording of Bolero or Rachmaninoff playing in his living room regularly brings sex to the mind of women. Thus, a film’s featured sound track, if it is to cause anyone to listen after the cinema’s end, will have to stand on its own.”