Tuesday, September 15, 2009

That'd Really Blow Your Skirt Up

Fifty-five years ago today this very minute, Marilyn Monroe stood on a grate at Lexington and 52nd right here in NYC to film the infamous white skirt scene in The Seven Year Itch (1955).

According to This Day in History Joe DiMaggio (her husband at the time) was furious and thought the scene was exploitative. Well, duh. Who did he think he was marrying? It wasn't the first time or the last that Monroe's sex appeal was the whole point of an image or a film sequence. Alas, the footage you see in the movie was a reshoot thus ruining the point of this post --shut up, I just like talking about Marilyn. Though it's considered minor Billy Wilder, Itch was popular and the director and star would gloriously reunite for the classic Some Like It Hot (1959). This first pairing won some minor awards attention and Monroe was nominated for a BAFTA which she lost to Betsy Blair from Marty. Strange matchup, no?

I always wonder about the origin of certain ancient phrases like "break a leg", "knock your socks off" or "curl your toes". They have to start somewhere. Did "blow your skirt up" predate Marilyn's maneuver or spring from it?

Confession: Though I'm often bugging people to watch old movies and really know them rather than know of them through YouTube clips or cultural osmosis, I actually haven't seen this particular Monroe comedy. Weird. Have you?


rosengje said...

Hijacking this thread, but:
Tomas Alfredson is directing "The Danish Girl." Nicole Kidman is the coolest.

Runs Like A Gay said...

Or another side note.

The legs, in the theatre, refer to short curtains at the side of the proscenium arch. When the audience applaude and ask you to return to the stage the actor will grasp the leg and push it out of the way in order to get out and bow.

If the audience really really love you then this process will be completed many times, until the leg is broken.

Hence "Break a leg".

Not as exciting as Monroe's skirts, but there you go.

Wayne B said...

I always found DiMaggio and Marilyn's story to be tragically romantic. I read a story once that he sent fresh roses to her grave until he died. I find it incredibly classy of him that he never spoke of her publicly after she was gone.

par3182 said...

stop what you're doing and rent the seven year itch right now, nathaniel. it's hilarious

i caught it as a saturday matinee on tv in the 70s - it was my first exposure to marilyn and remains my favourite performance of hers

please see it - you'll never listen to rachmaninoff the same way again...

Timeless Fashion... said...

I've recently seen the actual size of MM's foot; it looks so small in films, including the pictures you present here, but the shoes designed for her suggest something else. I've put a short post on this on my blog. Check it out:

Deborah said...

I gave 7 Year Itch 5/10 (or 2 1/2 stars if you prefer). Marilyn is amazing and Ewell is funny, but there's no "there" there.

filmgeek said...

I saw it for the first time a week or two ago. I'll admit it was because I wanted to see the dress scene in context and I loved the film

Peter Nellhaus said...

I got to see Seven Year Itch in a theatrical double feature with How to Marry a Millionaire many years ago. The Wilder film didn't hold up as well.

There is a very funny male version of the airshaft scene, a silent Laurel and Hardy movie called Putting Pants on Philip, with Stan Laurel as a Scotsman in a kilt.

Nate said...

I first saw this movie when I was like 14. It came on cable all the time, I think AMC channel.

Anonymous said...

It's been some years since I watched it but I think it's still a very funny movie, you should check it out.

I remember I was surprised by a dialogue reference to gay people (I assume) almost in the first scene or so in the movie, when the main character says he's alone in the building except for two interior decorators living upstairs, or something like that.

I guess Wilder always had fun trying to fool the production code somehow, even in little ways.