Seven Brides for Seven Brothers


1h 43m 1954
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Brief Synopsis

When their older brother marries, six lumberjacks decide it's time to go courting for themselves.

Photos & Videos

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers - Set Stills
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers - Publicity Stills
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers - Costume Sketches

Film Details

Also Known As
A Bride for Seven Brothers, Sobbin' Women
MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Romance
Family
Musical
Western
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Aug 6, 1954
Premiere Information
World premiere in Houston, TX: 15 Jul 1954; New York opening: 22 Jul 1954
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Location
High Sierras--Tioga Pass, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "The Sobbin' Women" by Stephen Vincent Benét in Argosy (Nov 1938).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 43m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System), Stereo
Color
Color (Anscocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1, 2.20 : 1, 2.55 : 1
Film Length
9,164ft (13 reels)

Synopsis

In the Oregon territory in 1850, farmer Adam Pontipee comes into town to trade and announces to the shopkeepers that he is in the market for a wife to keep house for him and his six younger brothers. He quickly becomes enamored of Milly, a pretty, hard-working young woman who cooks for the local boardinghouse. Explaining that the responsibilities of running a farm do not allow for a lengthy courtship, Adam proposes to Milly, and they are married right away. As they ride back to the farm, Milly rejoices that she will now have only one man to take care of, and Adam does not have the heart to spoil her illusion. When they reach the farm, Milly is stunned at the sight of all the rough-and-tumble Pontipee brothers, but she promptly sets about putting their back-woods home in order. That night, however, the brothers' appalling table manners infuriate Milly, and she reproachfully tells Adam that he wanted a servant, not a wife. Milly banishes Adam from the bedroom, then relents, confessing that she loved him at first sight. The following morning, Milly begins the task of civilizing the brothers, forcing them to submit to underwear-laundering and a shave before giving them breakfast. She also instructs them in the etiquette of courting women, and after a month, they all attend a barn-raising dance. Despite the brothers' efforts to be on their best behavior, they are drawn into a brawl by the men from town. Later, Milly overhears as the youngest brother, Gideon, tells Adam he fears the townspeople will never let the brothers court their women now. Winter comes, and the brothers find themselves lonesome and pining for female companionship. When brother Benjamin announces his intention to leave the farm, Milly tells Adam that the brothers are grieving for the women they met at the dance. Determined to keep his family together, Adam, who has been reading a copy of Plutarch's Lives given to Milly by her late father, hatches a plan. Gathering his brothers in the barn, Adam tells them they should follow the example of the ancient Romans with the Sabine women by carrying off their future brides. The Pontipee men go into town and abduct the women of their dreams, then ride off with the townspeople in pursuit. After getting through a treacherous mountain pass, the brothers fire their guns, causing an avalanche that prevents the townspeople from following them. Milly is shocked when the brothers show up with their captives, and sends all the men to live in the barn. Stung by Milly's harsh words, Adam goes to spend the rest of the winter in his trapping cabin in the mountains. The snowbound women soon begin to moon over the brothers, and when Milly announces she is going to have a baby, they all long to be married. Spring finally arrives, and the brothers and their girl friends happily pursue romance. Milly gives birth to a daughter, but when Gideon rides to the trapping cabin with the news, Adam stubbornly refuses to come home. Adam returns when the pass reopens, however, fearing an attack by the townspeople. After greeting his daughter Hannah and making up with Milly, Adam announces that the women will be returned to their families at once. The brothers oppose this plan, and while the men are sorting it out, the women run away. The brothers set about recapturing the women, who struggle fiercely as they now wish to stay. The women's kinfolk from town arrive in time to witness the fracas, and the brothers are quickly overpowered. Just as the townspeople are about to hang the brothers, Hannah's cries are heard from inside the house. Reverend Elcott inquires about the baby and, in a moment of inspiration, the women simultaneously claim to be the mother. A shotgun wedding is performed at once, and all the happy couples kiss.

Photo Collections

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers - Set Stills
Here is a group of Set Stills taken for the MGM production Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954). Sets were photographed prior to shooting for approvals in lighting and design.
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers - Publicity Stills
Here are a number of Publicity Stills from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954). Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers - Costume Sketches
Here are a few costume design sketches from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954).

Videos

Movie Clip

Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954) - Wonderful, Wonderful Day Jane Powell’s first solo song, as Millie, spontaneously married to Oregon backwoodsman Adam Pontipee (Howard Keel), for now having no idea he has brothers, composed by Gene de Paul and Johnny Mercer, direction by Stanley Donen, in MGM’s Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, 1954.
Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954) - Sobbin' Women Adam (Howard Keel) counsels his brothers with an improbable historical reference via Gene De Paul and Johnny Mercer's "Sobbin' Women," which in turn was based on the satirical Stephen Vincent Benèt story from which the musical was written, in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, 1954.
Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954) - Bless Your Beautiful Hide Cocky Oregonian Adam (Howard Keel) expresses romantic aspirations with Gene De Paul and Johnny Mercer's "Bless Your Beautiful Hide," before meeting his co-star and bride to be Jane Powell, early in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, 1954.
Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954) - Come On Everybody! The Pontipee brothers, led more by tumbling Gideon (Russ Tamblyn) than eldest Adam (Howard Keel) dazzle the crowd in choreographer Michael Kidd's famous barn-raising dance from Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, 1954.
Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954) - Stop The Fight! Having trounced the locals in an impromptu dance challenge, the Pontipee brothers wind up in a slugfest, also choreographed by Michael Kidd, in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, 1954.

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Also Known As
A Bride for Seven Brothers, Sobbin' Women
MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Romance
Family
Musical
Western
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Aug 6, 1954
Premiere Information
World premiere in Houston, TX: 15 Jul 1954; New York opening: 22 Jul 1954
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Location
High Sierras--Tioga Pass, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "The Sobbin' Women" by Stephen Vincent Benét in Argosy (Nov 1938).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 43m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System), Stereo
Color
Color (Anscocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1, 2.20 : 1, 2.55 : 1
Film Length
9,164ft (13 reels)

Award Wins

Best Score

1954

Award Nominations

Best Cinematography

1954

Best Editing

1954
Ralph E Winters

Best Picture

1954

Best Writing, Screenplay

1955

Articles

The Essentials - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers


SYNOPSIS

The rugged Pontipee brothers are living a life of self-sufficiency in the Oregon mountains during the 1850s. When the eldest brother, Adam, brings home his pretty new wife from town, Milly, the brothers decide that they too should find brides. First, however, Milly must teach the well-meaning but ignorant brothers how to behave so that they can successfully woo the women of their choice.

Director: Stanley Donen
Producer: Jack Cummings
Screenplay: Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich, Dorothy Kingsley
Cinematography: George Folsey
Editing: Ralph E. Winters
Music Director: Adolph Deutsch
Music Supervisor: Saul Chaplin
Music Composers: Johnny Mercer, Gene de Paul
Costume Designer: Walter Plunkett
Cast: Howard Keel (Adam Pontipee), Jeff Richards (Benjamin Pontipee), Russ Tamblyn (Gideon Pontipee), Tommy Rall (Frank Pontipee), Marc Platt (Daniel Pontipee), Matt Mattox (Caleb Pontipee), Jacques d'Amboise (Ephraim Pontipee), Jane Powell (Milly), Julie Newmeyer (Dorcas), Nancy Kilgas (Alice), Betty Carr (Sarah), Virginia Gibson (Liza), Ruta Kilmonis (Ruth), Norma Doggett (Martha), Ian Wolfe (Reverend Elcott), Howard Petrie (Pete Perkins), Earl Barton (Harry), Dante DiPaolo (Matt), Kelly Brown (Carl), Matt Moore (Ruth's Uncle), Dick Rich (Dorcas' Father), Marjorie Wood (Mrs. Bixby), Russell Simpson (Mr. Bixby), Anna Q. Nilsson (Mrs. Elcott).
C-103m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video.

Why SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS is Essential

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is one of the few but great film musicals that expertly integrates music, dance and story. Exuberant and full of charm, this film is thoroughly entertaining from start to finish. Unlike many of the film musicals of its time, Seven Brides did not come from an already existing Broadway stage version. It was an original musical made expressly for the big screen, which makes its success all the more critical in the history of the movie musical.

Michael Kidd's stunning athletic choreography for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is one of the film's greatest strengths and contributed enormously to its box office success. Kidd's choreography helped revitalize and influence the way in which movie musicals were staged. From the show stopping barn dance number to the quiet rhythmic movement of "Lament (Lonesome Polecat)," Kidd's choreography always manages to find the perfect note to suit each scene and make singing and dancing mountain men thoroughly believable and charming.

One of the earliest CinemaScope films made for MGM, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is visually exciting, making the most of the widescreen process. With up to fourteen characters (the seven brides and seven brothers) dancing and interacting on the screen at the same time, the technical achievement of this film is no small feat. It remains an excellent example of the beauty of CinemaScope.

