* Prices may differ from that shown
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was released in 1954 and is a musical film directed by Stanley Donen. The music was completed by Saul Chaplin and Gene de Paul and lyrics were done by Johnny Mercer (an American lyricist popular in this period).
The plot follows an all male family of uncivilised young men as they embark on an unusual and highly illegal I might add, occasion to find themselves wives and start families out in the country far away from town. For what it lacks in storyline, it greatly makes up for in mesmerising dance sequences and musical numbers. Michael Kidd was the choreographer who has also worked on such titles like Guys and Dolls and less successful creations like the Breakfast at Tiffany's musical which was considered a flop. Kidd is successful in developing mundane activities like barn raising and even just chopping up some wood, into fast-paced exciting performances excellently executed by the members of the acting crew. If anything, it is the dancing within this film musical that makes me love it so much, and made my Mum feel compelled to later go and watch the West End version (which she loves immensely and talks about even to this day, citing its amazing dance choreography again).
The brothers are unusually named slowly progressing through the alphabet from A-G with Adam, Benjamin, Caleb, Daniel, Ephraim, Frank, and Gideon. Frank is perhaps most unfortunately named as because the pattern of naming the sons with Bible names from the Old Testament his actual name is Frankincense because the Old Testament has no names beginning with F - something his brothers make fun of him for. Weirdly enough, especially when I was young, the names of the characters intrigued me and made me love the film even more, especially because I shared a name with one of the unusually named characters! The acting performances from all 14 of the main characters (that is 7 men and 7 women) is decent enough, not a resounding success but definitely worth a watch. In particular Howard Keel and Jane Powell who play the most mature of the couples and show a shaky dynamic in their marriage which is both endearing and entertaining at times. Other than this, the acting is definitely not something to be too concerned with, because as a musical it is much more reliant on the musical numbers, and is all the better for it.
The song within the film are as follows:
* Main Title (Bless Your Beautiful Hide / Wonderful, Wonderful Day) - perhaps the song for which the movie has because most famous for, with vocals from Howard Keel that are resonating and excellently performed, combined with the MGM Studio Orchestra it is powerful and a great tune.
* Wonderful, Wonderful Day - is sung by Jane Powell at the time in which the character Millie is rushing off to get married. It is very typical of its time with a charming, bright performance that adds a feminine touch to a very male-dominated part of the film at this point. Her vocal talents are utilised excellently here.
* When You're in Love - a duet between Jane Powell and Howard Keel that is beautiful and a true gem of the film.
* Goin' Courtin' - Jane Powell & Brothers (Jeff Richards, Matt Mattox, Tommy Rall & Russ Tamblyn) where Powell's character gives instructions to the naive brothers on how to behave as respectable gentlemen.
* Social Dance - performed by the MGM Studio Orchestra.
* Barn-Raising Dance - again performed by the MGM Studio Orchestra and accompanies a fantastic dance number, perhaps the most thrilling and entertaining one of the entire film, that truly shows off the exuberant talent within the movie to a tee.
* Lonesome Polecat - sung by the Brothers (Matt Mattox, Bill Lee, Jeff Richards, Tommy Rall & Russ Tamblyn) in a melancholy tone as they regret having lost their potential partners and complete a dance routine with dangerous sharp weapons and swing axes about in time with one another rhythmically. But despite this, the singing is faultless and has me humming along with it.
* Sobbin' Women - Howard Keel & Brothers (Tommy Rall, Jeff Richards, Matt Mattox & Russ Tamblyn)
* June Bride - The Brides (Ruta Lee, Julie Newmar, Norma Doggett & Nancy Kilgas) sing in excitement at getting married in a similar manner to Millie but with a much more developed dance routine whilst still looking pretty and feminine in corsets. Just goes to show the real effort these actors put in and their level of athleticism (I can't imagine dancing like this, let alone in a corset!)
