An Iconic Marilyn Monroe Movie Scene Had to Be Reshot Because of Crowd Noise

Marilyn Monroe remains relevant as a sex symbol decades after her tragic death. During her life, she couldn’t escape her fame. The public’s interest in Monroe crept into every facet of her life. It even caused a movie studio to reshoot a movie scene that is now considered truly iconic. The Seven Year Itch’s production team originally shot the famous scene of Monroe’s dress blowing up around her on location in Manhattan. Later, it had to be reshot on a sound stage because of crowd interference. 

Marilyn Monroe’s dress flying into the air is among her most memorable 

Before her tragic death at just 36, Marilyn Monroe had appeared in countless magazines and 33 movies. While All About Eve was her breakout movie, it was far from her most memorable. Monroe’s most iconic role was likely in The Seven Year Itch. At the very least, it’s the film with her most famous scene. 

Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell film a scene for 'The Seven Year Itch' outside a food store at 51st Street and Lexington Avenue
Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell with a crowd | Bettmann/Getty Images

In the movie, Monroe’s character, The Girl, becomes the object of a married man’s infatuation. Richard Sherman, played by Tom Ewell, learns about the propensity to cheat during the seventh year of marriage, just as he meets his new, very beautiful neighbor. He takes her out for dinner and a movie but ultimately returns to his family, who is spending the summer out of state. The film features the iconic moment when Monroe, as “the girl,” stands over a subway grate and has her dress blown up around her. 

20th Century Fox attempted to film Marilyn Monroe’s dress scene on location 

The scene was the most iconic moment in the entire movie. In fact, you could say it’s the moment that, in some ways, defined Marilyn Monroe’s career. Capturing the scene and the photos that later became more famous than the movie scene wasn’t all that easy. 

Director, Billy Wilder, planned to film the moment on location in New York City. As they began filming on Lexington Avenue between 52nd and 53rd street, a large crowd formed. Every time Monroe’s dress was blown up, as depicted in the scene, the crowd responded enthusiastically. The yelling was so loud that the footage was completely unusable. It was an important moment in the movie, so something had to be done. 

Billy Wilder later reshot the scene on a soundstage 

The crowd’s hollering during each take made it impossible for the production team to utilize the footage captured on the streets of Manhattan. At the time, it was impossible to isolate the sound that was intended for the film from the sound of the increasingly enthusiastic crowd. 

Marilyn Monroe speaks with Billy Wilder on the set of 'The Seven Year Itch'
Marilyn Monroe and Billy Wilder | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The production team headed into a soundstage and refilmed the scene to address the issue. Wilder closed the stage to everyone to ensure the cameras captured usable footage. Melissa Stevens, the granddaughter of famed photographer, Sam Shaw, told Biography, “Billy Wilder reshot the scene on a closed soundstage in Los Angeles. Only my grandfather, the set photographer, was allowed into the studio.” The famous photograph of Marilyn Monroe, standing with her dress billowing up around here, was actually taken on the closed set. Shaw did not capture the moment on a busy New York City street. 

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