The Seven Year Itch appears in an aspect ratio of 2.55:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The image held up well after all these decades.
Sharpness seemed solid throughout the movie. During a few wide interior shots, I thought the picture looked slightly soft, but this was a minor concern.
I saw no problems related to moiré effects or jagged edges, and edge haloes remained absent. Print flaws also failed to mar the presentation.
To match the movie’s middle-class buttoned-down world, Itch went with a fairly subdued, blue-gray oriented palette. The disc made the colors look positive, and occasional examples of more dynamic hues felt full and rich.
Black levels appeared deep and taut as well, while shadows felt smooth and concise. This ended up as an appealing presentation.
One minor note: the opening credits of Itch are windowboxed, which means that black bars appear on all four sides of the picture. I guess this was done to make sure that none of the text got cropped by TV overscan.
This made more sense in the era of DVDs and tube TVs, but with Blu-rays and flatscreens, it’s a waste. In any case, this technique ends as soon as the credits conclude.
The Seven Year Itch provided a competent but modest DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. The film’s soundfield remained fairly centralized, but it offered gentle spread to the sides at times.
Speech was vaguely localized to the sides, but I didn’t hear the extremely wide imaging encountered during other Cinemascope efforts. Instead, most of the dialogue either appeared to come from the center or it stretched midway between the middle and the side, so very little speech emanated specifically from the far right or left.
Music provided moderate stereo imaging, but the various songs also seemed to be generally anchored in the center. Effects tended to go the ambient route, and these provided acceptable usefulness.
A few elements did crop up nicely on the sides, so material like buzzing doors and ringing telephones both were clearly localized. I thought that the soundfield featured decent stereo imaging for the era, but it wasn’t anything special.
Audio quality appeared fairly good for an older film, but it still showed a few concerns. Most speech sounded reasonably natural and distinct, and I never encountered any problems related to intelligibility.
Distortion also affected some effects, but not many. Really, only the gunshots that occurred in one scene showed this degradation, as most of the elements seemed acceptably clear and accurate. They remained a minor factor in the film, but they worked fine.
Music fit in neatly with the rest of the audio, and the various songs appeared to be relatively vibrant and dynamic. Highs sounded fairly crisp and clean, and bass response seemed pretty good for a movie from the mid-Fifties. Ultimately, The Seven Year Itch featured a fairly subdued but solid soundtrack.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD? The lossless audio seemed a bit warmer and better localized, while visuals became tighter, cleaner and more dynamic. This was a nice upgrade.
We get the same extras as the DVD plus additional goodies, and these start with an audio commentary from biographer Kevin Lally. He presents a running, screen-specific look at cast and crew, production areas, the source and its adaptation, censorship and connected domains.
For the most part, Lally delivers an informative commentary. While he goes silent a little more than I’d like, he still conveys a lot of useful material, and he even discusses aspects of the movie he dislikes, a rare quality. This ends up as a pretty good chat.
Another audio piece that runs alongside the film, we can view Itch with an isolated score track. This presents the music in its DTS-HD MA 5.1 glory.
Another accompaniment, we can opt to access a Hays Code Picture-in-Picture feature. This comes with two elements, the most useful of which provides occasional comments on the Hays Code and movie censorship.
This area brings notes from Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, biographer Lois Banner and authors Gerald Gardner and Thomas Doherty. They discuss aspects of the Hays Code and its evolution as well as its impact on Itch.
When these segments appear, they offer decent information. However, they show up so infrequently that they lack a lot of impact.
For the second part of the PiP feature, it shows a meter that indicates how salacious the onscreen material is – in Hays terms, at least. We also get allusions to the Code areas violated. It’s cute but not especially useful.
Next comes Hollywood Backstories, an AMC Channel program that runs 24 minutes, 25 seconds. We hear from film historian Gerald Gardner, Itch writer George Axelrod, Hugh Hefner, biographer Donald Spoto, Marilyn’s friend James Haspiel, and actor Eli Wallach. In addition, director Billy Wilder appears in some older interview shots.
“Backstories” provides an entertaining and informative discussion of the making of Itch. It emphasizes two areas: the censorship problems the crew experienced, and the hubbub that surrounded Marilyn.
We get a nice look at both subjects, and the show adequately covers its subject. I especially enjoy a quick peek at Walter Matthau’s screen test for the film.
Monroe and Wilder: An Intersection of Genius lasts 25 minutes, 58 seconds and offers info from Lally, Banner, Hefner, Doherty, Gardner, film historians Bernard F. Dick and Glenn Hopp, author/actor John Gilmore, actor Don Murray, and Hollywood columnist James Bacon.
“Genius” looks at aspect of the film’s production, with some emphasis on Billy Wilder and Marilyn Monroe. Inevitably, some material repeats from the commentary and elsewhere, but “Genius” still offers a good overview.
After this we find Fox Legacy, a Fox Movie Channel program that spans 17 minutes, 22 seconds. Hosted by former Fox chairman/CEO Tom Rothman, this program covers the movie’s salacious content and censorship issues as well as elements of Monroe's troubled life.
Again, we find some repetition from other domains here. Nonetheless, “Legacy” delivers a solid take on the topics.
Two Deleted Scenes appear: “Subway” (2:09) and “Bathtub” (1:23). Both segments offer extended versions of existing sequences, and the amount of new footage found in each lasts only a few seconds.
It’s good to have these here, but don’t expect much from them. Indeed, if you’ve watched “Backstories” – where they largely appear - you’ve already seen everything important.
Under Publicity, we get two trailers and a Movietone News clip entitled “The Seven Year Itch Has a ‘Sneak’ Preview” (0:34). It’s brief but mildly interesting.
Two Still Galleries finish the disc: “Advertising” (10 images) and “Behind the Scenes” (31). Both offer some interesting elements.
While it often shows its age, 1955’s The Seven Year Itch remains a charming and amusing look at attempted marital infidelity. The film endures in the public imagination due to its star, but even without Marilyn Monroe, it’d still offer a fairly entertaining experience. The Blu-ray provides good picture and audio as well as a fine roster of bonus materials. This winds up as a nice release for a witty movie.