* Spring, Spring, Spring - Brothers & Brides (Julie Newmar, Jeff Richards, Ruta Lee & Tommy Rall) perform a cheery ending where all of the couples are happily reunited and look genuinely happy and in love. The lyrics are excellent and each actor contributes a huge amount, not one person fails to perform.
To perform the quick-paced thrilling dance scenes Michael Kidd cast four professional dancers, a gymnast and even a baseball player as the six additional brothers of Howard Keel. This is one example of how truly dedicated the cast where in creating a perfect movie with no limits. Similarly all seven of the brides were professionally trained but were all dancers, as shown in their great individual performances.
This is a truly great musical that lives on with equal amounts of success and following as it did even back then. I, perhaps a little biased as my Mum loves it too, have always had a soft spot for this film and think that there is nothing at all to fault. Despite how well executed everything is, and acting and dancing performances throughout which are outstanding, the film never really got a 'classic' reputation, something I greatly disagree with and so urge you to watch this film, at least to give it a chance if you aren't necessarily a theatre geek (I'm not and I still love it) and soon you'll understand why I think so highly of it.
If you're up for a film with an okay plot, some good singing and some mesmerising dance sequences, then the rip roaring Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is certainly worth a watch. It's classic Sunday afternoon viewing really, and as long as you can put up with the booming overacting of Howard Keel for a bit.
Keel plays Adam, a woodcutter who lives on a farm who one day pays a visit to the nearby town in search of a bride. Accustomed to getting his way, Adam manages to find and indeed marry Millie (after a convincing song that no doubt fooled her into agreeing and going through the ceremony). However, the wool has been pulled over her eyes and the farm she thought would be just for her and Adam is in fact home to his six other brothers as well. Named alphabetically after names in the Bible (including Frank, short for Frankincense), the brothers have no airs and graces at all, and Millie finds that she has to try and whip them into shape.
What they really want though is wives for themselves, and Millie sets about showing them how it's done, much to Adam's disapproval. What follows is a rather entertaining battle of social airs and graces as the farm brothers try to impress the town women at the same time as beating the town men to the prizes. The dance sequences involving so many individual performances are as cleverly choreographed as the sequences where they're all in groups, the ladies switching between dancing with the brothers and then the town men. Excellent dance routines.
The songs themselves are okay, quite forgettable in a way but certainly fitting for the film and the era the film was made in. Keel is on top form with his deep, booming voice, while he is ably supported byh all around him. There's care taken to give him and his burning red locks the lion's share of the screentime without focusing too much on him and not enough on the rest of them. It's very well written in this respect.
The only criticism I would have is that, entertaining though it is, it doesn't really do anything for me. I can't say it puts the film above any other musical film from the past however many decades, but nor does it dip below standard when compared with similar ones such as Keel's run in Calamity Jane. Music can add to a decent plot to give an above average film and this is certainly what happens here, but ultimately it doesn't do anything special for me.
As a result, I'm confused as to why this makes an appearance on Empire's top 500 films of all time list, which I am working my way through. It's good, but making this prestigious list was a surprise if I am honest. Good film, great dancing and some good singing for sure, but nothing special by any means. Just right for a Sunday afternoon.
Seven Brides for Seven brothers is a whirl of colour, singing and dancing, which will not disappoint any fan of classsic musicals. The fantastic Howard Keel plays Adam, the eldest of 7 brothers who live as rural Woodsmen. He goes to town and comes back with a wife, Milly, who is surprised to find her marital home contains 6 more men than she bargained for! Milly whips the men into shape and takes them into town to go courtin'. Enjoy the barn raising scene, with some great dancing! The love sick brothers, led by Adam, devise a dramatic plan to win the girls hearts, which, in true cinematic style does not run smoothly. It's a classic 50's musical, with some fantastic musical numbers, especially by Howard Keel. Enjoy the brother's dancing throughout the film as well. Seven Brides is a really feel good film which will lift your spirits, warm your heart and bring a smile to your face.
