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Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

September 9, 2010

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
Director: Stanley Donen
Actors: Howard Keel, Jane Powell, Russ Tamblyn

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Synopsis: After the oldest Pontipee brother, Adam (Howard Keel), goes to town to get himself a wife (Jane Powell), his six young brothers want a piece of the action too….

Review: As light and breezy musicals go, this is close to perfection. Coming in at a lean ninety minutes, it wastes no time in saddling up its narrative of seven backwoodsmen – the Pontipee brothers – looking to find seven brides from a nearby reputable town. The sheer energy of the piece is what really transmits – probably as a result of the story revolving around the physicality of these seven men – and the most memorable sequences invariably involve the Pontipee brothers in one scrape or another: whether it’s the opening brotherly dust-up in the rundown family homestead, to the expertly-choreographed barn dance scene bristling with verve as the seven brothers (iconically clad in individually coloured shirts) dance, acrobat and fight their way to notoriety. If nitpicking, one could argue the film lacks truly memorable solo/duet numbers, and that is probably due to the relatively rushed and undermotivated central relationship between Howard Keel and Jane Powell’s characters. Whenever the Pontipee brothers as a group feature though, the energy soon picks up, and film’s main calling-card (as a uniquely masculine and visceral musical experience) is felt. (October 2008)

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