AFI Movie Club: THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH – American Film Institute
The Seven Year Itch Film Still - Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell



Appearing on AFI’s list of the greatest American movie comedies of all time, THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH was directed by AFI Life Achievement Award recipient Billy Wilder – and stars Marilyn Monroe, named by AFI as one of the greatest screen legends of all time. 

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Watch Elle Fanning announce today’s film:


DID YOU KNOW? THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH was based on a hit play of the same name by George Axelrod. When producers across various studios expressed interest in obtaining the rights to the play for a screen adaptation, officials in the Production Code Administration advised that it could never be made into a film – maintaining that “adultery must never be the subject of comedy or laughter.”

DID YOU KNOW? Director Billy Wilder intended to concurrently film at least three separate versions of THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH – an English-language version starring Tom Ewell and Marilyn Monroe; a French-language production starring Fernandel; and a Spanish-language picture starring Cantinflas. According to producer Charles K. Feldman, an Italian-language version was also considered as a vehicle for Gina Lollobrigida.

DID YOU KNOW? Walter Matthau was director Billy Wilder’s original choice for the role of Richard in the filmed version of THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH – but the role went to Tom Ewell, who’d previously won a Tony Award® for his performance in the original stage production.

DID YOU KNOW? After the film first opened, it was protested by the National Legion of Decency, which threatened to give it a “C” – or condemned – rating for its themes of infidelity.

DID YOU KNOW? The tremendous publicity for THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH included a four-story cutout of Marilyn Monroe in her now-iconic pose hung at Loew’s State Theatre marquee in New York City. The National Legion of Decency objected to the revealing cutout, and it was replaced with a “more decorous” version. Some newspapers refused to run the ad featuring Monroe’s windswept skirt pose, and other ads had to be used in its place.

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.

The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

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-Controversial at the time for its depiction of infidelity, how do you think THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH plays today? Are its themes provocative? Why or why not – and how does your answer reflect the ways in which culture has changed since 1955?

-Why do you think the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe standing over the subway grate has become such a cultural touchstone? How does the image reflect the times as they were – or the times as they were changing?

-The filmed version of THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH had to be toned down considerably from its racier stage version. Do you think the movie would have been better if it had been more explicit in its depictions of infidelity? What effects did the restrictive Production Code have on art?

-How would you rate THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH?

Watch Bernadette Peters, Cher and Goldie Hawn discuss THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH in this exclusive clip from the AFI Archive:

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