As hubby is trying to educate me in the old classic films this is the next one which I was treated (or subjected) to! I don't think I would have bought it had I know it was Howard Keel playing the main role as I did not like his singing in Calamity Jane, but I have to say that they were better in this film!
The film is about Alan who is living on a farm in the middle of nowhere with his 6 other brothers. He is the oldest and decides that when he goes to town next to get their supplies he is going to get himself a wife. Being true to his word when he goes on the long trek to town he does find himself a wife, Millie who is the cook at the pub. Millie falls in love with Alan and agrees to marry him and they do so straight away and she sets off with him to the farm.
On the journey back Millie talks to Alan about her plans for the farm and how she would like to have children and cannot wait to look after him but as they arrive at the farm she is in for such a big shock! Alan forgot to tell Millie about his 6 brothers and she is shocked when she is introduced to them all and she thinks Alan deceived her and that he should have told her when she was making plans for them.
Millie sets to work and tries to sort out the brothers behaviour and teach them some manners as they are all now keen on going to town and getting themselves a wife. Will Millie be able to teach these 7 men manners and will she be successful in teaching them the art of courting and wooing the ladies?
This is not the sort of film I would usually choose to watch but as hubby really wanted me to see it I did sit and watch the whole thing. I have to say that I was quite surprised by it. I was instantly put off by Howard Keel taking the role of Alan as I thought his singing in a previous film was shocking but I will admit that he had improved by this film and he did a decent job. There were quite a few songs in the film and I did enjoy all of them and though that all of the actors and actress did a great job with their vocals and they did add some humour and emotion to the story. I found the songs to be suitable for the film and the parts which they were used in but for me none of them were memorable and I have not heard much of them away from the film. When I watched Calamity Jane I did know the songs as they are played on the radio a lot but these songs just did not have the same appeal as others from musicals from the same era.
The storyline was good and fun but I didn't find it very believable. I can forgive this as the way it was put across made for good viewing. I did like how the brothers all had names which had the first letter running in alphabetical order. I think we should have done this with my 3 as hubby is always calling them the wrong name! I did feel sorry for Frank as he hated his real name of Frankincense! The chemistry between the brothers was good and I loved how they would be fighting against each other one minute but as soon as someone upset one of them then they all stuck together and battled as a team.
The role of Lillie was taken by Jane Powell and I think she did such a great job especially being surrounded by all those men, she managed to pout across a strong and determined side yet she was also able to show a caring and loving side which I found to be nice. She seemed to be a bit stronger in her character when the other girls arrived at the farm and I much preferred her taking the role of the mother.
The film was set way back in the 1890's in America and I think that the settings and scenery for the film were all very suitable but the one problem with this film was the backdrops. They were truly awful and at one point when the brothers were giving us a song in the snow the backdrop was so clearly painted and hung behind them, it did actually make me laugh. Also the shots when they were travelling on the horse and cart through the mountains was bad and noticeably added at a later date. These bad effects can be forgiven though as the film was made in 1954 when they did not have all the technology which is widely available now.
The DVD which we have does have some bonus material which includes:-
Making of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
I have not had the need for the scene access and have no interest in watching the making of the film.
The running time of this film is 98 minutes which was a suitable length and the certificate is a Universal which means that it is suitable for all ages. I do agree with this rating.
This DVD is available widely for under £5 which I think is a good buy. I am going to recommend this film as it does have a good story and good acting but there are a lot better musicals from the same era to be seen.
~~ Seven Brides for Seven Brothers ~~
This has to be one of my favourite musicals and is most definitely one of the classics of the 1950s. I love the Baritone voice of Howard Keel and the innocent charm of Jane Powell who also happens to have a wonderful voice.
The film was based on a short story by Stephen Vincent Benet called The Sobbin Women and was adapted by the husband and wife team Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich alongside Dorothy Kingsley. At first the film was going to be called Sobbin Women, but MGM hated this so the title A Bride for Seven Brothers was put forward, it was felt that this title was a little bit suggestive and so they came up with the title Seven Brides for Seven Brothers were chosen.
