Seven Brides for Seven Brothers Stanley Donen

It's 1850 in the Oregon Territory. Adam Pontipee (Howard Keel) heads to town in search of a wife. He and his six brothers need someone to cook and clean for them. The winters are long out in the woods. Millie (Jane Powell) agrees to marry him after a brief meeting. She is a strong, sensible girl who understands "a girl's got no right to stay single; we got to settle the country." The Pontipee brothers, although rough and uncouth, are looking for wives of their own, so Millie cleans them up and teaches them the art of courting. When that doesn't work, they resort to kidnapping. Yes, that's right. A musical based on the Rape of the Sabine Women, and sexual politics aside (and songs that mention men sleeping with sheep), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is a fairly innocent, colourful musical. The songs are fun, albeit not that memorable, the choreography is interesting and lively, and the acting is suitably enthusiastic. However, in the pantheon of movie musicals, in particular those from MGM, it's a so-so production. Seven Brides is tame compared to other Donen musicals like Singin' in the Rain or Damn Yankees. It certainly doesn't compare to Two for the Road or Charade, which I might be inclined to call a masterpiece. The story is too simple, the characters too wooden (and yes, it's possible to have developed characters in a musical. Yeesh). Other than Keel and Russ Tamblyn, I had a lot of trouble distinguishing between the brothers (it probably helps that Russ also starred in Cabin Boy). The brothers and their brides often seem more like set dressing than actors. Donen provides a good commentary track full of production details and personal stories. Unfortunately this track is used in the other featurettes. Aside from the "behind the scenes short" — they interview just about every living cast and crew member, including choreographer Michael Kidd and a very spacey Julie Newmar — the extras are just more of the same. If you like musicals, you'll enjoy them but you've probably seen it all before. Plus: trailers, more. (Warner)