Though he had directed some films on his own by 1954, Stanley Donen's major successes in film musicals had always been in conjunction with Gene Kelly, with whom he shared directing credit on the huge hits On the Town (1949) and Singin' in the Rain (1952). The enormous popularity of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was something Donen achieved entirely on his own. It helped established him as one of the best directors of film musicals and one of the most sought after by studios.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers features one of the most appealing casts of actors, singers and dancers ever to appear in a musical film. As the two leads, established stars Howard Keel and Jane Powell do some of the finest work in their careers. Up-and-coming actor Russ Tamblyn is also a wonder to watch as he shows off his acrobatic dancing skills that first put the young actor on the map and led to greater things (West Side Story, 1961).

by Andrea Passafiume
The Essentials - Seven Brides For Seven Brothers

The Essentials - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

SYNOPSIS The rugged Pontipee brothers are living a life of self-sufficiency in the Oregon mountains during the 1850s. When the eldest brother, Adam, brings home his pretty new wife from town, Milly, the brothers decide that they too should find brides. First, however, Milly must teach the well-meaning but ignorant brothers how to behave so that they can successfully woo the women of their choice. Director: Stanley Donen Producer: Jack Cummings Screenplay: Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich, Dorothy Kingsley Cinematography: George Folsey Editing: Ralph E. Winters Music Director: Adolph Deutsch Music Supervisor: Saul Chaplin Music Composers: Johnny Mercer, Gene de Paul Costume Designer: Walter Plunkett Cast: Howard Keel (Adam Pontipee), Jeff Richards (Benjamin Pontipee), Russ Tamblyn (Gideon Pontipee), Tommy Rall (Frank Pontipee), Marc Platt (Daniel Pontipee), Matt Mattox (Caleb Pontipee), Jacques d'Amboise (Ephraim Pontipee), Jane Powell (Milly), Julie Newmeyer (Dorcas), Nancy Kilgas (Alice), Betty Carr (Sarah), Virginia Gibson (Liza), Ruta Kilmonis (Ruth), Norma Doggett (Martha), Ian Wolfe (Reverend Elcott), Howard Petrie (Pete Perkins), Earl Barton (Harry), Dante DiPaolo (Matt), Kelly Brown (Carl), Matt Moore (Ruth's Uncle), Dick Rich (Dorcas' Father), Marjorie Wood (Mrs. Bixby), Russell Simpson (Mr. Bixby), Anna Q. Nilsson (Mrs. Elcott). C-103m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video. Why SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS is Essential Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is one of the few but great film musicals that expertly integrates music, dance and story. Exuberant and full of charm, this film is thoroughly entertaining from start to finish. Unlike many of the film musicals of its time, Seven Brides did not come from an already existing Broadway stage version. It was an original musical made expressly for the big screen, which makes its success all the more critical in the history of the movie musical. Michael Kidd's stunning athletic choreography for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is one of the film's greatest strengths and contributed enormously to its box office success. Kidd's choreography helped revitalize and influence the way in which movie musicals were staged. From the show stopping barn dance number to the quiet rhythmic movement of "Lament (Lonesome Polecat)," Kidd's choreography always manages to find the perfect note to suit each scene and make singing and dancing mountain men thoroughly believable and charming. One of the earliest CinemaScope films made for MGM, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is visually exciting, making the most of the widescreen process. With up to fourteen characters (the seven brides and seven brothers) dancing and interacting on the screen at the same time, the technical achievement of this film is no small feat. It remains an excellent example of the beauty of CinemaScope. Though he had directed some films on his own by 1954, Stanley Donen's major successes in film musicals had always been in conjunction with Gene Kelly, with whom he shared directing credit on the huge hits On the Town (1949) and Singin' in the Rain (1952). The enormous popularity of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was something Donen achieved entirely on his own. It helped established him as one of the best directors of film musicals and one of the most sought after by studios. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers features one of the most appealing casts of actors, singers and dancers ever to appear in a musical film. As the two leads, established stars Howard Keel and Jane Powell do some of the finest work in their careers. Up-and-coming actor Russ Tamblyn is also a wonder to watch as he shows off his acrobatic dancing skills that first put the young actor on the map and led to greater things (West Side Story, 1961). by Andrea Passafiume

Pop Culture 101 - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers - Pop Culture: SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS


A short-lived television show called Seven Brides for Seven Brothers based loosely on the film went on the air in 1982. The brothers' last name was changed to McFadden, and the story setting was updated to a modern day cattle ranch in California. Future stars Richard Dean Anderson, Peter Horton and River Phoenix all played McFadden brothers.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers loosely inspired another television show called Here Come the Brides, which ran from 1968-1970.

In 1978 Seven Brides for Seven Brothers became a stage musical starring Debby Boone and toured the United States. It was adapted by Al Kasha and David Landay and featured some new songs in addition to the ones from the film. However, the show closed before it reached Broadway.

A 2005 revival of the stage version of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at the famed Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut featuring a major reworking earned rave reviews.

A London West End stage version of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was successful enough to have a cast recording soundtrack released in 1985.

by Andrea Passafiume

Pop Culture 101 - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers - Pop Culture: SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS

A short-lived television show called Seven Brides for Seven Brothers based loosely on the film went on the air in 1982. The brothers' last name was changed to McFadden, and the story setting was updated to a modern day cattle ranch in California. Future stars Richard Dean Anderson, Peter Horton and River Phoenix all played McFadden brothers. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers loosely inspired another television show called Here Come the Brides, which ran from 1968-1970. In 1978 Seven Brides for Seven Brothers became a stage musical starring Debby Boone and toured the United States. It was adapted by Al Kasha and David Landay and featured some new songs in addition to the ones from the film. However, the show closed before it reached Broadway. A 2005 revival of the stage version of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at the famed Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut featuring a major reworking earned rave reviews. A London West End stage version of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was successful enough to have a cast recording soundtrack released in 1985. by Andrea Passafiume

Trivia - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers - Trivia & Fun Facts About SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS


Two different versions of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers were shot: one in the CinemaScope aspect ratio, and one in the smaller flat screen aspect ratio in order to accommodate theaters that did not have the capacity to project CinemaScope films at the time. While the CinemaScope version of Seven Brides has become the definitive version of the film, the 2004 Special Edition DVD includes both versions.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers had its world premiere in Houston, Texas on July 15, 1954.

The cast of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is listed in different order in the opening credits and in the closing credits.

In 1996 Turner Entertainment released a newly restored print of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers to the public.

At one point, MGM tried to convince director Stanley Donen to include a dream ballet in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which was a popular musical device at the time. However, Donen talked the studio out of it.

Stanley Donen's one regret about making Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was that he did not get to shoot it on location in Oregon. "I wanted to make this picture entirely on location," said Donen in a 2004 interview. "I wanted so much to shoot the whole picture in the hills and the mountains of Oregon and it would have cost more money I grant you, but it would have been a good way to spend the money rather than spending it on a non-CinemaScope version. So all the phony look of the paintings and the backgrounds is all due to the fact that they (MGM) wanted to have another version."

One of the seven brides, Dorcas, is played by an actress credited as "Julie Newmeyer." Later the beautiful actress changed her name to Julie Newmar and became famous for playing the original Catwoman on the popular 1960s television show Batman.

In some print ads at the time of the original release of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers there was a quote from President Eisenhower saying, "If you haven't seen it, you should see it."

Jeff Richards, who plays Benjamin Pontipee in the film, is the only brother never shown dancing.

MGM had all the actors playing Pontipee brothers dye their hair red so that the audience would more easily be able to distinguish them from the male suitors from town in their scenes together.

The girls' dresses in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers were supposed to be made out of quilts, so costume designer Walter Plunkett went to the Salvation Army, bought up several old authentic quilts and made them into dresses.

Because dancer Jacques d'Amboise, who plays Ephraim Pontipee, was so shy and didn't talk much, star Jane Powell assumed because of his name he was French and didn't speak English. "It wasn't until I moved back to New York and we met again," Powell says in her 1988 autobiography The Girl Next Door and How She Grew, "that I learned he didn't speak French at all-he's American through and through and has a distinctive New York accent."

Star Howard Keel reveals in his 2005 autobiography Only Make Believe: My Life in Show Business that he quit smoking during the making of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which made him gain weight.

According to Howard Keel, the night before the song "When You're in Love" was to be recorded for the film, Saul Chaplin heard another song on the radio while driving home that began with the exact same four musical notes. Chaplin, concerned that it would be a problem that could result in an accusation of plagiarism, consulted with Jack Cummings, Johnny Mercer, and Gene de Paul and they decided to change the opening notes of their song.

Famous Quotes from SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS

"Don't you like girls?"
"We ain't never hardly ever seen one."
– Jane Powell (as Milly) and Russ Tamblyn (as Gideon Pontipee)

"Well, it wouldn't hurt you to learn some manners, too."
"What do I need manners for? I already got me a wife."
– Jane Powell (as Milly) and Howard Keel (as Adam Pontipee)

"There wasn't an F name in the Bible, so they named him Frankincense, because he smelled so sweet." – Matt Mattox (as Caleb Pontipee), explaining the origins of brother Frank's name.

"Doesn't it do anything but snow up here? We've had a blizzard every day for the past two months. I'm going crazy, shut up in this house!" – Virginia Gibson (as Liza)

"Love is like the measles. You only get it once, and the older you are, the harder you take it." –Howard Keel (as Adam Pontipee)

"Somehow it just don't seem fitting for a man to spend his wedding night in a tree." – Jane Powell (as Milly), referring to husband Adam (Howard Keel)

"You're beating your head against a stone wall Milly, you'll never make Jack-a-dandies out of them." – Howard Keel (as Adam) to Jane Powell's Milly, referring to his brothers.

Compiled by Andrea Passafiume

Trivia - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers - Trivia & Fun Facts About SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS

Two different versions of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers were shot: one in the CinemaScope aspect ratio, and one in the smaller flat screen aspect ratio in order to accommodate theaters that did not have the capacity to project CinemaScope films at the time. While the CinemaScope version of Seven Brides has become the definitive version of the film, the 2004 Special Edition DVD includes both versions. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers had its world premiere in Houston, Texas on July 15, 1954. The cast of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is listed in different order in the opening credits and in the closing credits. In 1996 Turner Entertainment released a newly restored print of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers to the public. At one point, MGM tried to convince director Stanley Donen to include a dream ballet in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which was a popular musical device at the time. However, Donen talked the studio out of it. Stanley Donen's one regret about making Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was that he did not get to shoot it on location in Oregon. "I wanted to make this picture entirely on location," said Donen in a 2004 interview. "I wanted so much to shoot the whole picture in the hills and the mountains of Oregon and it would have cost more money I grant you, but it would have been a good way to spend the money rather than spending it on a non-CinemaScope version. So all the phony look of the paintings and the backgrounds is all due to the fact that they (MGM) wanted to have another version." One of the seven brides, Dorcas, is played by an actress credited as "Julie Newmeyer." Later the beautiful actress changed her name to Julie Newmar and became famous for playing the original Catwoman on the popular 1960s television show Batman. In some print ads at the time of the original release of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers there was a quote from President Eisenhower saying, "If you haven't seen it, you should see it." Jeff Richards, who plays Benjamin Pontipee in the film, is the only brother never shown dancing. MGM had all the actors playing Pontipee brothers dye their hair red so that the audience would more easily be able to distinguish them from the male suitors from town in their scenes together. The girls' dresses in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers were supposed to be made out of quilts, so costume designer Walter Plunkett went to the Salvation Army, bought up several old authentic quilts and made them into dresses. Because dancer Jacques d'Amboise, who plays Ephraim Pontipee, was so shy and didn't talk much, star Jane Powell assumed because of his name he was French and didn't speak English. "It wasn't until I moved back to New York and we met again," Powell says in her 1988 autobiography The Girl Next Door and How She Grew, "that I learned he didn't speak French at all-he's American through and through and has a distinctive New York accent." Star Howard Keel reveals in his 2005 autobiography Only Make Believe: My Life in Show Business that he quit smoking during the making of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which made him gain weight. According to Howard Keel, the night before the song "When You're in Love" was to be recorded for the film, Saul Chaplin heard another song on the radio while driving home that began with the exact same four musical notes. Chaplin, concerned that it would be a problem that could result in an accusation of plagiarism, consulted with Jack Cummings, Johnny Mercer, and Gene de Paul and they decided to change the opening notes of their song. Famous Quotes from SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS "Don't you like girls?" "We ain't never hardly ever seen one." – Jane Powell (as Milly) and Russ Tamblyn (as Gideon Pontipee) "Well, it wouldn't hurt you to learn some manners, too." "What do I need manners for? I already got me a wife." – Jane Powell (as Milly) and Howard Keel (as Adam Pontipee) "There wasn't an F name in the Bible, so they named him Frankincense, because he smelled so sweet." – Matt Mattox (as Caleb Pontipee), explaining the origins of brother Frank's name. "Doesn't it do anything but snow up here? We've had a blizzard every day for the past two months. I'm going crazy, shut up in this house!" – Virginia Gibson (as Liza) "Love is like the measles. You only get it once, and the older you are, the harder you take it." –Howard Keel (as Adam Pontipee) "Somehow it just don't seem fitting for a man to spend his wedding night in a tree." – Jane Powell (as Milly), referring to husband Adam (Howard Keel) "You're beating your head against a stone wall Milly, you'll never make Jack-a-dandies out of them." – Howard Keel (as Adam) to Jane Powell's Milly, referring to his brothers. Compiled by Andrea Passafiume

