How can "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" be such a wonderful musical? While the songs are lovely, they are mostly forgettable. The characters of the six brides and five of the brothers are almost hopelessly underwritten. Credit director Stanley Donen, choreographer Michael Kidd, cinematographer George Folsey, and a perfect cast led by Howard Keel and Jane Powell for creating one of the all time great musicals and an unforgettable motion picture experience even 50 years after its release. "Brides" has never been surpassed for ensemble performance, and that includes "West Side Story". This is largely due to Michael Kidd's choreography and the Donen/Folsey scene composition. Kidd exploited the best elements of each character's dance style (one brother is a ballet star; another, an acrobat) and created the most bravura ballroom/freestyle dance number in motion picture history, the barn dance sequence which formally introduces the "brides" to the "brothers". Kidd's work would have been in vain, however, had not Donen and Folsey so skillfully composed the scene. "Brides" is the best example of scene composition of any wide screen musical I've ever seen; every frame is filled with something visually interesting. Donen frequently, but subtly uses Jane Powell's tiny stature for comic effect by surrounding her with the tall brothers in submissive poses. Powell is clearly always in control, but her size and generally cheery temperament prevent her from ever seeming a bully. Donen also carefully chose to dress the brothers in bright, distinctly colored shirts, which enables the audience to clearly distinguish the characters during key scenes.The movie also has a subtle feminist slant. Powell is clearly younger than her husband, Howard Keel, but she is also clearly a more mature and dominant character. For the time, "Brides" was also daring in its depiction of "good" women looking forward to enjoying sex. Prior to one song/dance number, bride Julie Newmarr poses on a bed in a position clearly representing "missionary position" sex, legs up and astride an imaginary lover's back.Though the brides don't get as much screen time or individuality as the brothers, each looks as if she would be a great partner. Both the brides and the brothers get a satisfactory showcasing as couples in the last song, "Spring, Spring, Spring".I'll leave others to explain the plot. I would like to mention that Donen had an uphill battle with the studio while making "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers". The studio had so little faith, they continually cut "Brides" budget to put more money into the lumbering "Brigadoon." Sets and even cast members were loaned out to other movies. Brothers Russ Tamblyn an Jeff Richards, as well as part of the set can be seen in "Many Rivers to Cross." Instead of Technicolor, the studio used Ansco color. Thus, "Brides" looks about as good as "Wizard of Oz," but no where near as good as "Harvey Girls" or "Meet Me in St. Louis." That's quite an achievement being the best photographed, best choreographed and best ensemble acted musical of the last 50 years. I think it's also the most entertaining. I give "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" a "10."
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Comedy Drama Musical Romance Western
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Adam, the eldest of seven brothers, goes to town to get a wife. He convinces Milly to marry him that same day. They return to his backwoods home. Only then does she discover he has six brothers - all living in his cabin. Milly sets out to reform the uncouth siblings, who are anxious to get wives of their own. Then, after reading about the Roman capture of the Sabine women, Adam develops an inspired solution to his brothers' loneliness.
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June 13, 2018 at 4:32 pm