01 July 2006

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (掠奪された七人の花嫁, 1954)

Finally got round to seeing this classic Stanley Donen musical for the first time because of it's title -- I've been watching so many films involving the number seven this month, the kanji 七人 jumped out at me from the shelf of the video store. I do love musicals, but the premise of this one causes so many groans throughout viewing. The songs are catchy, but lyrics like "Bless your beautiful hide" (sung while on the prowl for a wife) would have been simply unbearable if it hadn’t been for Howard Keel’s wonderful, deep singing voice. It is a shame that MGM didn’t do more to promote his talent in the 1950s. Sexism aside, the dance numbers in this film are worth the price of rental alone. The acrobatics of the seven brothers during the barn raising sequences are truly inspired. I was amused by the decision to have all the brothers redheads and wearing brightly-coloured shirts in order to distinguish them from the grey suits of the townsmen. Even young men being dragged along to the cinema by their dates would enjoy the ridiculous amount of fight scenes. These would have been hard to bear if they hadn’t been staged in a comic way.

The only real disappointment was the obvious fakeness of the settings. I have since read that Stanley Donen was also disappointed not to have the budget to film on location. MGM was pouring all its money into 1954’s other big musical, Brigadoon, starring Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse. I guess with the success of Singing in the Rain they decided to place their bets with Kelly’s star power combined with the power of Charisse’s $5 million legs. It’s too bad they didn’t credit give the director of Singing in the Rain as much credit as it’s stars, because Seven Brides is an infinitely more enjoyable picture than boring Brigadoon.