Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Seven Brides for Seven Brothers</strong> (1954)

(On Cable TV, December 2018) OK, so here’s a fun question as we contemplate whether movies from another era are so horrible by our standards: Can we still enjoy them? Accepting that some movies would never, ever be exactly as they were if they were remade today, is it OK if we still find some fun in those older movies? What if they tickle some find of traditional reactionary lizard-brain sensibility? Because let’s be blunt: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers makes cute out of a horrible situation, with brothers kidnapping women intending to make them their brides, and carrying them back in the woods while their friends and family are prevented from rescuing them by a snow-blocked mountain pass. In any realistic scenario, you’d feel the impotent rage and extended fear of those family members at the village, unable to launch a rescue for months and imagining the worst scenarios for the kidnapped girls. Fortunately, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is a musical comedy (and one that name-checks the Sabine women): nothing ever remotely bad happens to the girls, and they spend the winter months falling in love with their kidnappers (no Stockholm syndrome here, we’re assured). In between the foregone conclusion and the beginning of the story, we do get pretty good set-pieces. Stronger in dance than in songs, the film features a unique blend of lumberjack ballet, with the barn-raising sequence being a dance/comedy set-piece that, by itself, justifies the film’s longevity even in its now-dodgy cuteness. (The mournful single-take dancing/woodchopping routine of “Lonesome Polecat” is also quite impressive in a different register.) Howard Keel is a lot of fun as the lead (what a beard!), with plenty of great supporting performance for a main cast that starts with fourteen people). I also suspect that the film’s longevity can also be attributed to a certain originality: How many other lumberjack musicals do you recall? This, combined with the film’s unfailing cheer, still makes Seven Brides for Seven Brothers a lot of fun to watch. You may even rewind to re-experience the barn-raising sequence all over again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *