Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
|Seven Brides for Seven Brothers|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Stanley Donen|
|Produced by||Jack Cummings|
|Story by||Stephen Vincent Benét (short story)|
|Editing by||Ralph E. Winters|
|Running time||102 minutes|
|Box office||$5.6 million (est. US/ Canada rentals)|
The script (by Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich, and Dorothy Kingsley) is based on the short story "The Sobbin' Women", by Stephen Vincent Benét, which was based in turn on the Ancient Roman legend of The Rape of the Sabine Women.
A backwoodsman named Adam Pontipee and his new bride Milly agreed to marry despite knowing each other for only a few hours. On returning to his cabin in the mountains, Milly is surprised to learn that Adam is one of seven brothers living under the same roof.
The brothers have been named alphabetically from the Old Testament and in chronological order are: Adam, Benjamin, Caleb, Daniel, Ephraim, Frank (short for Frankincense, the Old Testament having no names beginning with F), and Gideon. All of the brothers have red hair and are well over six feet tall, except Gideon, who is younger and shorter than his brothers.
Milly teaches Adam's rowdy, ill-behaved younger brothers manners and social mores. She also shows them how to dance. At first, the brothers have a hard time changing from their "mountain man" ways, but eventually each comes to see that the only way he will get a girl of his own is to do things Milly's way.
They are able to test their new manners at a barn-raising, where they meet six girls they like — Dorcas, Ruth, Martha, Liza, Sarah and Alice — and, fortunately, the girls take a fancy to the brothers as well. However, the girls already have suitors from the town, who jealously taunt the brothers into fighting during the barn-raising. At first the brothers try to resist and remember Milly's teaching, but Adam refuses to let himself be pushed around by the rival suitors, who he sees as cowards taking advantage of his younger brothers. The rival suitors finally go too far when they attack Adam, which provokes Gideon into fighting back and a fierce brawl ensues wherein the brothers dominate their physically weaker rivals. Although the brothers do not start the fight, they are banished from the town after destroying the barn in the process.
Winter arrives, with the six younger brothers pining for their girls. Adam reads his brothers the story of "Sobbin' Women" (taken from Plutarch's story of the Sabine Women) and tells them that they should stop moping around and take whatever action is necessary to get their women back.
Aided by Adam, the brothers kidnap the girls, then cause an avalanche so that they cannot be followed by the townspeople. They have, however, forgotten to kidnap a preacher. Milly is furious at Adam, as are the girls at having been kidnapped. Milly consigns the brothers to the barn "with the rest of the livestock" while the girls live in the house. Adam, surprised and offended by Milly's reaction, leaves for the trapping cabin further up the mountain to live out the winter by himself.
Millie realizes that she is pregnant with Adam's child.
Months pass, and the girls vent their frustration and resentment by playing pranks on the brothers, such as hitting them with snowballs that have rocks in them. By spring the girls have forgiven and fallen in love with the brothers, who are now allowed to court them. Milly gives birth to a daughter, Hannah. Gideon rides to the cabin to inform Adam about his daughter's arrival and asks him to come home. Adam refuses to do so, saying that he had said he would return home only when the snow had melted enough and the pass was open once more to traffic.
Having time to think about his baby daughter, Adam returns home in the spring just as the pass is opening and reconciles with Milly. As a newly responsible father, he has become aware of how worried the townspeople would be about what has happened to the girls. Realizing he was wrong to tell his brothers to kidnap the girls, Adam tells his brothers that they need to take the girls back to their homes in the town, but his brothers do not want to do so.
The girls do not want to return to their homes, either — they all want to stay at the farm with their new suitors and thus go and hide so that they will not be taken back home. When Milly discovers that the girls are not in the house, Adam tells his brothers to go after the girls and bring them back.
The townspeople arrive, with the intention of taking vengeance against the brothers for the kidnappings. Upon finding the brothers trying to force the girls to return, the fathers get the wrong impression, believing their daughters are being assaulted, and charge to their rescue. Alice's father, who is a preacher, hears baby Hannah cry in the distance, and worries that the baby might belong to one of the girls. The fighting is finally sorted out, with the fathers, and other townsmen, rounding up the brothers and announcing that they intend to hang them.
