Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers


Here’s something I didn’t know. From wiki: “The script (by Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich, and Dorothy Kingsley) is based on the short story “The Sobbin’ Women”, by Stephen Vincent Benét, which was based in turn on the Ancient Roman legend of The Rape of the Sabine Women.” The word “rape” was a bit different back then, and really referred to what we would call abduction. In the legend, the women soon agreed to marry their abductors, as in the film.

In this movie Howard Keel (Adam) and Jane Powell are married in great haste, and when they get back to his remote cabin in Oregon, she finds he has six brothers, all named from the Bible in alphabetical order: Benjamin, Caleb, Daniel, Ephriam, Frankincense (call me Frank! Or I’ll bust you in the chops!) and Gideon. They all live like hogs. Jane learns ‘em some manners, and they go a-courtin’ in town. They all find girls who like them, but they all have beaus. So they kidnap the six women and bring them back, sealing off the one road in a snow avalanche. The girls get to like the boys, and marry them all in the end.

The film was a 1954 Oscar nominee for Best Picture. And though it was a sort of orphan on the MGM lot, with much more money poured into Brigadoon, it out-earned that one at the box office. And I really can’t see why. The color photography is nice, and the dancing is fantastic, but there really isn’t one memorable song in the whole thing. Today, the best thing about it is a single musical number at a barn raising that is one of the best dances ever put on film. It was choreographed by Michael Kidd, and is just awesome. These guys are dancing on single planks, doing moves that a later generation of young women would do on the balance beam as gymnasts. One of them is the great Russ Tamblyn, who I learned actually was a gymnast, and another is the late, great Tommy Rall. (Oops! Make that just great. He’s still alive.) I once saw Russ Tamblyn on stage in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and the dude can sure dance. He made this movie when his career was hottest, seven years before his most famous part, Riff, in West Side Story.