The Big Idea - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers


The source material for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was Stephen Vincent Benet's short story The Sobbin' Women originally published in the November 1938 issue of Argosy. The Sobbin' Women was itself a parody of an ancient Greek story as taken from Plutarch's Life of Romulus about the Sabine Women, who were abducted by Roman soldiers to be their brides. Benet's story updated the setting to the Oregon frontier of the 1850s and substituted the Roman men with seven rural brothers.

Bringing the tale of The Sobbin' Women to the big screen had long been producer Jack Cummings' pet project. Cummings, the nephew of Louis B. Mayer, had produced several successful musicals for MGM including Easy to Wed (1946) and Kiss Me Kate (1953). Famed Broadway director Joshua Logan had already optioned the rights to Benet's story, however, with the intention of turning it into a stage musical. After five years passed and Logan had not made progress with The Sobbin' Women, his option was up and MGM quickly snapped up the rights to the story on Cummings' behalf for $40,000.

Cummings immediately began to assemble a top rate team to work on the film version of The Sobbin' Women. He brought the husband and wife writing team of Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich along with Dorothy Kingsley to adapt the story into a workable screenplay. He then asked Stanley Donen to direct. Cummings and MGM had been impressed with Donen's previous work, which included Royal Wedding (1951), Singin' in the Rain (1952) and Give a Girl a Break (1953), and thought he would be the perfect person to bring The Sobbin' Women to life as a musical. Impressed with the screenplay, Donen was thrilled to take on the project. "The authors of the screenplay were really wonderful, bright, sharp, funny and really elegant in their construction and dialogue. I just think they're remarkable," said Donen in a 2004 interview.

Despite their enthusiasm to bring The Sobbin' Women to the screen, MGM was partial to another musical film they had in production at the time: Brigadoon (1954), starring Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse. MGM saw Brigadoon as their "A" picture, and Seven Brides as a "B" picture. As a result, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was assigned an extremely tight budget, while MGM put the majority of their faith and money into Brigadoon. According to star Jane Powell, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers almost didn't even make it to the screen because of Brigadoon. "The studio," she writes in her 1988 autobiography The Girl Next Door and How She Grew, "was pouring all this money into Brigadoon and felt it couldn't afford to do two musical extravaganzas at once, so MGM bigwigs were going to drop it. But Jack Cummings, our producer, talked the studio into doing it. He offered to cut the budget, to economize in every way possible. He pleaded."

MGM didn't want to spend any money for original songs to use in The Sobbin' Women. The studio management thought the film could use already existing American folk songs for musical numbers. Stanley Donen fought hard to get an original musical score and new songs for the film, which MGM finally conceded. Johnny Mercer was brought on board to write song lyrics. At first composer Harold Arlen was to collaborate with Mercer on the music, but Mercer rejected working with Arlen. "He's too picky about the words that go with his music," he explained. Eventually Mercer partnered successfully with Gene de Paul, and together they came up with several new inspired songs for the film including "Bless Your Beautiful Hide," "June Bride," and "Sobbin' Women."

From the beginning, Stanley Donen knew that he wanted famed dancer and choreographer Michael Kidd to stage all of the musical numbers. "Michael Kidd was the choreographer to do this film," Donen said in a 2004 interview, "because his choreography was inventive, athletic, not classical ballet dancing, but dancing which is remarkable." The problem was that neither Kidd nor the studio could visualize seven rugged mountain men breaking into song and dance in a believable manner. In addition, Kidd was exhausted from doing a show in New York at the time and wanted to take a break. He told Stanley Donen that he didn't want to do the film. Donen, however, refused to take no for an answer. He convinced Kidd to at least listen to the songs for the film, and Kidd liked them. Still, Kidd couldn't see how dance numbers could be effectively worked into the story. "I said to Stanley and Saul Chaplin," recalled Kidd in a 2004 interview, "'I can't see any dancing in this picture. You got these seven slobs living out in the country. They got horse manure on the floor. They're unwashed. They're unshaven. They look terrible. These people are going to get up and dance? We'll be hooted out of the theater! It doesn't make any sense to me.'" With a little cajoling and eventually begging, Donen finally convinced Kidd to at least stage the movement of the musical numbers, even if he couldn't envision dancing. Before long, Kidd did see opportunities in the script for the brothers to be dancing. The musical numbers he eventually brought to life would turn out to be one of the film's biggest assets.

When the time came to cast Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Donen called upon established musical stars Howard Keel (Show Boat [1951], Kiss Me Kate) and Jane Powell (A Date with Judy [1948], Royal Wedding) to play the leads, Adam and Milly. For Adam's six brothers, Michael Kidd told MGM that he wanted dancers for the parts. MGM responded that they didn't have dancers under contract at the studio-just actors. In the end, they compromised. MGM would let Kidd and Donen hire four dancers of their choice as long as they used two actors who were already under contract at MGM for the remaining Pontipee brothers. For the dancing brothers, Tommy Rall, Marc Platt, Matt Mattox, and New York City Ballet dancer Jacques d'Amboise were hired. Jack Cummings and Stanley Donen had been at a performance of the New York City Ballet in San Francisco when they saw d'Amboise perform and thought he would be perfect to play one of the brothers. With George Balanchine's blessing, d'Amboise was excused to work on the film. The non-dancing MGM actors chosen to play the other Pontipee brothers per the agreement were former baseball player Jeff Richards, who had two left feet, and juvenile actor Russ Tamblyn.

The Oregon mountains setting of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers seemed a natural to be filmed on location-especially since the action of the story transpired through all four seasons of one year. Stanley Donen desperately wanted to do this, but faced resistance from the studio. There simply wasn't the budget to shoot on location, MGM told him. What's more, if he wanted to get authentic footage of all four seasons in Oregon on film, it would take an entire year to accomplish. It was out of the question. MGM told him he would have to shoot the picture primarily on the MGM back lot which was a great disappointment for Donen.

Instead of using any extra money to allow Donen to shoot on location, MGM had a very different idea. Beginning in 1953 a new technical process was being used to make films called CinemaScope, a spectacular widescreen process that used anamorphic lenses. The process was quite new, but MGM wanted to make sure that they were taking advantage of every cinematic innovation. The only problem was that many theaters had not yet been equipped to show CinemaScope films. MGM's solution? Stanley Donen would have to shoot two different versions of the film: one in the CinemaScope aspect ratio 2:55, and one in the flat widescreen aspect ration of 1:77. For Donen, it would mean staging and shooting every scene twice, since the framing for each version would be different. There would be two separate negatives for each version. He would essentially have to shoot two different films under one limited budget. It was an enormous undertaking, but Donen was game. Under the new title Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (thought up by MGM head of advertising Howard Dietz), the musical version of The Sobbin' Women was ready for the cameras.

