Cinema Style File: ‘The Seven Year Itch’

The Seven Year Itch is a perfect summer movie, perhaps best-known for the iconic scene in which Marilyn stands above a subway grating, her white halter dress (designed by Travilla) blowing in the air.

However, it’s easy to forget the other designs worn by Marilyn in the movie, which are still influencing fashion today. GlamAmor takes a look at the ultra-modern style and colourful aesthetic of The Seven Year Itch.

“Seven Year Itch is a Style Essential from the very beginning…the opening credits are done by the great Saul Bass.  Saul did the graphic design and iconic opening title sequences for many of Hollywood’s greatest directors, including Otto Preminger and Stanley Kubrick.  He also changed graphic design by evolving from static credits to kinetic ones such as those he created for Alfred Hitchcock in Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), and Psycho (1960).  Martin Scorcese grew up admiring Saul’s work so much that he asked him (and wife Elaine) to create the most innovative of Scorcese’s opening credits, from Good Fellas (1990) to Casino (1995).  Sadly, Seven Year Itch is the only time that Bass worked with director Billy Wilder.

I frequently discuss the importance of costume design and style to the longevity of classic film and The Seven Year Itch is a prime example.  It is not the screenplay or directing that keep people watching this film; even screenwriter-director Billy Wilder was not a fan of the final script since it had to be altered so significantly from George Axelrod’s original play to suit the censors.  The appeal of The Seven Year Itch is not entirely about Marilyn either since there are other movies of hers that are not as memorable.  Instead, it is the iconic costume design–custom made for her and her character–and overall style of the film that attracts audiences and prompts them to watch it again and again.  I speak from experience.”

Larry Schiller: Writing About Marilyn

Lawrence Schiller spoke to the Wall Street Journal recently about his two new books on Marilyn…

“Last summer in June I saw the ads and the Michelle Williams story in Vanity Fair on ‘My Week With Marilyn.’ There’s no question that that triggered, in my mind, the fact that one year later was going to be the 50thanniversary of her death. I did not go see the movie; I did not read any of the articles because I experienced the real person myself.

I’ve written five books, but I’ve never written a book that way. I’ve never written with my own voice, looked at the warts on my own face. In writing the autobiography, I was going to look at myself warts and all.

I was giving you a view of Marilyn that had never been given before. I wasn’t giving you my opinions, I was giving something people had never experienced before. And as much as you can be Marilyn-ed out or The Beatles-out or Elvis Presley-out, there’s always room for something fresh.”

UPDATE: You can also watch a video interview with Larry Schiller, here.

Norman Mailer and The Girl Upstairs

This New York author’s infatuation with Marilyn is the stuff of legend, but according to a new documentary, Norman Mailer: The American, the feeling wasn’t mutual:

“Mailer tells a revealing story about how he almost met Marilyn Monroe, the subject of his fawning, conspiracy-mongering 1973 book, ‘Marilyn.’ In that coffee-table tome, Mailer takes some nasty swipes at fellow Brooklyn-Jewish boy Arthur Miller (who wrote ‘Death of a Salesman’ in the same apartment building where Mailer, in the upper floors, was writing ‘The Naked and the Dead.’)

Miller invited Mailer and Adele (Morales, his then-wife) to his Connecticut home at a time when the playwright and the movie star were married. Mailer showed up with every intention of stealing Monroe away, only to be told that she was out of town. Dirty trick.

Mailer found out later that Monroe, afraid of meeting him, had been hiding upstairs the whole time. At least that’s his version. Sounds like everybody involved dodged a bullet.” Bloomberg


MM Fan Exhibit in Baltimore

MM fan Jen Whitescarver’s collection of memorabilia is on display at Bel Air Public Library, in Harford County, Maryland, until the end of May, reports the Baltimore Sun.

“The collection at the Bel Air Library is on display courtesy of Jen Whitescarver, a library patron from Hydes, who responded to the library’s rolling call for unique collections to display at the library for one month at a time.

Whitescarver’s Marilyn Monroe collection has been at the Bel Air Library since the beginning of May and will be there for one more week.

Whitescarver says that the display at the library is only part of her collection. She has a room in her home dedicated to Marilyn, where she keeps even more books and photographs, as well as vintage copies of Playboy and Life featuring the blonde film star.”

