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The Seven Year Itch – Billy Wilder

Submitted by on January 8, 2011 – 6:40 pmNo Comment

Soon after he returns to reality from this fantasy, he meets The Girl again when she knocks a tomato plant off her balcony onto his—in fact, onto the chair he has just vacated. He invites her down for a drink, unlocks the drawer where he keeps his cigarettes, turns down the lights, and plumps up the pillows before he realizes what he is doing. As he turns up the lights, he begins another fantasy in which The Girl appears in a slinky strapless evening gown and black gloves, flourishing a long cigarette holder. Sherman is at the piano in an elegant dressing gown, silk scarf wound about his throat, distinguishedly gray at the temples, lighted candelabra on the piano, playing Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto. The Girl is overwhelmed, swept away by the music. As they embrace on the piano bench (in a manner reminiscent of the famous Tabu perfume advertisement), the doorbell rings, and he awakens from his fantasy. It is only the slovenly janitor who wants to pick up the rugs for cleaning. Sherman gets rid of him just before The Girl arrives in tight slacks and matching pale pink blouse. He tells her that he is not married and has no children, explaining away the roller skate he is holding (on which he has once again slipped as he rushed to answer the door) by telling her he likes to rollerskate.

The Girl does not know what a martini is but lets him make her one while she stands in front of the air conditioner, raising her blouse to let the cool air blow on her midriff. New York is in the middle of a heat wave, and her apartment is not air conditioned. She tells Sherman she tried to sleep in a bathtub full of cold water but had to call in the plumber because her toe got stuck in the faucet. It was embarrassing, she says, because the man was a stranger and she had not polished her toenails. She also discloses that she has posed for an “artistic” picture in U.S. Camera and does Dazzledent toothpaste commercials for television. “More people see me than saw Sarah Bernhardt,” she muses.

The Girl’s artless conversation establishes her character; she is the empty-headed but beautiful and desirable blonde, the natural object of a quiet middle-aged man’s fantasies. She is so amiably childlike and innocent that she cannot be considered immoral. When she accidentally discovers that Sherman is married, she is relieved because nothing can get “drastic” with married men. “No matter what happens he can’t ask you to marry him,” she says.

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