by Andrea Passafiume

The Big Idea - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

The source material for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was Stephen Vincent Benet's short story The Sobbin' Women originally published in the November 1938 issue of Argosy. The Sobbin' Women was itself a parody of an ancient Greek story as taken from Plutarch's Life of Romulus about the Sabine Women, who were abducted by Roman soldiers to be their brides. Benet's story updated the setting to the Oregon frontier of the 1850s and substituted the Roman men with seven rural brothers. Bringing the tale of The Sobbin' Women to the big screen had long been producer Jack Cummings' pet project. Cummings, the nephew of Louis B. Mayer, had produced several successful musicals for MGM including Easy to Wed (1946) and Kiss Me Kate (1953). Famed Broadway director Joshua Logan had already optioned the rights to Benet's story, however, with the intention of turning it into a stage musical. After five years passed and Logan had not made progress with The Sobbin' Women, his option was up and MGM quickly snapped up the rights to the story on Cummings' behalf for $40,000. Cummings immediately began to assemble a top rate team to work on the film version of The Sobbin' Women. He brought the husband and wife writing team of Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich along with Dorothy Kingsley to adapt the story into a workable screenplay. He then asked Stanley Donen to direct. Cummings and MGM had been impressed with Donen's previous work, which included Royal Wedding (1951), Singin' in the Rain (1952) and Give a Girl a Break (1953), and thought he would be the perfect person to bring The Sobbin' Women to life as a musical. Impressed with the screenplay, Donen was thrilled to take on the project. "The authors of the screenplay were really wonderful, bright, sharp, funny and really elegant in their construction and dialogue. I just think they're remarkable," said Donen in a 2004 interview. Despite their enthusiasm to bring The Sobbin' Women to the screen, MGM was partial to another musical film they had in production at the time: Brigadoon (1954), starring Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse. MGM saw Brigadoon as their "A" picture, and Seven Brides as a "B" picture. As a result, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was assigned an extremely tight budget, while MGM put the majority of their faith and money into Brigadoon. According to star Jane Powell, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers almost didn't even make it to the screen because of Brigadoon. "The studio," she writes in her 1988 autobiography The Girl Next Door and How She Grew, "was pouring all this money into Brigadoon and felt it couldn't afford to do two musical extravaganzas at once, so MGM bigwigs were going to drop it. But Jack Cummings, our producer, talked the studio into doing it. He offered to cut the budget, to economize in every way possible. He pleaded." MGM didn't want to spend any money for original songs to use in The Sobbin' Women. The studio management thought the film could use already existing American folk songs for musical numbers. Stanley Donen fought hard to get an original musical score and new songs for the film, which MGM finally conceded. Johnny Mercer was brought on board to write song lyrics. At first composer Harold Arlen was to collaborate with Mercer on the music, but Mercer rejected working with Arlen. "He's too picky about the words that go with his music," he explained. Eventually Mercer partnered successfully with Gene de Paul, and together they came up with several new inspired songs for the film including "Bless Your Beautiful Hide," "June Bride," and "Sobbin' Women." From the beginning, Stanley Donen knew that he wanted famed dancer and choreographer Michael Kidd to stage all of the musical numbers. "Michael Kidd was the choreographer to do this film," Donen said in a 2004 interview, "because his choreography was inventive, athletic, not classical ballet dancing, but dancing which is remarkable." The problem was that neither Kidd nor the studio could visualize seven rugged mountain men breaking into song and dance in a believable manner. In addition, Kidd was exhausted from doing a show in New York at the time and wanted to take a break. He told Stanley Donen that he didn't want to do the film. Donen, however, refused to take no for an answer. He convinced Kidd to at least listen to the songs for the film, and Kidd liked them. Still, Kidd couldn't see how dance numbers could be effectively worked into the story. "I said to Stanley and Saul Chaplin," recalled Kidd in a 2004 interview, "'I can't see any dancing in this picture. You got these seven slobs living out in the country. They got horse manure on the floor. They're unwashed. They're unshaven. They look terrible. These people are going to get up and dance? We'll be hooted out of the theater! It doesn't make any sense to me.'" With a little cajoling and eventually begging, Donen finally convinced Kidd to at least stage the movement of the musical numbers, even if he couldn't envision dancing. Before long, Kidd did see opportunities in the script for the brothers to be dancing. The musical numbers he eventually brought to life would turn out to be one of the film's biggest assets. When the time came to cast Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Donen called upon established musical stars Howard Keel (Show Boat [1951], Kiss Me Kate) and Jane Powell (A Date with Judy [1948], Royal Wedding) to play the leads, Adam and Milly. For Adam's six brothers, Michael Kidd told MGM that he wanted dancers for the parts. MGM responded that they didn't have dancers under contract at the studio-just actors. In the end, they compromised. MGM would let Kidd and Donen hire four dancers of their choice as long as they used two actors who were already under contract at MGM for the remaining Pontipee brothers. For the dancing brothers, Tommy Rall, Marc Platt, Matt Mattox, and New York City Ballet dancer Jacques d'Amboise were hired. Jack Cummings and Stanley Donen had been at a performance of the New York City Ballet in San Francisco when they saw d'Amboise perform and thought he would be perfect to play one of the brothers. With George Balanchine's blessing, d'Amboise was excused to work on the film. The non-dancing MGM actors chosen to play the other Pontipee brothers per the agreement were former baseball player Jeff Richards, who had two left feet, and juvenile actor Russ Tamblyn. The Oregon mountains setting of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers seemed a natural to be filmed on location-especially since the action of the story transpired through all four seasons of one year. Stanley Donen desperately wanted to do this, but faced resistance from the studio. There simply wasn't the budget to shoot on location, MGM told him. What's more, if he wanted to get authentic footage of all four seasons in Oregon on film, it would take an entire year to accomplish. It was out of the question. MGM told him he would have to shoot the picture primarily on the MGM back lot which was a great disappointment for Donen. Instead of using any extra money to allow Donen to shoot on location, MGM had a very different idea. Beginning in 1953 a new technical process was being used to make films called CinemaScope, a spectacular widescreen process that used anamorphic lenses. The process was quite new, but MGM wanted to make sure that they were taking advantage of every cinematic innovation. The only problem was that many theaters had not yet been equipped to show CinemaScope films. MGM's solution? Stanley Donen would have to shoot two different versions of the film: one in the CinemaScope aspect ratio 2:55, and one in the flat widescreen aspect ration of 1:77. For Donen, it would mean staging and shooting every scene twice, since the framing for each version would be different. There would be two separate negatives for each version. He would essentially have to shoot two different films under one limited budget. It was an enormous undertaking, but Donen was game. Under the new title Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (thought up by MGM head of advertising Howard Dietz), the musical version of The Sobbin' Women was ready for the cameras. by Andrea Passafiume

Behind the Camera - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers


Shooting got off to an auspicious start on Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in November of 1953 at MGM. Despite the extra work that shooting two different versions created, the cast had a marvelous time and Stanley Donen embraced the challenge of CinemaScope. He thought that with seven brides and seven brothers, the story itself lent itself perfectly to the medium since so many characters often had to be onscreen at the same time. He utilized every inch of the frame to maximize the visual impact of the new technology. The studio, who was being extremely tight with the budget, wound up having to put more money into the production anyway, despite trying to cut every corner. "I had to shoot and cut everything twice-restage scenes, put in a different set of marks, light it differently, loop it," said Stanley Donen. "We had two cutting rooms going, and it cost the studio another $500,000, which was a lot for then."

For the famous barn raising dance sequence, which many consider the highlight of the film, the cast rehearsed for three weeks in order to get the intricate choreography down. It was during one of these rehearsals that Russ Tamblyn, one of the non-dancers hired to play Gideon Pontipee, wandered over to the set along with co-star Jeff Richards to see how the scene was coming along. "Michael Kidd called me over and said, 'Rusty, somebody told me that you're a good tumbler, that you can do some flips'," said Tamblyn in a 2004 interview. "So I did a back flip for him. 'Fantastic!' he said. 'We'll put it in a number.' I told him I really wasn't a dancer, except for some tap dancing. But he said, 'Listen, this is just like square dancing. All you have to do is lift your legs high. You can do a lot of acrobatic stuff. It's perfect.' That's how I became a dancer in Seven Brides."

Though Howard Keel was happy with most of the production, he disagreed on two points in reference to his character. He first objected to Adam reprising the song "When You're in Love" after Milly first sings it. He felt it didn't work because Adam at that point in the film couldn't possibly understand what love was all about. Secondly, he objected to singing a soliloquy number when he's holed up by himself in the winter cabin. It was, Keel felt, too similar to the soliloquy from the musical Carousel. As a result of these disagreements, the original two writers Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich walked off the picture. The third writer, Dorothy Kingsley, took over. "I'm sorry about the original script writers walking away," Keel says in his autobiography, "but I think I was right, and Jack Cummings agreed with me."

When Seven Brides for Seven Brothers premiered in the summer of 1954, its blockbuster success surprised everyone-especially MGM who was expecting a modest hit at best. Instead, it became one of the top box office hits of the year and was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. What's more is that Seven Brides outperformed the more expensive Brigadoon. "Seven Brides was a big hit, a real sleeper, and Brigadoon seemed to disappear," says Jane Powell in her 1988 autobiography. "We all felt pretty smug about that." For director Stanley Donen, the film's success marked a turning point in his career. He proved that he could pull off a top-notch musical all by himself.

While Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was a career peak for musical veterans Howard Keel and Jane Powell, the film marked the real beginning for young Russ Tamblyn's career. Tamblyn's charm along with his show-stopping acrobatics in the barn raising sequence made people everywhere sit up and take notice. Tamblyn, who had not been expected to dance one step in the film, was now known the world over as a hoofer as well as an actor. "After Seven Brides was released," said Tamblyn, "my career really took off. Dance magazine photographed me for their cover and, suddenly, I was known as a dancer." Star Howard Keel saw it coming. "Russ Tamblyn as Gideon was undeniably the most effective Pontipee," he says in his autobiography. "Wherever he was, you couldn't take your eyes off him."

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers went on to become a musical classic. It was a joyous experience for all to make. Howard Keel called the film, "one of my happiest filmmaking experiences at Metro Goldwyn Mayer." "The cast was magnificent, and the chemistry irresistible," he says in his autobiography. "Jack Cummings had his stamp on the whole picture. Jane Powell, as Milly, was perfect, and I loved working with her. She was cute and persnickety and a multi-talented pro...It truly was one big happy family." Stanley Donen always saw this film as one of his fondest memories as well as was quick to always point out the enormous contribution by choreographer Michael Kidd to the overall success of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. "I enjoyed Kidd enormously," said Donen. "His contribution to the film was gigantic."