The producer Jack Cummings got Stanley Donan to direct the movie, Stanley previous hits with Singin in the Rain and On The Town both successful movies. Cummings really wanted to do the movie completely on location, but MGM had other ideas, they only thought of the film as a B movie, they were not impressed by the initial story, so they halved the budget which meant that they would have to film the whole movie in the studio.
~~ The Movie ~~
Our movie starts with Adam Pontipee the eldest of the seven brothers riding into town to pick up supplies and this includes a wife that will be able to look after him and his brothers. Whilst looking through the town and singing our first song of the show the he spots Millie, who is chopping wood and cooking for the towns men in the local Inn where she works and after sampling her cooking he asks her to marry him. Millie being quite taken by him and not being aware of his family waiting for her at home accepts his proposal.
So Adam has got what he came to town for including a wife, they make their way back through the pass Millie happily dreaming and singing about what is ahead of her, little does she know!
The story goes on and we meet all the brothers and watch them grow under Millies guidance. You cant help feel for Millie and the challenges she has ahead of her, but remember this was filmed in the era where men respected women and women allowed them to, where men had their roles and women had theirs. Millie teaches the brothers how to treat a lady and how to dance, ready for when they go to the local Barn Building Competition. The barn building competition is where we get to see some spectacular dance sequences and where the brothers discover the meaning of love at first sight, all six of them.
How does it all work out? Do they settle down happy ever after? You will have to watch the film to find out.
~~ The Cast ~~
Millie: is played by Jane Powell who is very petite, with a powerful voice, she plays a woman of amazing character and strength.
Adam Pontippe: Howard Keel plays the arrogant eldest brother who marries Millie, his 6ft 4in frame towers above Millies dainty 5ft, making him appear big and strong and making Millie appear small and feminine.
~~ The Brothers ~~
Benjamin: Jeff Richards, you will notice through the film that apart from Howard Keel he was the only one of the brothers that did not dance.
Caleb: Matt Mattox he did some stunning gymnastics in the barn scene.
Daniel: Mark Platt had a ballet training background.
Ephraim: Jacques DAmboise again came from a ballet trained background.
Frank: Tommy Rall, like some of the others he had a ballet trained background, he also had an accident during the filming of the barn dance when he lost his footing and his leg slipped between two planks, skinning his shin.
Gideon: No other than a young Russ Tamblyn who was a wonderful dancer and gymnast very well known in classic musicals, one of them being West Side Story.
~~ The Brides ~~
Dorcas: Julie Newmar
Ruth: Ruta Lee, she like Tommy had an accident during rehearsals on the barn dance, not wearing the correct non slip shoes she slipped and fell, knocking herself unconscious.
Martha: Norma Doggett
Liza: Virginia Gibson
Sarah: Betty Carr
Alice: Nancy Kilgas
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer and Music by Gene de Paul
Chorographer: Michael Kidd.
~~ Songs ~~
Bless Yore Beautiful Hide: Adam Pontipee telling us about the kind of bride he is looking for.
Wonderful, Wonderful Day: Millie speculating on her future on the journey to her new life as Adams wife.
When Youre In Love: Millie sings on their wedding night.
Goin Cotin: A fun song where Millie teaches the boys a little social etiquette
Barn Dance: Spectacular and should not be missed, some brilliant dance sequences which also depict the competition between the brothers and the lads from town.
When Youre In Love (Reprise): Adam sings this part to his youngest brother Gideon.
Lonesome Polecat: Sung by the love sick brothers, it has a nice easy rhythm to it, with nice slow enhanced dance movements that match the tempo and mood of the song.
Sobbin Women: Adam Pontipee gets the brothers all hyped up about those Sobbin Women.
June Bride: Our six prospective brides are letting there imaginations runaway with them or are they?
Spring, Spring, Spring: Everyone is included in this song as we celebrate the coming of Spring and the flowers and sunshine.
