47 Great Movie Moments #39 – Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

And we continue with this series of 47 moments in film that I love. (Why 47?)  I am almost not 47 anymore, so I should really get these done.  For #39, we move continue with musicals, and one of the stranger films I’ve ever seen.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Directed by:  Stanley Donen

Reclusive mountain man Adam meets Milly and wins her as a bride.  But trouble ensues when Adam’s six brothers attempt to find brides of their own. 

The Set-up

In an effort to win the women of the town, Adam’s brothers have been part of a barn-raising competition, but were sabotaged by the local men, who all resent them.  Upset and feeling rejected, they spend their winter alone…

The Moment

One lonely day, the six younger brothers are all out in the field, gathering firewood, and feeling sorry for themselves.

That’s it?  Well, no, not quite…they also sing the song Lament (Lonesome Polecat) by Gene de Paul, which is a melancholy little number about how lonely the boys are, with only farm animals and nature to keep them company (“Can’t make no vows to a heard of cows…” and “Can’t shoot no breeze with a bunch of trees,”) for example.  The singing is good (Bill Lee apparently dubbed for the lead singing brother of the song, Caleb, played by Matt Mattox), and the dancing minimal, but the sequence and the song are superbly choreographed so that their slow, shuffling movements and wood-chopping all become part of the song itself.

The whole bit is filmed in one take, and although the limited budget makes the studio location pretty obvious, but the effortless timing of all the actions and the tight harmonies give the whole thing a really polished and high quality look.  The synchronized wood-chopping mixes well with the wistful music to create a strong emotive scene.

The Payoff

The boys are rallied by their older brother to go into town, kidnap all the girls they like and then drag them off to their mountain home and force them to marry them.

…Yeah, it’s a bit strange, and not by any means a very politically correct story.  Even though the boys do eventually learn a lesson, it’s all a bit weird.  But, thankfully, the movie seems to know it’s silly , and along the way there is this and a number of other really high quality sequences.

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