by Andrea Passafiume

Behind the Camera - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Shooting got off to an auspicious start on Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in November of 1953 at MGM. Despite the extra work that shooting two different versions created, the cast had a marvelous time and Stanley Donen embraced the challenge of CinemaScope. He thought that with seven brides and seven brothers, the story itself lent itself perfectly to the medium since so many characters often had to be onscreen at the same time. He utilized every inch of the frame to maximize the visual impact of the new technology. The studio, who was being extremely tight with the budget, wound up having to put more money into the production anyway, despite trying to cut every corner. "I had to shoot and cut everything twice-restage scenes, put in a different set of marks, light it differently, loop it," said Stanley Donen. "We had two cutting rooms going, and it cost the studio another $500,000, which was a lot for then." For the famous barn raising dance sequence, which many consider the highlight of the film, the cast rehearsed for three weeks in order to get the intricate choreography down. It was during one of these rehearsals that Russ Tamblyn, one of the non-dancers hired to play Gideon Pontipee, wandered over to the set along with co-star Jeff Richards to see how the scene was coming along. "Michael Kidd called me over and said, 'Rusty, somebody told me that you're a good tumbler, that you can do some flips'," said Tamblyn in a 2004 interview. "So I did a back flip for him. 'Fantastic!' he said. 'We'll put it in a number.' I told him I really wasn't a dancer, except for some tap dancing. But he said, 'Listen, this is just like square dancing. All you have to do is lift your legs high. You can do a lot of acrobatic stuff. It's perfect.' That's how I became a dancer in Seven Brides." Though Howard Keel was happy with most of the production, he disagreed on two points in reference to his character. He first objected to Adam reprising the song "When You're in Love" after Milly first sings it. He felt it didn't work because Adam at that point in the film couldn't possibly understand what love was all about. Secondly, he objected to singing a soliloquy number when he's holed up by himself in the winter cabin. It was, Keel felt, too similar to the soliloquy from the musical Carousel. As a result of these disagreements, the original two writers Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich walked off the picture. The third writer, Dorothy Kingsley, took over. "I'm sorry about the original script writers walking away," Keel says in his autobiography, "but I think I was right, and Jack Cummings agreed with me." When Seven Brides for Seven Brothers premiered in the summer of 1954, its blockbuster success surprised everyone-especially MGM who was expecting a modest hit at best. Instead, it became one of the top box office hits of the year and was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. What's more is that Seven Brides outperformed the more expensive Brigadoon. "Seven Brides was a big hit, a real sleeper, and Brigadoon seemed to disappear," says Jane Powell in her 1988 autobiography. "We all felt pretty smug about that." For director Stanley Donen, the film's success marked a turning point in his career. He proved that he could pull off a top-notch musical all by himself. While Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was a career peak for musical veterans Howard Keel and Jane Powell, the film marked the real beginning for young Russ Tamblyn's career. Tamblyn's charm along with his show-stopping acrobatics in the barn raising sequence made people everywhere sit up and take notice. Tamblyn, who had not been expected to dance one step in the film, was now known the world over as a hoofer as well as an actor. "After Seven Brides was released," said Tamblyn, "my career really took off. Dance magazine photographed me for their cover and, suddenly, I was known as a dancer." Star Howard Keel saw it coming. "Russ Tamblyn as Gideon was undeniably the most effective Pontipee," he says in his autobiography. "Wherever he was, you couldn't take your eyes off him." Seven Brides for Seven Brothers went on to become a musical classic. It was a joyous experience for all to make. Howard Keel called the film, "one of my happiest filmmaking experiences at Metro Goldwyn Mayer." "The cast was magnificent, and the chemistry irresistible," he says in his autobiography. "Jack Cummings had his stamp on the whole picture. Jane Powell, as Milly, was perfect, and I loved working with her. She was cute and persnickety and a multi-talented pro...It truly was one big happy family." Stanley Donen always saw this film as one of his fondest memories as well as was quick to always point out the enormous contribution by choreographer Michael Kidd to the overall success of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. "I enjoyed Kidd enormously," said Donen. "His contribution to the film was gigantic." by Andrea Passafiume

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers


Saul Chaplin and Adolph Deutsch won Oscars® for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture for the sprightly score of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954). This MGM musical is based on the Stephen Vincent Benet story about a family of Oregon backwoodsmen who abduct a collection of not-entirely-unwilling maidens for purposes of marriage. Chaplin and Deutsch, who remained faithful to the movie's frontier spirit by favoring banjos, accordions and harmonicas in their orchestrations, had some great source material in the collection of witty and rousing songs created by composer Gene de Paul and lyricist Johnny Mercer. Among the outstanding numbers are "Goin' Courtin'," in which Jane Powell, as the wife of the eldest brother (Howard Keel), instructs her brothers-in-law in the ways of wooing; "Lament (I'm a Lonesome Polecat)," in which the boys give voice to their lovesickness; and "Sobbin' Women," in which Keel gets his brothers fired up for the kidnapping by relating the story of the rape of Sabine women by Roman soldiers.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was nominated in four other categories: Best Picture, Color Cinematography, Film Editing and Screenplay. Although they lost in the latter category, Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett and Dorothy Kingsley did share a Writers Guild of America award for Best Written American Musical. The movie proved a box-office smash (later becoming a perennial hit in revivals and on television, and spawning a stage version that also starred Powell and Keel). It won glowing critical notices, including Time magazine's claim that "It's the liltingest bit of tunesome lolly-gagging to hit the screen since An American in Paris," and appeared on almost every major "10 Best" list of its year. Director Stanley Donen's concept, with musical numbers developing from and advancing the plot, won favorable comparisons to the groundbreaking stage musical Oklahoma! (which would be filmed the following year). Michael Kidd's spirited and inventive choreography was singled out for special praise.

The attention and adulation heaped upon Seven Brides for Seven Brothers came as a major shock to MGM, which had relegated this film to a relatively low budget and back-lot shooting while lavishing a great deal more time, effort and expense that year on such other musicals as Rose Marie, Brigadoon and Jupiter's Darling. The Best Picture Oscar nomination was a particular distinction. During the 1940s and 1950s, generally considered the Golden Age of the Movie Musical, only three others of that genre from MGM earned such recognition: Anchors Aweigh (nominee, 1945), An American in Paris (winner, 1951) and Gigi (winner, 1958).

Director: Stanley Donen
Producer: Jack Cummings
Screenwriter: Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Dorothy Kingsley
Cinematogapher: George Folsey
Composer: Saul Chaplin
Editor: Ralph Winters
Art Director: Cedric Gibbons, Urie McCleary
Songwriter: Gene de Paul, Johnny Mercer
Costume Designer: Walter Plunkett
Cast: Howard Keel (Adam Pontabee), Jane Powell (Milly Pontabee), Jeff Richards (Benjamin Pontabee), Russ Tamblyn (Gideon Pontabee), Tommy Rall (Frank Pontabee), Marc Platt (Daniel Pontabee), Julie Newmar (Dorcas), Ruta Lee (Ruth Jackson), Virginia Gibson (Liza).
C-103m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video.

by Roger Fristoe

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Saul Chaplin and Adolph Deutsch won Oscars® for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture for the sprightly score of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954). This MGM musical is based on the Stephen Vincent Benet story about a family of Oregon backwoodsmen who abduct a collection of not-entirely-unwilling maidens for purposes of marriage. Chaplin and Deutsch, who remained faithful to the movie's frontier spirit by favoring banjos, accordions and harmonicas in their orchestrations, had some great source material in the collection of witty and rousing songs created by composer Gene de Paul and lyricist Johnny Mercer. Among the outstanding numbers are "Goin' Courtin'," in which Jane Powell, as the wife of the eldest brother (Howard Keel), instructs her brothers-in-law in the ways of wooing; "Lament (I'm a Lonesome Polecat)," in which the boys give voice to their lovesickness; and "Sobbin' Women," in which Keel gets his brothers fired up for the kidnapping by relating the story of the rape of Sabine women by Roman soldiers. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was nominated in four other categories: Best Picture, Color Cinematography, Film Editing and Screenplay. Although they lost in the latter category, Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett and Dorothy Kingsley did share a Writers Guild of America award for Best Written American Musical. The movie proved a box-office smash (later becoming a perennial hit in revivals and on television, and spawning a stage version that also starred Powell and Keel). It won glowing critical notices, including Time magazine's claim that "It's the liltingest bit of tunesome lolly-gagging to hit the screen since An American in Paris," and appeared on almost every major "10 Best" list of its year. Director Stanley Donen's concept, with musical numbers developing from and advancing the plot, won favorable comparisons to the groundbreaking stage musical Oklahoma! (which would be filmed the following year). Michael Kidd's spirited and inventive choreography was singled out for special praise. The attention and adulation heaped upon Seven Brides for Seven Brothers came as a major shock to MGM, which had relegated this film to a relatively low budget and back-lot shooting while lavishing a great deal more time, effort and expense that year on such other musicals as Rose Marie, Brigadoon and Jupiter's Darling. The Best Picture Oscar nomination was a particular distinction. During the 1940s and 1950s, generally considered the Golden Age of the Movie Musical, only three others of that genre from MGM earned such recognition: Anchors Aweigh (nominee, 1945), An American in Paris (winner, 1951) and Gigi (winner, 1958). Director: Stanley Donen Producer: Jack Cummings Screenwriter: Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Dorothy Kingsley Cinematogapher: George Folsey Composer: Saul Chaplin Editor: Ralph Winters Art Director: Cedric Gibbons, Urie McCleary Songwriter: Gene de Paul, Johnny Mercer Costume Designer: Walter Plunkett Cast: Howard Keel (Adam Pontabee), Jane Powell (Milly Pontabee), Jeff Richards (Benjamin Pontabee), Russ Tamblyn (Gideon Pontabee), Tommy Rall (Frank Pontabee), Marc Platt (Daniel Pontabee), Julie Newmar (Dorcas), Ruta Lee (Ruth Jackson), Virginia Gibson (Liza). C-103m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video. by Roger Fristoe

Critics' Corner - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers


AWARDS AND HONORS

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was nominated for five Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Musical Score, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, and Best Original Screenplay. It won one for Best Musical Score.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was nominated for a BAFTA Award as Best Picture.

Stanley Donen received a nomination from the Directors Guild of America as Best Director for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was selected for preservation into the National Film Registry in 1994.

Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich and Dorothy Kingsley won a Writers Guild of America award for Best Screenplay for their work on Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

In 2006 the American Film Institute named Seven Brides for Seven Brothers as the number 21 Greatest Movie Musical of All Time.