Alice's father asks the girls whose baby he heard. They all decide, simultaneously, to claim the baby as their own. This misinformation gives the girls and the brothers their fondest wish — the townspeople insist that all six couples marry immediately in a shotgun wedding.
In his introduction to a showing on Turner Classic Movies on January 17, 2009, host Robert Osborne, as well as Jane Powell in her autobiography, The Girl Next Door, both say MGM was much less interested in Seven Brides than it was in Brigadoon which was also filming at the time, even cutting its budget and transferring the money to the Lerner and Loewe vehicle.
On the 2004 DVD commentary, Stanley Donen states that the film was originally shot in two versions, one in CinemaScope and another in normal ratio, because MGM was concerned that not all theaters had the capability to screen it. Despite the fact that it cost more than the widescreen version to make, he says, the other version was never used. However both versions are available on the 2004 DVD release. .
- Main Title (Bless Your Beautiful Hide / Wonderful, Wonderful Day) - MGM Studio Orchestra
- Bless Your Beautiful Hide - Howard Keel
- Bless Your Beautiful Hide (Reprise) - Howard Keel
- Wonderful, Wonderful Day - Jane Powell
- When You're in Love - Jane Powell / Howard Keel
- Goin' Courtin' - Jane Powell & Brothers (Jeff Richards, Matt Mattox, Tommy Rall & Russ Tamblyn)
- Social Dance - MGM Studio Orchestra
- Barn-Raising Dance - MGM Studio Orchestra
- Lonesome Polecat - Brothers (Matt Mattox, Bill Lee, Jeff Richards, Tommy Rall & Russ Tamblyn)
- Sobbin' Women - Howard Keel & Brothers (Tommy Rall, Jeff Richards, Matt Mattox & Russ Tamblyn)
- Sobbin' Women (Reprise) - Howard Keel
- June Bride -Virginia Gibson- Brides (Ruta Lee, Julie Newmar, Norma Doggett & Nancy Kilgas)
- Spring, Spring, Spring - Brothers & Brides (Julie Newmar, Jeff Richards, Ruta Lee & Tommy Rall)
- Goin' Courtin' (Reprise) - Jane Powell, Brothers & Brides
- End Credits - MGM Studio Orchestra
Brothers and their Brides:
- Howard Keel as Adam and Jane Powell as Milly
- Jeff Richards as Benjamin and Julie Newmar (Newmeyer) as Dorcas
- Matt Mattox as Caleb and Ruta Kilmonis as Ruth
- Marc Platt as Daniel and Norma Doggett as Martha
- Jacques d'Amboise as Ephraim and Virginia Gibson as Liza
- Tommy Rall as Frank and Betty Carr as Sarah
- Russ Tamblyn as Gideon and Nancy Kilgas as Alice
To perform the electrifying dance numbers and grueling action sequences, choreographer Michael Kidd cast four professional dancers, a gymnast and even a baseball player as Adam Pontipee's six rough and tumble brothers.
- Adam: Howard Keel appeared as "Adam," the romantic lead and eldest of the seven brothers.
- Benjamin: Jeff Richards, who played "Benjamin," was a former professional baseball player who topped out at the AAA level of the minor leagues. Although obviously athletic, he is noticeably in the background, seated, or standing during the dance numbers so as to not expose his less than stellar dancing skills. Unfortunately this often relegated his partner, the classically-trained ballet dancer Julie Newmar, to the background as well.
- Caleb, Daniel, Ephraim and Frank: All four actors (Matt Mattox, Marc Platt, Jacques d'Amboise, and Tommy Rall) were professional dancers - with d'Amboise (Ephraim) appearing on loan from the New York City Ballet. All four balanced on a beam together during their famous barn-raising dance.
- Gideon: Russ Tamblyn beat Morton Downey Jr. for the role of youngest brother Gideon. Tamblyn showcased his gymnastics training throughout the action sequences.
Towns People 
Reverend Elcott (Ian Wolfe) is the local preacher and is the father of one of the brides. He is the officiant in both wedding ceremonies in the movie.
Professional dancers played all seven of the brides.
- Milly: Jane Powell channeled her experiences growing up in Oregon to create Milly. She and Howard Keel would later reprise their roles in a Seven Brides for Seven Brothers stage revival.