Marilyn Film Festival in Hollywood

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood has teamed up with Playboy to host a Marilyn Monroe Film Festival, starting with Some Like it Hot on June 1 (Marilyn’s birthday.) You can also catch There’s No Business Like Show Business (2nd), How to Marry a Millionaire (3rd), The Seven Year Itch (4th), Bus Stop (5th), The Misfits (6th), and finally on June 7th, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Is ‘Blonde’ Back on Track?

This Bert Stern-inspired photo of Naomi Watts, published in the latest issue of Russian Vogue, suggests that the Australian-born actress hasn’t given up on her long-held dream of playing Marilyn.

Director Andrew Dominik spoke of his hope to bring Joyce Carol Oates’s novel, Blonde, to the big screen at Cannes this week:

‘”I really want to do [‘Blonde’],” he said. “It’s not something I can talk about, ’cause we’re trying to work some stuff out, but hopefully that’s going to be the next picture.” And when we asked about possible Cormac McCarthy adaptation “Cities of the Plain,” Dominik replied that the Monroe biopic has the advantage: “I like that one, but my heart belongs to Marilyn. I’d like to start shooting it next year, that’s what I’d like to do. It’s a really sprawling, emotional nightmare fairy-tale type movie, and I really want to do it real bad… It’s a story about an abandoned orphan who gets lost in the woods.”‘ – IndieWire


Meeting Michelle Morgan

Gabriella and Michelle

A guest post from screenwriter Gabriella Apicella.

“Meeting Michelle Morgan at her recent book signing in Northamptonshire, I stumbled over my words and rushed out embarrassing personal anecdotes about my own fascination with beloved Marilyn Monroe.  Gentle and gracious Michelle expressed appreciation of my enthusiasm (even though my parents later commented I had been a bit “full-on”) and spent several minutes relating how exciting she had found undertaking the enormous amount of research for her latest book.  Over the course of her research she has spoken to many people who met Marilyn and knew her either as a family member, or close personal friend: yet with humility and the spirit of a genuine fan, Michelle related how incredible it still feels when she makes contact with them.

Although she was able to relate lots of previously unknown information about Marilyn in the hardback edition of this book, she told me how happy it made her to be able to include so much more in this new paperback edition.  In just a few days I have devoured the book and certainly there are numerous nuggets that I had not known despite being a fan for almost 25 years.  Most importantly, this is a sincerely respectful work that does not engage with salacious rumours, but counts on evidence and personal testimony.  As such, it is possible to come to a closer understanding of the woman Marilyn was amongst those who genuinely knew her. I only normally buy books about Marilyn that are written by people who knew her, or where she has had some significant input herself, with Marilyn Amongst Friends, Marilyn: An Appreciation, Fragments, and Conversations with Marilyn remaining favourites.  Along with those, this is essential reading for anyone interested in who the woman behind the icon really was.

I would recommend any UK fan taking the opportunity to attend one of Michelle’s upcoming book signings.  She is such a generous and sincere woman, who has put an enormous amount of work into demonstrating what those of us who adore Marilyn have always known: that she was beautiful both inside and out.  Whilst the genuine fans amongst us brace ourselves for the numerous tabloid stories that are likely to attempt to cash in on this landmark anniversary, Michelle’s book provides the perfect antidote!”

Dean Chance Remembers Marilyn

Dean Chance, ‘perhaps the greatest high school pitcher ever’, was at the Dodger Stadium on Marilyn’s last birthday, when she attended a benefit match for Muscular Dystrophy, reports the Washington Examiner.

‘”In 1962, we’re playing a game in Dodger Stadium on June 1. They put up on the big scoreboard, ‘Today a special happy birthday!'” he said. “I was thinking it was mine. But who was it? Marilyn Monroe. The only time I ever met her.”‘

A Palm Springs Star For Marilyn

A young Marilyn in Palm Springs, 1940s

Marilyn’s star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars (first unveiled in 1995) will be rededicated on her birthday, June 1st, reports KESQ.

“The city just assembled a 26-foot-tall statue of Monroe last week and, for the June 1 star rededication, Manhattan in the Desert deli and bakery will provide a birthday cake big enough to serve 250-300 people, walk organizers said.

The ‘Forever Marilyn’ statue — it depicts the star trying to hold her dress down as it is blown up by a rush of wind from a subway vent in ‘The Seven Year Itch’ — will be unveiled Thursday at Palm Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Canyon Way.”