The Critics' Corner: SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS (1954)

"..an inventive musical with enormous zest...Donen's intelligent use of the Cinemascope screen, at that time still an innovation, was especially notable in the dance sequences, all of which were neatly integrated into the plot."
- The Oxford Companion to Film

"Disappointingly studio-bound Western musical distinguished by an excellent score and some brilliant dancing, notably the barn-raising sequence."
- Halliwell's Film & Video Guide

"...this rather archly symmetrical movie musical is best seen as a dance-fest, with Michael Kidd's acrobatic, pas d'action choreography well complemented by ex-choreographer Donen's camera....Keel, avoiding even the odd faked toe-step, is at his least expressive, but it's vigorous and colourful if you can watch the Anscocolor process which also marred Brigadoon."
- W. Stephen Gilbert, TimeOut Film Guide

"...It's marred by a holiday family-picture heartiness - the M-G-M back-lot Americana gets rather thick...The picture is ambitious in its use of dance, and was unusual in that it features male dancers...who are most memorable in the "Lonesome Polecat" ballet in the snow."
- Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies

"Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is a fanciful romp which succeeds because of its perfect blending of story, dance, and music. The songs and dances not only compliment the story, but they also actually move it along."
– Magill's Survey of Cinema

"...historic for being the first completely successful marriage of ballet and movie comedy."
- The Hollywood Reporter

"...the liltingest bit of tunesome lollygagging to hit the screen since the same studio brought forth An American in Paris [1951]."
- Time

"This is a happy, hand-clapping, foot-stomping country type of musical with all the slickness of a Broadway show. Johnny Mercer and Gene de Paul provide the slick, showy production with eight songs, all of which jibe perfectly with the folksy, hillbilly air maintained in the picture. Howard Keel's robust baritone and Jane Powell's lilting soprano make their songs extremely listenable. A real standout is the acrobatic hoedown staged around a barn-raising shindig, during which six of the title's seven brothers vie in love rivalry with the town boys for the favor of the mountain belles...The long and the short of the teaming of Keel and Powell is that the pairing comes off very satisfactorily, vocally and otherwise. The brothers are all good, with Russ Tamblyn standing out in particular for performance and his dance work."
- Variety

"Rollicking musical perfectly integrates song, dance, and story...Tuneful Johnny Mercer-Gene de Paul score (with Oscar-winning musical direction by Adolph Deutsch and Saul Chaplin), but it's Michael Kidd's energetic dance numbers that really stand out, with rare screen work by dancers Jacques d'Amboise and Marc Platt. The barn-raising sequence is an absolute knockout."
- Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide

Compiled by Andrea Passafiume

Critics' Corner - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

AWARDS AND HONORS Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was nominated for five Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Musical Score, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, and Best Original Screenplay. It won one for Best Musical Score. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was nominated for a BAFTA Award as Best Picture. Stanley Donen received a nomination from the Directors Guild of America as Best Director for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was selected for preservation into the National Film Registry in 1994. Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich and Dorothy Kingsley won a Writers Guild of America award for Best Screenplay for their work on Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. In 2006 the American Film Institute named Seven Brides for Seven Brothers as the number 21 Greatest Movie Musical of All Time. The Critics' Corner: SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS (1954) "..an inventive musical with enormous zest...Donen's intelligent use of the Cinemascope screen, at that time still an innovation, was especially notable in the dance sequences, all of which were neatly integrated into the plot." - The Oxford Companion to Film "Disappointingly studio-bound Western musical distinguished by an excellent score and some brilliant dancing, notably the barn-raising sequence." - Halliwell's Film & Video Guide "...this rather archly symmetrical movie musical is best seen as a dance-fest, with Michael Kidd's acrobatic, pas d'action choreography well complemented by ex-choreographer Donen's camera....Keel, avoiding even the odd faked toe-step, is at his least expressive, but it's vigorous and colourful if you can watch the Anscocolor process which also marred Brigadoon." - W. Stephen Gilbert, TimeOut Film Guide "...It's marred by a holiday family-picture heartiness - the M-G-M back-lot Americana gets rather thick...The picture is ambitious in its use of dance, and was unusual in that it features male dancers...who are most memorable in the "Lonesome Polecat" ballet in the snow." - Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is a fanciful romp which succeeds because of its perfect blending of story, dance, and music. The songs and dances not only compliment the story, but they also actually move it along." – Magill's Survey of Cinema "...historic for being the first completely successful marriage of ballet and movie comedy." - The Hollywood Reporter "...the liltingest bit of tunesome lollygagging to hit the screen since the same studio brought forth An American in Paris [1951]." - Time "This is a happy, hand-clapping, foot-stomping country type of musical with all the slickness of a Broadway show. Johnny Mercer and Gene de Paul provide the slick, showy production with eight songs, all of which jibe perfectly with the folksy, hillbilly air maintained in the picture. Howard Keel's robust baritone and Jane Powell's lilting soprano make their songs extremely listenable. A real standout is the acrobatic hoedown staged around a barn-raising shindig, during which six of the title's seven brothers vie in love rivalry with the town boys for the favor of the mountain belles...The long and the short of the teaming of Keel and Powell is that the pairing comes off very satisfactorily, vocally and otherwise. The brothers are all good, with Russ Tamblyn standing out in particular for performance and his dance work." - Variety "Rollicking musical perfectly integrates song, dance, and story...Tuneful Johnny Mercer-Gene de Paul score (with Oscar-winning musical direction by Adolph Deutsch and Saul Chaplin), but it's Michael Kidd's energetic dance numbers that really stand out, with rare screen work by dancers Jacques d'Amboise and Marc Platt. The barn-raising sequence is an absolute knockout." - Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide Compiled by Andrea Passafiume

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (2-disc Special Edition)


DVD buyers have gotten used to the fact that if they're patient a "special edition" of their favorite film will probably come along after a first no-frills DVD release of it. That's certainly the case with Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, originally released on DVD by Warner Video, but now available in a deluxe 2-disc edition that really justifies the investment. For one thing, the new transfer is a vast improvement over the first one which was overly grainy and riddled with minor but noticable defects. But before we get into the details, here's a quick refresher course on this award winner.

Saul Chaplin and Adolph Deutsch won Oscars® for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture for the sprightly score of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954). This MGM musical is based on the Stephen Vincent Benet story about a family of Oregon backwoodsmen who abduct a collection of not-entirely-unwilling maidens for purposes of marriage. Chaplin and Deutsch, who remained faithful to the movie's frontier spirit by favoring banjos, accordions and harmonicas in their orchestrations, had some great source material in the collection of witty and rousing songs created by composer Gene de Paul and lyricist Johnny Mercer. Among the outstanding numbers are "Goin' Courtin'," in which Jane Powell, as the wife of the eldest brother (Howard Keel), instructs her brothers-in-law in the ways of wooing; "Lament (I'm a Lonesome Polecat)," in which the boys give voice to their lovesickness; and "Sobbin' Women," in which Keel gets his brothers fired up for the kidnapping by relating the story of the rape of Sabine women by Roman soldiers.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was nominated in four other categories: Best Picture, Color Cinematography, Film Editing and Screenplay. Although they lost in the latter category, Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett and Dorothy Kingsley did share a Writers Guild of America award for Best Written American Musical. The movie proved a box-office smash (later becoming a perennial hit in revivals and on television, and spawning a stage version that also starred Powell and Keel). It won glowing critical notices, including Time magazine's claim that "It's the liltingest bit of tunesome lolly-gagging to hit the screen since An American in Paris," and appeared on almost every major "10 Best" list of its year. Director Stanley Donen's concept, with musical numbers developing from and advancing the plot, won favorable comparisons to the groundbreaking stage musical Oklahoma! (which would be filmed the following year). Michael Kidd's spirited and inventive choreography was singled out for special praise.

The attention and adulation heaped upon Seven Brides for Seven Brothers came as a major shock to MGM, which had relegated this film to a relatively low budget and back-lot shooting while lavishing a great deal more time, effort and expense that year on such other musicals as Rose Marie, Brigadoon and Jupiter's Darling. The Best Picture Oscar® nomination was a particular distinction. During the 1940s and 1950s, generally considered the Golden Age of the Movie Musical, only three others of that genre from MGM earned such recognition: Anchors Aweigh (nominee, 1945), An American in Paris (winner, 1951) and Gigi (winner, 1958).

One fascinating aspect of the new special edition of Seven Brides is that disc 2 features the rarely seen alternate widescreen version of the film. It also includes a highly entertaining documentary on the film, "Sobbin' Women: The Making of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" (hosted by Howard Keel), newsreel footage on both the 1954 premiere and MGM's 30th anniversary celebration, and a musical short (MGM Jubilee Overture) that includes an 11-song set performed by Johnny Green and the MGM Orchestra.

The first disc, of course, features the sparkling new transfer of the original theatrical release along with director Stanley Donan's always "candid" commentary. This is not a wall-to-wall audio track in which the participant never takes a breath or pauses for reflection. Instead, you'll encounter several lengthy pauses in Donen's commentary and there are times when he simply prefers to sing along with the cast members or repeat the dialogue. But there's choice information here, from addressing the rumor of Howard Keel requesting that Donen be fired from the film to stories about the film's artificial sets which confused the live animals used in the movie.

For more information about the special edition of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, visit Warner Video. To order Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, go to TCM Shopping.

by Roger Fristoe

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (2-disc Special Edition)

DVD buyers have gotten used to the fact that if they're patient a "special edition" of their favorite film will probably come along after a first no-frills DVD release of it. That's certainly the case with Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, originally released on DVD by Warner Video, but now available in a deluxe 2-disc edition that really justifies the investment. For one thing, the new transfer is a vast improvement over the first one which was overly grainy and riddled with minor but noticable defects. But before we get into the details, here's a quick refresher course on this award winner. Saul Chaplin and Adolph Deutsch won Oscars® for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture for the sprightly score of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954). This MGM musical is based on the Stephen Vincent Benet story about a family of Oregon backwoodsmen who abduct a collection of not-entirely-unwilling maidens for purposes of marriage. Chaplin and Deutsch, who remained faithful to the movie's frontier spirit by favoring banjos, accordions and harmonicas in their orchestrations, had some great source material in the collection of witty and rousing songs created by composer Gene de Paul and lyricist Johnny Mercer. Among the outstanding numbers are "Goin' Courtin'," in which Jane Powell, as the wife of the eldest brother (Howard Keel), instructs her brothers-in-law in the ways of wooing; "Lament (I'm a Lonesome Polecat)," in which the boys give voice to their lovesickness; and "Sobbin' Women," in which Keel gets his brothers fired up for the kidnapping by relating the story of the rape of Sabine women by Roman soldiers. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was nominated in four other categories: Best Picture, Color Cinematography, Film Editing and Screenplay. Although they lost in the latter category, Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett and Dorothy Kingsley did share a Writers Guild of America award for Best Written American Musical. The movie proved a box-office smash (later becoming a perennial hit in revivals and on television, and spawning a stage version that also starred Powell and Keel). It won glowing critical notices, including Time magazine's claim that "It's the liltingest bit of tunesome lolly-gagging to hit the screen since An American in Paris," and appeared on almost every major "10 Best" list of its year. Director Stanley Donen's concept, with musical numbers developing from and advancing the plot, won favorable comparisons to the groundbreaking stage musical Oklahoma! (which would be filmed the following year). Michael Kidd's spirited and inventive choreography was singled out for special praise. The attention and adulation heaped upon Seven Brides for Seven Brothers came as a major shock to MGM, which had relegated this film to a relatively low budget and back-lot shooting while lavishing a great deal more time, effort and expense that year on such other musicals as Rose Marie, Brigadoon and Jupiter's Darling. The Best Picture Oscar® nomination was a particular distinction. During the 1940s and 1950s, generally considered the Golden Age of the Movie Musical, only three others of that genre from MGM earned such recognition: Anchors Aweigh (nominee, 1945), An American in Paris (winner, 1951) and Gigi (winner, 1958). One fascinating aspect of the new special edition of Seven Brides is that disc 2 features the rarely seen alternate widescreen version of the film. It also includes a highly entertaining documentary on the film, "Sobbin' Women: The Making of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" (hosted by Howard Keel), newsreel footage on both the 1954 premiere and MGM's 30th anniversary celebration, and a musical short (MGM Jubilee Overture) that includes an 11-song set performed by Johnny Green and the MGM Orchestra. The first disc, of course, features the sparkling new transfer of the original theatrical release along with director Stanley Donan's always "candid" commentary. This is not a wall-to-wall audio track in which the participant never takes a breath or pauses for reflection. Instead, you'll encounter several lengthy pauses in Donen's commentary and there are times when he simply prefers to sing along with the cast members or repeat the dialogue. But there's choice information here, from addressing the rumor of Howard Keel requesting that Donen be fired from the film to stories about the film's artificial sets which confused the live animals used in the movie. For more information about the special edition of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, visit Warner Video. To order Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, go to TCM Shopping. by Roger Fristoe

