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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Movie Musical Challenge: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
In Movie Musical Challenge, I'm watching all 25 picks for AFI's Greatest musicals starting from the bottom.  Number 21 is the 1954 film Seven Brides for Seven Brothers starring Jane Powell and Howard Keel.  And lots of very good looking brothers!

Um, this musical is utterly charming.  I love that it has a western setting (its set in 1850s Oregon), the music is very catchy, and the dancing!  There's a particular sequence at a barn party where the brothers are trying to get the attention of the ladies (by the way there's not enough women to go around) so they keep trying to steal them away from the town suitors.  The dancing is wonderfully boisterous and athletic (although so not what you would see at the time!) and that whole sequence kind of gave me chills, it was so well done and so exuberant!

The film does have some questionable aspects to the narrative - some sexism and a really weird-for-me kidnapping scene, which plays out sort of like a romp for the brothers, but it is absolutely not okay.  Thankfully Jane Powell's character puts the brothers in their place and makes everything right.  But it is very strange.  It's important though that in the beginning we get a strong sense of the brothers being good guys!

My favorite song from this musical is "Lonesome Polecat", which is a melancholy, harmonic song for the six brothers, who lament their single status.  It's so pretty to listen to, and again, helps a little to lessen how uncomfortable the kidnapping scene was to watch.  Visually, this song is sung while the boys are chopping wood, so it's really interesting to see how they integrate those actions with the beats of the song.  The choreography throughout this film is excellent - normal tasks and actions are given life when they are made a part of the rhythm of the songs.

This is another musical that I really enjoyed - it's light-hearted and bright, if you forget a bit about the way women are treated sometimes.  I love that Jane Powell's character though was strong enough to take them all on, and make the brothers less rough and uncouth.

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