No one made better color musicals than MGM in the Fifties. It was during this decade the studio released classics like Singin’ in the Rain, An American in Paris, Gigi, A Star is Born and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. But one of my personal favorites is Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
ABOUT SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS
Millie is a young woman used to hard work. But she dreams of the day she can invest all of her energy into loving a man and building a life together.
Adam Pontipee arrives in town after months in the mountains with his six brothers, Benjamin, Caleb, Daniel, Ephraim, Frank, and Gideon. He’s determined to find a wife to take back with him.
After all, the Pontipee brothers need a woman to look after them and their domestic needs. He’s impressed with Millie’s backbone and willingness to work. Before she knows it, Millie is swept off her feet, married and headed to her new life with her stranger husband.
But Millie and Adam have very different ideas about what their marriage should be. Not to mention, Millie’s presence in the Pontipee home prompts the other brothers to begin thinking of marriage themselves.
These “seven slumachy back woodsmen” may think they have found a woman to cook and clean for them. But little do they know Millie is about to reform them all.
Having grown up watching this, my love for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers has a strong nostalgia factor. Originally, I always hesitated to voice my loyalty due to the strong sexist behavior of the Pontipee brothers.
But over time, I realized that at heart, this is really a story of how a strong but wise woman creates the life she desires despite a masculine culture that wants to define her role.
A STRONG HEROINE
Millie is an overlooked heroine and female role model in movies. While Adam marries for his own convenience, she does so because she falls in love at first sight.
When her dream of a loving marriage and home of her own is dashed, Millie doesn’t sit around pouting or bemoaning her choices. She rolls up her sleeves and gets on with life. But she doesn’t give up on that dream either, she just has to work a little harder (and more subtly) to create an environment where her dream can thrive.
Ultimately, she’s not afraid to stand up to her bully of a husband. But she also shows her softer side with his younger brothers. Millie patiently teaches Adam’s biblically named brothers how to woo the women they want.
In the process, she also teaches Adam by proxy how she expects to be treated as his wife. Millie’s presence in the Pontipee household slowly transforms these ignorantly misogynistic backwoodsmen into gentlemen.
Milly: Well, it wouldn’t hurt you to learn some manners, too.
Adam: What do I need manners for? I already got me a wife.
But beyond the deeper analysis of male and female roles, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is just pure fun entertainment. It’s a perfect blend of comedy, music, and romance.
Excepting Adam and Millie’s romantic solos, the music provides much tongue-in-cheek humor. From Adam’s selfishly oblivious solo about wife hunting, Bless Your Beautiful Hide, to Millie teaching the boys manners in Goin’ Co’tin, to the men’s still oblivious sexist views in Sobbin’ Women, these songs are catchy and fun to sing along with.
Then there’s my personal favorite, Lonesome Polecat, wherein the brothers bemoan their missing women. It always makes me mock and giggle.
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers also features one of my favorite dance sequences in any movie. The barn dance where the brothers steal partners from other men in attendance is an iconic one. It spotlights creative and memorable choreography by five-time Tony Award winner Michael Kidd.
Then there are the vibrantly rustic costumes designed by Oscar winner Walter Plunkett (Gone with the Wind). The rainbow colors help differentiate between the six brothers and their love interests. I personally adore Millie’s red gingham ensemble that she wears to the barn dance, but I also think her quilt skirt is inventive too.
The script is just as funny in the way it subtly makes fun of the Pontipee’s viewpoints on women by showing how ridiculous their opinions are. I love how the women they kidnap wreak their revenge on the brothers. I also love the joke about brother Frank’s name. But this script also tackles important relationship topics like respect, setting boundaries and love.
There were no F names in the Bible so Ma named him Frankincense because he smelled so sweet.
There is so much to love about Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, not the least of which it is pure escapist fun. And I didn’t even mention the talented cast and respected director.
This is a musical which doesn’t take itself too seriously yet still manages to teach a few important lessons along the way. The songs are catchy, the plot is silly but enjoyable and the performances well balanced. If you’re looking to escape the seriousness of life for a little while then this is the perfect way to do it.
Content Note: Rated G Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is safe fun for the whole family to watch.
Where to Watch: Rent or buy on Digital and DVD.
Photo Credits: MGM