TCM Remembers Howard Keel this Monday, Nov. 15th

PLEASE NOTE SCHEDULE CHANGE


TCM will air the following films featuring the late actor Howard Keel this Monday, November 15th :

6:00 AM
Callaway Went Thataway (1951)

7:30 AM
Ride, Vaquero! (1953)

9:30 AM
War Wagon (1967)

11:30 AM
"MGM Parade Show #14"
(Keel talks with George Murphy about his latest MGM picture "Kismet")(1955)

12:00 PM
Showboat (1951)

2:00 PM
Kiss Me Kate (1953)

4:00 PM
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)

6:00 PM
Kismet (1955)

HOWARD KEEL (1919-2004):

Howard Keel, the strapping singer and actor whose glorious baritone took him to stardom in the early '50s in some of MGM's best musicals, including Showboat, Kiss Me Kate and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, died on November 7 of colon cancer at his home in Palm Desert, California. He was 85.

He was born Harry Clifford Leek on April 13, 1919, in Gillespie, Illinois. His father, was a coal miner and his mother, a strict Methodist, forbid the children from enjoying popular entertainments. When his dad died, his mother relocated the family to California when Harry was still a young teenager.

After he graduated high school, Keel had a brief stint as a singing busboy, but had not considered a professional career as a vocalist....until one fateful evening in 1939. It was at this time he saw celebrated opera singer, Lawrence Tibbett, at the Hollywood Bowl. Keel was inspired, and he soon began taking voice lessons. Over the next several years, he carefully trained his voice while entering any singing contest he could find. It wasn't long before his talents caught the attention of Rodgers & Hammerstein.

In 1946, they signed him to replace John Raitt in the Broadway production of Carousel, changed his name to Howard Keel (His proper surname Leek spelled backwards), and Keel was on his way to international stardom.

After his run in Carousel ended, he sailed to London the following year to play the role of Curley in Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma. He received rave reviews from the London press, and by the time he returned to the United States in 1948, he was ready to make his move into films.

Keel made his movie debut in the British thriller, The Small Voice (1948), but it would be his second film, and first for MGM, portraying Frank Butler, Betty Hutton's leading man in Annie Get Your Gun (1950), that sealed his success. Keel's several strengths as a performer: his supple, commanding singing voice; his athletic, 6'4" frame; striking, "matinee-idol" good looks; and his good humored personality made him one of the studios' top leading men over the next few years. Indeed, between 1951-55, Keel could do not wrong with the material he was given: Show Boat (1951), Lovely to Look at (1952), Kiss Me Kate (1953), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), and Kismet (1955). Clearly, he was a shining star in this golden era of the MGM musical.

By the late '50s, movie musicals began to fade out of fashion, but Keel returned to the stage and had success performing with several touring companies. He made a brief return to films when he was cast as a seaman battling carnivorous plants from outer space in the popular British sci-fi hit, The Day of the Triffids (1962). Television also provided some work, where he guest starred in some of the more popular shows in the late '60s including Run For Your Life, and The Lucy Show.

Keel would keep a low profile over the next decade, but he made an amazing comeback in 1981, when he was cast as Clayton Farlow, Ellie Ewing's (Barbara Bel Geddes) second husband in the wildly successful prime time soap, Dallas. Not only did he play the role for ten seasons, but Keel would also be in demand for many other shows throughout the '80s and '90s: The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Murder, She Wrote, Hart to Hart, and Walker, Texas Ranger, to name a but a few. By the late-'90s, Keel retired to his home in Palm Desert, California, where still made public appearances now and again for a tribute or benefit. He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Judy; a son, Gunnar; daughters, Kaija, Kristina and Leslie; 10 grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter.

by Michael T. Toole

Important Milestones on Howard Keel:

1933:
Moved to Southern California at age 16 (date approximate)
Worked as a singing busboy in a Los Angeles cafe
Worked for Douglas Aircraft as a manufacturing representative travelling among various company plants; work included singing; won a first prize award at the Mississippi Valley while on the road; also won an award at the Chicago Music Festival
Began singing career with the American Music Theatre in Pasadena, California
Chosen by Oscar Hammerstein II to perform on Broadway in "Carousel"; succeeded John Raitt in the leading role of Billy Bigelow; also took over the leading role of Curly in "Oklahoma"

1947:
Recreated the role of Curly when he opened the London stage production of "Oklahoma"

1948:
Made feature film debut in a non-singing supporting role in the British crime drama, "The Small Voice"

1950:
Signed by MGM; became instant star as the male lead of "Annie Get Your Gun"

1951:
Provided the offscreen narration for the Western saga, "Across the Wide Missouri", starring Clark Gable

1951:
First film opposite Kathryn Grayson, "Show Boat"

1952:
First leading role in a non-musical, "Desperate Search"

1954:
Made best-remembered film, "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers"

1955:
Last musical starring roles, and last musicals for MGM, "Jupiter's Darling" and "Kismet"

1958:
Went to Britain to play the leading role in the action drama, "Floods of Fear"

1967:
Last leading role, "Red Tomahawk"

1968:
Last feature film appearance for over 20 years, "Arizona Bushwhackers"
Starred on the London stage in the musical "Ambassador"; later brought the role to Broadway (date approximate)
Toured the nightclub circuit, sometimes teaming up with his co-star from three MGM musicals of the 1950s, Kathryn Grayson
Toured in stage productions of musicals and comedies including "Camelot", "Man of La Mancha", "Paint Your Wagon", "I Do! I Do!", "Plaza Suite", "Gigi", "Show Boat", "Kismet", "The Most Happy Fella" and "The Fantasticks"

1977:
Teamed with Jane Powell on record-breaking national theater tour of "South Pacific"

1978:
Reprised screen role of eldest brother Adam in a touring stage version of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers", opposite original screen co-star Jane Powell
Joined the cast of the CBS primetime serial drama, "Dallas", which had premiered in 1978; played Clayton Farlow

1983:
Recorded first solo album, "And I Love You So"

1994:
Was one of the hosts of the feature compilation documentary, "That's Entertainment III", revisiting the MGM musical from the coming of sound through the late 1950s

Keel was President of the Screen Actors Guild from 1958-1959.

TCM Remembers Howard Keel this Monday, Nov. 15th PLEASE NOTE SCHEDULE CHANGE

TCM will air the following films featuring the late actor Howard Keel this Monday, November 15th : 6:00 AM Callaway Went Thataway (1951) 7:30 AM Ride, Vaquero! (1953) 9:30 AM War Wagon (1967) 11:30 AM "MGM Parade Show #14" (Keel talks with George Murphy about his latest MGM picture "Kismet")(1955) 12:00 PM Showboat (1951) 2:00 PM Kiss Me Kate (1953) 4:00 PM Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) 6:00 PM Kismet (1955) HOWARD KEEL (1919-2004): Howard Keel, the strapping singer and actor whose glorious baritone took him to stardom in the early '50s in some of MGM's best musicals, including Showboat, Kiss Me Kate and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, died on November 7 of colon cancer at his home in Palm Desert, California. He was 85. He was born Harry Clifford Leek on April 13, 1919, in Gillespie, Illinois. His father, was a coal miner and his mother, a strict Methodist, forbid the children from enjoying popular entertainments. When his dad died, his mother relocated the family to California when Harry was still a young teenager. After he graduated high school, Keel had a brief stint as a singing busboy, but had not considered a professional career as a vocalist....until one fateful evening in 1939. It was at this time he saw celebrated opera singer, Lawrence Tibbett, at the Hollywood Bowl. Keel was inspired, and he soon began taking voice lessons. Over the next several years, he carefully trained his voice while entering any singing contest he could find. It wasn't long before his talents caught the attention of Rodgers & Hammerstein. In 1946, they signed him to replace John Raitt in the Broadway production of Carousel, changed his name to Howard Keel (His proper surname Leek spelled backwards), and Keel was on his way to international stardom. After his run in Carousel ended, he sailed to London the following year to play the role of Curley in Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma. He received rave reviews from the London press, and by the time he returned to the United States in 1948, he was ready to make his move into films. Keel made his movie debut in the British thriller, The Small Voice (1948), but it would be his second film, and first for MGM, portraying Frank Butler, Betty Hutton's leading man in Annie Get Your Gun (1950), that sealed his success. Keel's several strengths as a performer: his supple, commanding singing voice; his athletic, 6'4" frame; striking, "matinee-idol" good looks; and his good humored personality made him one of the studios' top leading men over the next few years. Indeed, between 1951-55, Keel could do not wrong with the material he was given: Show Boat (1951), Lovely to Look at (1952), Kiss Me Kate (1953), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), and Kismet (1955). Clearly, he was a shining star in this golden era of the MGM musical. By the late '50s, movie musicals began to fade out of fashion, but Keel returned to the stage and had success performing with several touring companies. He made a brief return to films when he was cast as a seaman battling carnivorous plants from outer space in the popular British sci-fi hit, The Day of the Triffids (1962). Television also provided some work, where he guest starred in some of the more popular shows in the late '60s including Run For Your Life, and The Lucy Show. Keel would keep a low profile over the next decade, but he made an amazing comeback in 1981, when he was cast as Clayton Farlow, Ellie Ewing's (Barbara Bel Geddes) second husband in the wildly successful prime time soap, Dallas. Not only did he play the role for ten seasons, but Keel would also be in demand for many other shows throughout the '80s and '90s: The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Murder, She Wrote, Hart to Hart, and Walker, Texas Ranger, to name a but a few. By the late-'90s, Keel retired to his home in Palm Desert, California, where still made public appearances now and again for a tribute or benefit. He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Judy; a son, Gunnar; daughters, Kaija, Kristina and Leslie; 10 grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter. by Michael T. Toole Important Milestones on Howard Keel: 1933: Moved to Southern California at age 16 (date approximate) Worked as a singing busboy in a Los Angeles cafe Worked for Douglas Aircraft as a manufacturing representative travelling among various company plants; work included singing; won a first prize award at the Mississippi Valley while on the road; also won an award at the Chicago Music Festival Began singing career with the American Music Theatre in Pasadena, California Chosen by Oscar Hammerstein II to perform on Broadway in "Carousel"; succeeded John Raitt in the leading role of Billy Bigelow; also took over the leading role of Curly in "Oklahoma" 1947: Recreated the role of Curly when he opened the London stage production of "Oklahoma" 1948: Made feature film debut in a non-singing supporting role in the British crime drama, "The Small Voice" 1950: Signed by MGM; became instant star as the male lead of "Annie Get Your Gun" 1951: Provided the offscreen narration for the Western saga, "Across the Wide Missouri", starring Clark Gable 1951: First film opposite Kathryn Grayson, "Show Boat" 1952: First leading role in a non-musical, "Desperate Search" 1954: Made best-remembered film, "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" 1955: Last musical starring roles, and last musicals for MGM, "Jupiter's Darling" and "Kismet" 1958: Went to Britain to play the leading role in the action drama, "Floods of Fear" 1967: Last leading role, "Red Tomahawk" 1968: Last feature film appearance for over 20 years, "Arizona Bushwhackers" Starred on the London stage in the musical "Ambassador"; later brought the role to Broadway (date approximate) Toured the nightclub circuit, sometimes teaming up with his co-star from three MGM musicals of the 1950s, Kathryn Grayson Toured in stage productions of musicals and comedies including "Camelot", "Man of La Mancha", "Paint Your Wagon", "I Do! I Do!", "Plaza Suite", "Gigi", "Show Boat", "Kismet", "The Most Happy Fella" and "The Fantasticks" 1977: Teamed with Jane Powell on record-breaking national theater tour of "South Pacific" 1978: Reprised screen role of eldest brother Adam in a touring stage version of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers", opposite original screen co-star Jane Powell Joined the cast of the CBS primetime serial drama, "Dallas", which had premiered in 1978; played Clayton Farlow 1983: Recorded first solo album, "And I Love You So" 1994: Was one of the hosts of the feature compilation documentary, "That's Entertainment III", revisiting the MGM musical from the coming of sound through the late 1950s Keel was President of the Screen Actors Guild from 1958-1959.

