Just to clear up any confusion, I should like to clarify that this is NOT the same film as Satte Pe Satta (Seven on Seven) which is the 1982 Bollywood re-make that I’m sure you’ve all seen and cherished for many years.
Nominated for Best Picture, this one stars Howard Keel (Show Boat), who has an amazing voice. It likewise stars Jane Powell (Royal Wedding), who also has an amazing voice. In addition, you may recognize the acrobatic Russ Tamblyn (West Side Story) who plays Gideon. He has amazing thighs.
The rest of the cast is made up of professional dancers. In fact, four of the brothers were well-known ballet dancers at the time. That was supposedly a big draw when this movie came out. Not sure if any of the female dancers were famous, but the one who plays Dorcas went on to play Catwoman in the 1960s TV series Batman — a show too little appreciated for its groundbreaking contributions to the world of dance.
The only exception to this cast of dancers was the guy who played Benjamin. Ah, poor Benjamin. He sticks out like Charles Barkley at a Barry Manilow concert.
In real life Benjamin was a professional baseball player with a nice face who we can only assume lost his way and wandered on to the set while they were filming. They never let him dance or anything, but during the “Goin’ Courtin’” song he does put himself out there with some riveting toe-tapping action and a brief do-si-do. He’s actually my favorite person to watch during the dance scenes.
Choreographer Michael Kidd worked really hard to make it not seem ridiculous to see a bunch of Oregon mountain men break into dance at any given moment. He really did an incredible job, though I would be lying if I said watching that lonesome polecat ax-dance was anything but unsettling to the few straws of manhood I still hold dear.
MGM was filming Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at the same time as Brigadoon, a film they were much more interested in. In fact, the studio actually cut the budget for this movie to give more money to Brigadoon. Thus the scenery in Milly’s opening song that looks like it was painted by an 11 year-old.
OH, SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW: I don’t care what you say, I’m naming my next daughter Dorcas. And the one after that will be Hephzibah. Both will be the biggest stars Bollywood has ever seen.
You might notice that Adam and Milly only know each other for a few hours, but decide to get married the same day. Shockingly, they start having marital problems. (That’s why I always encourage people to wait a full 48 hours.)
The one really at fault in this relationship is Adam, who fails to understand how to treat his wife with the love, the gentleness, and the respect she deserves. He passes this ignorance on to his brothers and convinces them to kidnap the women they want to marry.
By the end of the movie, these seven brothers have a better understanding of what makes relationships really last.
I’m reminded of an unforgettable story told by F. Burton Howard about how early in his marriage his wife wanted a nice set of silverware. Little by little she saved enough to buy a fork here and a spoon there. I’ll continue in his words:
“When we finally had service for four, we began to invite some of our friends for dinner. Before they came, we would have a little discussion in the kitchen. Which utensils would we use, the battered and mismatched stainless or the special silverware? In those early days I would often vote for the stainless. It was easier. You could just throw it in the dishwasher after the meal, and it took care of itself.
“The silver, on the other hand, was a lot of work. My wife had it hidden away under the bed where it could not be found easily by a burglar. She had insisted that I buy a tarnish-free cloth to wrap it in. Each piece was in a separate pocket, and it was no easy task to assemble all the pieces.
“When the silver was used, it had to be hand washed and dried so that it would not spot, and put back in the pockets so it would not tarnish, and wrapped up and carefully hidden again so it would not get stolen. If any tarnish was discovered, I was sent to buy silver polish, and together we carefully rubbed the stains away.
“Over the years we added to the set, and I watched with amazement how she cared for the silver…For years I thought she was just a little bit eccentric, and then one day I realized that she had known for a long time something that I was just beginning to understand. If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently.
“You shield it and protect it. You never abuse it. You don’t expose it to the elements. You don’t make it common or ordinary. If it ever becomes tarnished, you lovingly polish it until it gleams like new. It becomes special because you have made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by. Eternal marriage is just like that. We need to treat it just that way.”
Which relationships do you want to last? And what are you willing to do differently to make them last?
“Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest…” — Ecclesiastes 9:9