Monday, 24 September 2012

Review - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954 - Dir. Stanley Donen)

Imagine the scene: seven ginger brothers, all mountain men, descend from their solitary house to invade a local town and kidnap some lovely ladies in their chariot. They drive them back to their house covered in blankets. The mountain men have a right laugh. You might be forgiven for thinking that this is from the ginger version of Wrong Turn, but no, it's from the next instalment in our musical season, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Image not from film - funnily enough.

It's Oregon in the 1850s and big burly beard-ridden ginger fellow Adam Pontipee (Howard Keel) wants a wife. He visits a local town, has a little sing, and chooses the lady for him, Milly (Jane Powell). Amazingly she agrees to marry him. What she doesn't know is that she will have to cook and clean for him and his six other beardy ginger brothers. Lucky woman.

Milly sets up an impromptu romance and dance school. She teaches the brothers how to behave and give it some on the dance floor, with some strikingly effective high knee manouevres. Her school works so well, in such a short length of time, that the fellas are virtually professional dancers/gymnasts by the time they come into contact with their first ladies. 

And so we come to the famous 'log dancing' scene. A veritable smorgasbord of comedy dance moves performed whilst balancing on logs. I'll admit it, it's the only reason why this film is included in the season. These scene is so ingrained in our family's consciousness that when it comes round to the inevitable games of charades, this film can be guessed in two seconds by miming dancing on a log. 

I sat and watched the scene thinking how great it will be when they get on to the logs. It's brilliant. But it never happens. It's more the 'plank dancing' scene. Still, it's really funny but the flatness of a plank is no match for the visual splendour of a cylindrical log. Maybe someone could do a George Lucas on it and CGI some logs in there to match my memory. 

Everything after this peak falls a bit flat and the film never recovers. As you may be aware I don't have a particular fondness for musicals so there's not really that much for me. The aforementioned kidnapping is the best part of the latter half. Sadly the 'log dancing' scene isn't available on YouTube or I would have put it on for you and saved you the bother of watching the rest of it.

The use of grainy old film allows the film-makers to get away with some old school trickery: rear projection, large sets with painted backdrops and models. It is also one of the most colourful films, especially when our ginger hillbillies go into town in their beautiful coloured shirts. It all adds to make some very pleasing visuals.

The trailer is great with some premium quality titling but not a whiff of the 'log dancing' scene. I'll leave the final comment to mother of evlkeith who came round to watch it with me (it's her favourite film): 'Very light-hearted and relaxing.'

If you like this you could also try:
I don't know of any other films that specialise in 'log dancing'. If you do let, me know.


  1. The whole thing sounds like heaven to me. Gingers, plank dancing, womanising and someone to cook and clean for you. The dance school sounds equally appealing for some reason.