Quotes

I've always wanted to be a June Bride...and have a baby right off, in the spring maybe.
- Dorcas
Don't you like girls?
- Milly
We ain't never hardly ever seen one.
- Gideon
Well, it wouldn't hurt you to learn some manners, too.
- Milly
What do I need manners for? I already got me a wife.
- Adam
Can't make no vows to a herd of cows.
- Caleb
Stop him!
- Milly
What for? There's only three little ones.
- Frank

Trivia

Matt Mattox' singing was dubbed by Bill Lee (I).

Every scene was shot twice to accommodate some theatres which couldn't show the widescreen version.

Only four of the brothers were dancers. Russ Tamblyn (Gideon) was an acrobat, and Jeff Richards (Benjamin) was an actor. Benjamin rarely dances in the movie.

Jacques d'Amboise had to leave before filming was finished, so someone filled in for him during the last few days. You can see someone else playing Ephraim in the scene where the brothers are pacing downstairs while Milly is giving birth.

For the brides costumes, designer Walter Plunkett went to the Salvation Army, found old quilts and turned them into dresses.

Notes

The working titles of this film were Sobbin' Women and A Bride for Seven Brothers. The story of the Sabine women referred to in the film came from Plutarch's Life of Romulus. The cast is listed in different order in the opening and closing credits. In the opening credits, the actors are listed in the following order: Jane Powell, Howard Keel, Jeff Richards, Russ Tamblyn, Tommy Rall, Howard Petrie, Virginia Gibson and Ian Wolfe. According to a November 25, 1951 Los Angeles Times news item, M-G-M had waited five years to acquire the rights to Stephen Vincent Benét's short story, as Broadway producer Joshua Logan had optioned the story as a potential stage musical. In an interview published in a modern source, director Stanley Donen said that producer Jack Cummings originally planned to use existing American folk songs for the film's musical numbers. After months spent searching in vain for the right music, Donen recalled, the decision was made to commission an original score. According to a biography of Donen, composer Harold Arlen was chosen to collaborate with lyricist Johnny Mercer on the songs. However, Donen said, "Johnny Mercer told me he wouldn't work with Harold Arlen. Johnny said, 'He's too picky about the words that go with his music.' Gene de Paul did the music, and the score suffered." A November 28, 1951 item in Hollywood Reporter's "Rambling Reporter" column stated that composer Harry Warren would be Mercer's song-writing partner.
       According to a August 13, 1953 Hollywood Reporter news item, Steve Forrest was cast, but he was not in the film. December 1953 Hollywood Reporter news items add the following actors to the cast: Regis Parton, Leroy Johnson, Saul Gorss, Carl Pitti, George Paul, Tom Steel, Frank McGrath, John Daheim, Henry Wills, Fred Kennedy, Johnny Indrisano, Hazel Burgess, Betty Graeff, Jerry Martin and Clint Sharp. The appearance of these actors in the final film has not been confirmed, however. According to a modern source, star Howard Keel attempted to have Donen replaced by director George Sidney. Although some location shooting took place at Tioga Pass in the High Sierras, the film was shot primarily on M-G-M's back lot. According to modern sources, Donen wanted to shoot the film on location over the course of a year, "because we were covering events in our story that required all four seasons," but the studio refused to grant the film such a high budget. Modern sources contend that M-G-M did not have high financial expectations for the film, and chose instead to allocate its resources to Rose Marie and Brigadoon (see entries above)-films that never matched the commercial and critical success of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
       With full location shooting no longer an option, Donen was forced to rely on painted backdrops for the outdoor scenes. "The backdrops always hurt the picture," Donen asserted in a modern source, "less when it came out than now, because then people were used to seeing pictures shot in studios. But it breaks my heart to look at the picture." Donen added that he had hoped to film "Spring, Spring, Spring" as a lavish production number, complete with footage of chicks hatching, fish spawning and snow melting on a mountainside. According to a July 1953 memo in the M-G-M Collection at the USC Cinema-Television Library, A. J. Reilly, head of the studio's film library, contacted Ohio filmmaker Karl H. Maslowski, whose material had been incorporated in the 1951 M-G-M film Across the Wide Missouri. Reilly explained that the studio was making a film containing a "spring awakening montage" and needed footage of various nature scenes. Reilly requested a viewing print of Maslowski's film Under Ohio Skies, but it has not been determined whether any of Maslowski's footage was used in the final film. Correspondence in the Collection indicates that M-G-M also considered using footage from some of Walt Disney's nature films, but rejected this plan when it became clear that Disney would insist on screen credit.
       An December 18, 1953 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that Donen was planning to shoot the brawl in the barn-raising sequence with four cameras simultaneously. Although a December 1, 1953 news item noted that the production would mark the first time that the Ansco Color process was used in conjunction with CinemaScope, they were also used in tandem on The Student Prince, an M-G-M film shot almost simultaneously to Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and given its premiere a month prior to it. Donen stated in a modern biography that because many theaters were not equipped to exhibit CinemaScope pictures, he was required to make the film both in CinemaScope and in a flat version. "I had to shoot and cut everything twice-restage scenes, put in a different set of marks, light it differently, loop it," he recalled. "We had two cutting rooms going, and it cost the studio another $500,000, which was a lot for then."
       Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was enormously popular with both audiences and critics. The Hollywood Reporter review proclaimed the film "historic for being the first completely successful marriage of ballet and movie comedy," and Time called it "the liltingest bit of tunesome lollygagging to hit the screen since the same studio brought forth An American in Paris" (see entry above). Michael Kidd's athletic choreography received considerable notice, and the barn-raising sequence is frequently included in documentaries about dance in film. The film received an Academy Award for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture, and was nominated in the following categories: Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography (Color) and Best Film Editing.
       The film loosely inspired the television series Here Come the Brides, which ran on ABC from 1968-1970 and starred Joan Blondell and Bobby Sherman. In 1978, a stage version of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, adapted by Al Kasha and David Landay, with additional songs by Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn, toured the southern United States. Keel and Powell reprised their film roles in the musical, which closed before reaching Broadway. The production was later revived with Debbie Boone in the lead role, and lasted five performances on Broadway in July 1982. In September 1982, CBS produced a television movie-of-the-week based on the film, with a script by mystery writer Sue Grafton and her husband, Stephen Humphry. The television version, which starred Terri Treas and Richard Dean Anderson, changed the story's setting to a modern-day cattle ranch in Northern California and omitted all but one of the brothers' brides.
       In 1996, a newly restored print of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was released by Turner Entertainment. The June 20, 1996 "Rambling Reporter" column in Hollywood Reporter noted that M-G-M had accommodated the unexpectedly high demand for the film in 1954 by mass-producing release prints from the original camera negative (rather than copying the duplicate negative, as is customary). Columnist Robert Osborne reported that the original negative was left badly damaged, and was difficult to repair because the obsolete Ansco Color process did not match the newer color film stock. In his September 12, 1996 column, Osborne stated that only forty percent of the original negative was usable for the restoration, and that the remaining sixty percent was created by combining elements from duplicate negatives and other sources.

Miscellaneous Notes

Voted One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1954 National Board of Review.

Voted One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1954 New York Times Film Critics.

Released in United States Summer June 1954

Released in United States October 1990

Shown at Laemmle's Monica in the series "MGM Musical Festival" in Los Angeles October 19-25, 1990.

Released in USA on video.

Awarded Special Citation for Achievement in Choreography by the 1954 National Board of Review.

CinemaScope

Released in United States Summer June 1954

Released in United States October 1990 (Shown at Laemmle's Monica in the series "MGM Musical Festival" in Los Angeles October 19-25, 1990.)

Selected in 2004 for inclusion in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry.