Starring: Marilyn Monroe, Tom Ewell
Written by: Billy Wilder, George Axelrod
Directed by: Billy Wilder
My Rating: 4.2/10
Worth: watch Some Like It Hot or Sabrina
Clairometer: Ethel Thayer
This movie proves that just because it's old or considered a "classic" does not mean it's even remotely good. The first noticeably painful part that perpetuates throughout the entire film is Tom Ewell's incredibly annoying narration. It gives the impression of a bad high school play where the main character is buying time while he remembers his lines. Awkward can't even begin to describe the monologues. He tells you when he's going to smoke, eat, shower, leave for work, and go to bed. Perhaps if it were Carey Grant dressed in a tux telling me what he's doing as he does it, I might enjoy it. But it's not. It's Tom Ewell, dressed as an accountant fiddling with toast and cigarettes.
The Girl: "I think it's just elegant to have an imagination. I just have no imagination at all. I have lots of other things, but I have no imagination."
Lots of other things is right. While I will leave my Marilyn rant to another post, The Itch shows her at the height of her fake persona. Her character deflates the reputation of both sexes involved. Her naivete embarrasses every woman, while men should be embarrassed at its portrayal of a pair of legs making her stupidity seem attractive. Her character's name: The Girl. One might hope Billy was going for a Drive-style anonymity, but don't count on it. It just shows how little her personality matters that no one even asks her name. Her presence is clearly for visual purposes. I have no evidence, but the phrase "dumb blonde" was either coined or highly perpetuated by her performance.
The Girl: "When it gets hot like this, you know what I do? I keep my undies in the icebox!"
The premise is Summer. It can literally be summed up in one word. She needs air conditioning so she flirts with the world's dullest bumbling suspendered man to cool off and use his. Wives go away in the summer (apparently) like they're off to camp, leaving the husbands at home to be tempted by secretaries and new neighbors. At least the film shows society's progression in the past 60 years.
I have clearly established the unlikable main (and nearly only) characters but at least there's changes in venue right? Wrong. It technically takes place in Manhattan. But never has a sound stage been more obvious. Three quarters of The Itch takes place within one room. Now by no means am I stage expert, but I have heard of a little thing called blocking. Being limited to mostly one room to shoot does make blocking quite difficult, however, there should be natural reasons to change positions. Facing one direction to look at a picture, changing chairs to get closer to the air conditioning, going to the kitchen to get a snack. There were no reasons for movement, just two people floating about looking in all directions. It felt like the improve sketch where one person has to be standing and one has to be sitting and one has to be lying down - with out all the laughs.
The Girl: "This is what they call classical music isn't it? I could tell because there's no vocals."
You're probably now wondering, why even a 4.2? Ewell's character has very vivid fantasies. These were funny. These were typical Billy Wilder scenes and the reason I made it through the entire movie. I found myself rooting for his wife in his fantasies, wanting her to be with someone less neurotic. I wanted his fantasies to pan out for a quicker end to the movie. Reiterating a previous point, just watch Sabrina or Some Like It Hot if you want a quality 50's film to enjoy.