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Thursday April 25th 2024

The Seven Year Itch | 1955

The Seven Year Itch filming location: 164 61st Street, New York
The Seven Year Itch filming location: Tom Ewell’s Manhattan apartment: 164 61st Street, New York

Wimpy Tom Ewell gets hot and bothered when Marilyn Monroe moves into his neighbour’s apartment. Set in New York, though the movie was shot largely in the studio in Hollywood.

The apartment, out of which Marilyn dangles Ewell's shoes, actually is in New York. See it on the East Side, unchanged, at 164 East 61st Street. At the time it was owned by one Julian Bach, who received $200 worth of whiskey for the use of it.

At the end of the street, you can see trains running over the Third Avenue El, the elevated railway that used to run from Battery Park up to the Bronx. The last of Manhattan’s elevated lines to run, it finally closed in the year that The Seven Year Itch was released. You can the the railway again in Wilder’s earlier film, The Lost Weekend.

The Seven Year Itch filming location: Lexington Avenue, New York
The Seven Year Itch filming location: the subway grating: Lexington Avenue, New York

At the time of filming, in September 1954, Monroe's marriage to Joe DiMaggio was falling apart. They were staying at Suites 1105 and 1106 in the St Regis-Sheraton Hotel, 2 55th Street at Fifth Avenue.

The notorious subway grating scene was largely staged as a publicity stunt. The studio made sure that the press knew exactly when and where the scene was to be shot, and that Marilyn would be wearing an outfit that would 'stop the traffic'.

Around 2,000 people turned up to witness the filming, including an enraged DiMaggio. The crowd roared as Monroe's skirt billowed up, and one of the most enduring Hollywood images was born.

The next day, Monroe was sporting bruises and within a few days she and DiMaggio had split. The close-ups of her legs were re-shot in Hollywood.

The subway grating was outside the Trans-Lux Theater, where Ewell and Monroe had just watched The Creature From the Black Lagoon. The Trans-Lux has since moved to 1221 Avenue of the Americas, but the subway grating can still be seen at the northwest corner of Lexington Avenue and 52nd Street.