~~ DVD Extras ~~
Scene Selection: Where you can skip to the scene you want, with a choice of 38 with little pictures of the scene to help you find your way.
Languages: there are 3 sound tracks and a choice of 12 subtitles in various languages.
~~ Special Features ~~
This is a documentary of the making of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers with speakers including Howard Keel, Stanley Donen, Saul Chaplin, Michael Kidd, Russ Tamblyn, Tommy Ball, Jane Powell, Julie Newmar, Virginia Gibson and Ruta Lee.
This is very informative and full of trivia that goes with the movie; it lasts for approx 30 minutes.
Theatrical Trailer: this runs for approx 3 minutes and shows highlights from the show.
~~ Trivia ~~
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was one of MGMs first ventures into Cinemascope. Not all cinemas had the equipment to run to the new wide-screen format, so this meant that everything had to be shot twice, once with a Cinemascope lens and once without it.
Although MGM had made this movie as a B grade, they were surprised at the response to the previews it received. Due to the very positive reports MGM altered their sales strategy and pushed it to open at New Yorks Radio City Music Hall on 22nd July 1954 instead of their big budget movie of that year Brigadoon.
On the documentary with the movie you see a clip of President Eisenhower urging the country to go and see the film.
It received five Oscar nominations, winning one for Best Music.
They used to release real birds to fly across the screen to make the painted backgrounds look authentic. The poor birds got all confused and would often fly into the screen itself.
~~ My Thoughts ~~
I really do recommend this film to all musical lovers; it has to be a must. It is easy going and does not tax your brain to think and follow any complicated plot. You can simply sit down, relax and enjoy, with your feet tapping to the music, or even joining in with the lovely well known songs.
If you havent guessed by now, yes I did really enjoy the film, thank you so much for taking the time to read this review.
Musicals are my favourite type of films, and have quite a few on DVD. One of my favourites (not THE favourite though!), is 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers'. It was originally going to be called 'Sobbin Women', but changed the name. Good job really!
Adam Pontipee (Howard Keel) is the eldest of 7 brothers. He wants a wife, and sets out on a journey to get one. In the village he goes into the store to get supplies and says he is looking for a wife. He is told in no uncertain terms that he won't find one in this town! He goes in the village looking for a wife. As he sings the first song 'Bless your beautiful hide', you see him looking at what he hopes to be his future wife. She's chopping wood across the road from where he's standing.
Her name is Millie (Jane Powell). They quickly arrange their wedding. The Reverend and people close to her try to discourage her from marrying him. They did want her to marry someone better than Adam. But Millie has made her mind up and is determined to marry Adam. So the marriage went ahead.
Little did Millie know at the time that Adam has 6 brothers all living at home with him. He had conveniently forgotten to mention this little matter! That is, until she arrives at his place of residence! He (Adam) hadn't the guts to tell her of his 6 siblings on the way home. She thinks she has just one man to care for.
And so her new life begins with 7 unruely men to care for. She's very upset and angry with Adam to begin with. Their unshaven, unwashed bodies leaves a lot to be desired! It's no wonder they're all single! She's angry with Adam for not informing her of his live-in family. She thinks the only rreason he married her was because he wanted a cook and washer.
The funniest part is when she wants to wash the mens clothing. They're all in their bedroom, and she's on the other side of the door. She's already washed their outer clothes, and now want to wash their inner clothing. They're in their room and can smell hot coffee. They're so excited at getting a proper breakfast. But she threatens to deny them everything if they don't give her their inner clothing to be washed. So off the clothes came and were then able to fill their bellies. They're also all been ordered to shave off their beards.
She's gotten them all washed, pruned and shaven. Now they need teaching in how to woo a woman. Millie is enrolled as teacher. As she sings "Going Courtin'", the boys sing and dance. The choreography is this and other routines is fantastic!
She's got all their hair, hands and nails cleaned, they're all wearing new shirts and now the barn raising dance beckons! This particular dance routine is the highlight of the film for me. It really is very good and enjoyable to watch.
