Monday, June 28, 2010

In Defense of The Seven Year Itch

Three questions.

1.  Is The Seven Year Itch an exercise in wish-fulfillment fantasy or a character study of the six-months seven-years-later phenomenon?  It seems to me that the driving question is not whether Richard will get together with The Girl but whether Richard will remain true to Helen.  As evidence, I point to his jealousy when he finds out Helen went on a hayride with Tom MacKenzie.  I further point to the fact that all his fitful wandering begins from the point when he imagines Helen laughing off his claims that he appeals to other women.  This isn't a story about boy-meets-girl, this is a story about boy-figuring-out-how-to-stay-true-when-the-excitement-of-boy-meets-girl-has-worn-off.

And don't compare it to the play.  The film and the play are two separate pieces of art.  Take each for what it's worth.

2.  Is Richard Sherman a wandering husband or a lost child finding his way into adulthood?  Given his powerful imagination and his ineptness at wooing The Girl, I tend toward the latter.

3.  Is The Girl an innocent, dumb blonde or a conniving seductress?  I point to the major plot point of her kissing him on the lips and telling him not to wipe away the lipstick: "If she thinks that's cranberry sauce, tell her she's got cherry pits in her head."  What she doesn't say, but we hear nonetheless, is, "And if she thinks you've been kissing other girls and asks for a divorce, I'll be upstairs all summer."

Watch the film again, ask yourself these three questions, and let me know what you conclude.

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