Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)

seven brides for seven brothers poster 1954 movie musical
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Great dance sequence

Story doesn't age well, underdeveloped characters, soundstage sets

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Studio:  MGM

Genre(s):  Musical/Romance

Release Date(s):  July 22, 1954

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

seven brides for seven brothers howard keel jane powell

This is the best day ever…nothing can ruin how I feel!

Adam Pontipee (Howard Keel) is set on taking a wife and he finds the perfect one in Milly (Jane Powell).  What Milly doesn’t realize is that Adam wants someone who will not only take care of him but his six brothers Benjamin (Jeff Richards), Caleb (Matt Mattox), Daniel (Marc Platt), Ephraim (Jacques d’Amboise), Frankincense aka Frank (Tommy Rall), and Gideon (Russ Tamblyn)…something Milly doesn’t intend to do.  Milly must get the boys to go to town to find brides, but when Adam suggests an absurd means to get the women, the “capture” of the brides might cause more problems than Milly ever planned.

Directed by Stanley Donen, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is a musical romance based on Stephen Vincent Benét’s 1937 short story “The Sobbin’ Women” which was published in Thirteen O’Clock:  Stories of Several Worlds and used the story of legend of the Rape of the Sabine Women as its basis.  The movie is frequently listed among “Best Musicals” and won an Academy Award for Best Score with nominations for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography (Color), and Best Film Editing.  It was added to the National Film Registry for preservation by the Library of Congress in 2004.

All I knew about Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is the barn dance sequence which frequently is played.  I didn’t know any songs or the story.  Having watched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, I can’t say it is one of my favorite musicals…and the movie hasn’t aged well socially.

seven brides for seven brothers cast barn dance

I’m sure with six brothers and six wives there will be tons of character development…

The Rape of the Sabine Women tells how Romans would essentially carry off women as spoils of war.  Here, that story is played for laughs when the brothers realize there is no chance of marrying their intended women because of the town folks who refuse to allow them and they decide to forcibly kidnap them from their homes.  The women object at first but come around when trapped for the winter and the men start acting nicer…which is pretty absurd and that you get six women suffering from Stockholm Syndrome are married off by their fathers to end the film.  It just doesn’t fly well today.

The cast is rather strong.  Howard Keel and his booming voice provide a good lead while Jane Powell is the only woman who stands her ground somewhat in the movie.  The youngest brother is played by Russ Tamblyn who went on West Side Story and Twin Peaks among other things.  One of the “brides” (who are pretty undeveloped) is Julie Newmar (who is credited as Julie Newmeyer).

seven brides for seven brothers kidnapped women

I’m sure once you all realize that Adam is the One God that we’ll all laugh about how you were kidnapped and enslaved

The movie was shot on a soundstage and looks like it (though it is deftly shot).  There are occasional stock footage style shots outside, but a majority of the movie is just sets.  It was shot in a nice widescreen Cinemascope version, but the movie also was shot in a regular ratio format because the filmmakers feared that not enough studios would be able to play Cinemascope.

I recognize that Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is an important movie in that it was a massive success and helped really fine tune the musical format, but I can’t say I loved it very much.  The music and the story aren’t very inspiring and with so many musicals that are more upbeat and fun.  The movie was adapted for the stage in 1978 and had a short lived TV series in the ’80s (which featured a young River Phoenix).

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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