As the winter is approaching, they (the Pontipee boys) decide to 'kidnap' 6 girls they've already met. They're certain they'll marry them. But, as the snow is falling, the girls are trapped in the family home until Spring arrives. They're all utterly upset in the beginning - as is Millie. But, in the Spring when the families of these women go to collect them, the women don't want to leave!
There are one or two other little storylines in this film which can't be missed. I shan't go into too much detail with the film. But, it is a fantastic film to watch. It is one of those films that really is a classic.
THE SONGS AND CHOREOGRAPHY
For me, the best part of the film is the singing and choreography. There is a lot of thigh slapping and knee jerking songs, along with wicked dance routines and all round good fun! There are 9 songs in this film. They are (in order as they are in the film):-
~ Bless Yore (that's how it's spelt on the DVD!) Beautiful Hide
~ Wonderful Wonderful Day
~ When You're In Love
~ Goin' Co'tin'
~ When You're In Love
~ Lonesome Polecat
~ Sobbin' Women
~ June Bride
~ Spring, Spring, Spring
Director: Stanley Donen
Producer: Jack Cummings
Choreographer: Michael Kidd
Running time: 98 minutes
There are quite a few special features on this DVD including:
~ Interactive Menus
~ Scene Access
~ "Making of Seven Brides"
Languages in Dolby Digital 5.1: English, in Mono: French/Italian. Subtitles in English, French, Italian, Dutch, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Romanian, Bulgarian/ English for the hard of hearing/Italian for the hearing impaired.
WHAT I THINK
I think this is a fantastic film. At 98 minutes long, it's not too long. And within that hour and a half or so, there is enough storylines to keep you watching. Howard Keel, Jane Powell and the 6 brothers all play a good roll. The songs are really good, the acting and story is really good. It's just an all round fun film which will lift your spirit!
This review can also be found on Ciao under my username LOUISE90.
Imagine, if you will, seven strapping, handsome, young men - all brothers - living high up in the mountains of Oregon with not even one woman on site since their mother died many years before. Imagine also, if you will, what that home would look like? Can you also imagine how their manners would be? And I bet you can imagine that they're getting pretty... um... lonely, as well. This is the basis of the film "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" - an amazing film which has celebrated its 50th birthday!
Based on the ancient story of the Rape of the Sabine Women (where a group of men capture a bunch of women but when their families come to reclaim them, the women refuse to return home). This parallel isn't even slightly veiled for this movie, except that they never mention the words "The Rape of the... ". Stephen Vincent Benet's short story "The Sobbin' Women" was inspired by that legend, and became the basis for the musical, and that was actually the original title for this movie! Fortunately, only the song that retells this legend (of course named "The Sobbin' Women") remains of this painful pun.
So what have we got here? A basically simple story, actually. The eldest brother of the Pontipee family - Adam (played by the late, great Howard Keel) - leaves his mountain to find a wife in town, much like he'd go out to find a new horse or cow! The gall of the man. However, while he's singing "Bless Your Beautiful Hide", he comes upon no-nonsense, robust, able and pretty Milly (played by Jane Powell). After finding out that her cooking tastes as good as her looks, and the food is as satisfyingly hearty as her attitude, he proposes marriage. By the end of the day, she's on her way to her new husband's home. But when she gets there she finds out that her dream love-nest for two, has been infested with an additional six-pack of unruly, sloppy and rude beasts, otherwise known as Adam's brothers.
Of course, as the film progresses, Milly finds herself as anxious to bring other females to the homestead (for both companionship and household help) as much as the brothers are anxious to find wives, just as easily as their brother did. Once the boys have met girls they're interested in, the Sabine Women story kicks in, and its all downhill from there - or is it?
Director Stanley Donen (Singin' in the Rain, Royal Wedding, Pajama Game, Damn Yankees!, and - believe it or not, one of his last achievements was the TV series "Moonlighting" which brought Bruce Willis to the screen with his first credited role!) was no stranger to good schmaltzy romance stories with dance and music. And while this film has its share of this, its hardly one that you'll want to pooh-pooh for being overly sentimental. He achieved this by making the dance numbers as manly as possible. And with talents such as the acrobat and gymnast, Russ Tamblyn, the School of American Ballet trained Jacques d'Amboise and the often featured dancer Matt Mattox, there was no way that these dance numbers could ever be labeled as boring or girly. For instance, how could you call the number "Lonesome Polecat" boring or girly when these men dance with such unique props as saws and axes!
Of course, most of the credit for these dance numbers must go to the amazing work done by the well known choreographer, Michael Kidd (Guys & Dolls, L'il Abner, Hello Dolly!) who knew just how to execute a dance number that was athletic, exciting and different. There are no Fred & Ginger numbers in this movie, and I'm sure that the male readers of this op will appreciate this, and perhaps it will wet their interest in this film.
And what is a musical if we can't discuss the music? Donen brought together a stellar group to write the songs for this musical. With Sol Chaplin (who won an Oscar for his arrangements on this film - back when that meant something) and Gene DePaul (stage score for L'il Abner and who made his comeback in 1990 with the song "You Don't Know What Love Is" which was later used for film The Talented Mr. Ripley), you can hardly expect that the melodies here will be clichéd. And yet, if the lyrics hadn't been written by the unequalled Johnny Mercer (who wrote the words to "Moon River" from the film Breakfast at Tiffany's, no less as well as having penned the unofficial silver screen theme-song "Hooray For Hollywood"), this could have been a truly sappy or even saccharine film. But these varied talents combined beautifully to make a score with songs that are fresh, lively, innovative, and ultimately memorable.
But all this still could have failed had it not been for the amazing baritone of Kiel and sweet soprano of Powell. Donen has also done a wonderful job in directing both them and all the other actors/dancers/singers to make up a cohesive cast that almost work as a single body, making the viewers find these characters as believable as any can be, in a musical. Not a simple accomplishment, I assure you. "Yeah, right!", I hear you say "as if someone is really going to burst out into song at this particular moment". Well, the truth is that there is almost no 'let's stuff a song in here' feeling with this film. In fact, the songs seem to practically be necessary to the plot and action, rather than superfluous. Really!
One would expect from a film about the extremely scenic state of Oregon, to have some truly beautiful panoramic footage. To tell you the truth, however, almost all of this film was done in a studio. And still, with the special effects and lighting used in this film, it is almost hard to believe that this really was the case. In fact, there are very few scenes here which one can look at and identify them as being made on a sound-stage. For instance, we are sure that the "Lonesome Polecat" song I mentioned above is doubtless a studio set. The same can be said for the barn raising scene and dance/fight number between the younger brothers and six local young men who are vying for the attention of the same six young women. However, with these two obvious exceptions, most of the scenery and settings seem totally realistic - including the footage of the avalanche which makes the six girls prisoners in the hills until the spring thaw. I'm telling you, that avalanche looks very real - even for today, and this film was made in 1954!
Now I hope you agree with me that this sounds like a truly fun film. And it must have been a whole lot of fun making it. When you watch this movie, you'll get the feeling that not only were these people extremely talented, perfectly directed, amazingly choreographed, flawlessly cast, and in wonderful voice, but they also seem like they had a fantastic time making this movie. That joy is totally infectious to the viewers. And that same joy must have been the reason why the original stage musical was made into such a lovely film. Unfortunately, it was also that same joy that spurred the unfortunate US TV series (with Patrick Dean Anderson of "MacGyver" fame as Adam and introducing River Phoenix in his first acting part, as the youngest brother!). Oh, well, two out of three ain't bad, right? Right!
The bottom line - I dare you to watch this film without finding yourself grinning throughout. But don't take my word for it, if what I've said here isn't enough to convince you to take a look at this movie, then may I be forever be forbidden to write ops in this category again, because there's just no Sobbin' at this movie!
Thanks for reading!
This is a review of the film only. However, I do actually own this on video and there are absolutely no extras on that version. If I ever do get this on DVD, I'll let you know about if it has any extras.
For those interested, I found (at the time of writing this review) that the DVD of this is available at Amazon.co.uk for the ridiculously low price of £7.99! whereas the soundtrack of the same movie is a whole £11.99. This film was released on DVD by Warner Home Video, on 9 April, 2001. Run Time: 98 minutes. This is available in Region 2 encoding (Europe, Middle East & Japan only), PAL format, as well as from Amazon.com for $14.99 in Region 1 (US and Canada only), VHS format. Both versions use Widescreen letterbox format
I have this on video, and didn't know about its availability on DVD until I started writing this op. I found out that the DVD has had some work done on it. For instance, I have always forgiven this movie its fake looking colours, since this was filmed using the Ansco colour process that was less than successful. However, if you decide to buy the DVD of this film, I've heard that this has been fixed. You'll be surprised to know that this wasn't digitally mastered for the wide-screen televisions, since this was one of the earlier Cinemascope films. That technique was so new at the time that many theaters didn't have the capacity to show it properly on their regular screens! And yet, new as that technology was, Donen knew how to take full advantage of its properties and was able to make many of the scenes look breathtaking with it. Furthermore, apparently the original soundtrack was recorded by the MGM Studio Orchestra in stereo, and I heard that the DVD has restored this to its fullest glory. Knowing this, and hearing that there's a "making of" extra on the region 2 DVD, I'm sorry I ever bought this on video. I guess I'll just have to buy the DVD as well.
For some trivia about this film, I found this nice web site: http://jacketmagazine.com/11/seven-brides-info.html which has links to other pages as well.
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, starring MGM soprano Jane Powell and handsome baritone Howard Keel, has retained a remarkably loyal following among fans of the musical film ever since its release in 1954. Although it was filmed in state-of-the-art CinemaScope, Stanley Donen was obliged to direct much of the film on Metro's sound stages, where the artificial sets and painted backdrops don't inevitably live up to the scenes shot on location in Oregon. Viewers coming fresh to the picture may find this visual discrepancy jarring and some too may find Miss Powell's singing a shade plummy. The screenplay, by husband and wife team Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich with Dorothy Kingsley, tells the story of seven brothers living in the Oregon hills and their adventures to find themselves wives. The casting of each brother with his rugged, masculine looks and ability to dance with grace and athleticism, presided over by an authoritative Howard Keel, gives the film a dynamic impetus second to none in an MGM musical. The lengthy barn-raising episode under choreographer Michael Kidd's intrepid direction, where the music and the incredibly agile and energetic male and female dance ensemble unite as one, produces a square dance without parallel. The music and lyrics by Gene De Paul and Johnny Mercer--including the mating chorus, "Spring, Spring, Spring", the rollicking "Bless You're Beautiful Hide", the rousing "Sobbin' Women" and the visually enchanting "June Bride"--are both tuneful and mindful of the plot's exposition. Adolph Deutsch and Saul Chaplin won the Academy Award in 1954 for their arrangements and conducting. On the DVD: The digital remastering has created a clearer picture of what had been a faintly muddy Ansco colour system on the original print while the polish and attack with which the MGM Studio Orchestra play the music on this full-bodied stereophonic soundtrack remains a thing of wonder. Howard Keel, standing tall and erect in his 80s, hosts the "making of" documentary. Director Donen, choreographer Kidd, Jane Powell and several of the dancers recall how the film was considered a "sleeper" during production and wasn't expected to do as well as Brigadoon, in production at the same time. The documentary also highlights the care taken over the casting of the brothers, two of whom including Keel were not dancers and their often brave and brilliant feats of acrobatic dancing executed on precarious planks and other props. When Howard Keel takes his farewell walk down the main street lot at MGM, breaking into a few brief dance steps, it's impossible not to feel a moment of regret that the curtain had to come down on MGM's most treasured possession. --Adrian Edwards