- Dorcas: Julie Newmar (Newmeyer), a classically trained ballerina, would later rise to fame as Catwoman in the 1960s TV version of Batman. She also won a Supporting Actress Tony Award for The Marriage-Go-Round (starring Claudette Colbert). She appeared on her neighbor James Belushi's sitcom According to Jim after the two settled a highly publicized lawsuit.
- Ruth: Ruta Kilmonis enjoyed a long stage and television career, working with Lucille Ball, Sammy Davis, Jr., Elizabeth Taylor, Natalie Wood, and Frank Sinatra. Lee appeared in the sitcom Roseanne as the first girlfriend of Roseanne's mother. Her singing parts were dubbed in post-production by Betty Noyes.
- Martha: Norma Doggett performed in the 1940s-50s Broadway shows Bells Are Ringing, Fanny, Wish You Were Here, Miss Liberty, and Magdalena
- Liza: Virginia Gibson was nominated for a Tony Award in 1957 and performed regularly on the Johnny Carson show.
- Sarah: Betty Carr was also a Broadway veteran, dancing in Damn Yankees, Happy Hunting, Mask and Gown, and Fanny (alongside Norma Doggett). She died in October 2008 (the first of the seven brides to pass away).
- Alice: Nancy Kilgas made her film debut in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. She danced in the film versions of Oklahoma!, Shake, Rattle & Rock!, and Alfred Hitchcock's Torn Curtain.
The movie was the 5th most popular film at the British box office in 1955.
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers came in third in a BBC Radio 2 listener poll of the UK's "Number One Essential Musicals" and was listed as number eight in the "Top 10 MGM musicals" in the book Top 10 of Film by Russell Ash.
Stage adaptation 
In 1979, an adaptation with a book by Lawrence Kasha and David Landay, and new songs by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn were developed for the stage and enjoyed a lengthy critically and commercially successful national tour. After fifteen previews, the Broadway production, directed by Kasha and choreographed by Jerry Jackson, opened on July 8, 1982 at the Alvin Theatre, where it ran for only five performances. The cast included Debby Boone, David-James Carroll, Jeff Calhoun, Lara Teeter, Craig Peralta, and Nancy Fox. The musical was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Original Score.
In 2005, a major revival was staged at the prestigious Goodspeed Opera House starring Jacquelyn Piro Donovan and Burke Moses. Directed by Greg Ganakas with choreography by Patti Colombo, the production earned rave reviews from Variety and the New York Times. The songs, "Where Were You?", "I Married Seven Brothers", and a revised version of "Glad That You Were Born" were added and the book was heavily rewritten. With a realistic approach, rustic orchestrations and a focus on the Oregon Trail, the show was quite different from its film predecessor. Plans for a 2005-2006 National Tour of the production failed.
However, in 2007, this time under the direction of Scott Schwartz, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers became a joint production between Houston Theatre Under the Stars, Paper Mill Playhouse, North Shore Music Theatre, and Atlanta Theatre of the Stars. With set design by Tony Award nominee, Anna Louizos, the current version is a hybrid between the literal approach of the Goodspeed production and the slapstick camp of the original film. While reviews were positive, the real attention was given to Patti Colombo's acrobatic, athletic, and inventive choreography. The 2007 revival is expected to be the version that will be licensed by Music Theatre International for stock and regional use.
Television adaptation 
From September 19, 1982 to July 2, 1983, CBS broadcasted a weekly television series of the same name, which was loosely-based on the film. The series featured early appearances of Richard Dean Anderson and River Phoenix.
Bollywood Adaptation 
Inspired by Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Bollywood released the film Satte Pe Satta (Seven On Seven) in 1982 starring Amitabh Bachchan as Ravi Anand, the eldest of the seven brothers, and Hema Malini as his love interest, Indu.
- "All Time Domestic Champs", Variety, 6 January 1960 p 34
- Powell, Jane (1988). The Girl Next Door...and How She Grew (1st ed.). ISBN 0-688-06757-3.
- Filming notes in the DVD anniversary edition
- 'Dirk Bogarde favourite film actor', The Irish Times (1921-Current File) [Dublin, Ireland] 29 Dec 1955: 9.
- Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at the Internet Movie Database
- Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at AllRovi
- Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at the TCM Movie Database
- Jacket Magazine: some background information
- "Satte Pe Satta" Movie Review