Making the Grades
When I was a teen, I befriended a family of seven brothers. As I came from a clan of almost as many sisters, my gentler, quieter upbringing just didn’t prepare me for the boys’ jovial jousting and rambunctious roughhousing. Regardless of popular opinion, I decided the two sexes were definitely not created equal!
In Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, Milly (Jane Powell) is about to reach a similar conclusion. Full of romantic notions, the hardworking domestic help at a frontier inn agrees to marry a dashing backwoodsman, even though the only conversation they’ve shared is his brisk proposal. A few minutes later, the newlyweds head up into the hills towards the isolated farmstead they will call home. In the haste of the arrangements, Adam (Howard Keel) fails to explain his definition of marital bliss, which amounts to having a little woman to do the cooking, cleaning and laundry. Nor does he mention his six dependant bachelor brothers who’ll need some tending too.
“Bless her beautiful hide” (their words not mine), rather than regretting falling in love at first sight, the plucky Milly determines to fix up the pigpen of a house, and to mother her messy brothers-in law. Her effort to make a silk purse out of a sows ear begins with teaching basic grooming and essential etiquette. Then she expands to proper courting rituals and formal ballroom dancing, with the goal of helping the young men find brides of their own.
The boys prove to be quick learners (in the dancing department as least), and take the opportunity of showing off their fancy footwork at the next community event, a barn raising. Although the few single females present are much impressed, the local competition is not! In short order a jealous brawl erupts, leveling everything including Millys good name.
Yet, an appeal to her husband merely convinces the recent wife that she has indeed cast her pearls before swine. Instead of smoothing out the situation, Adam persuades his lovesick siblings to kidnap the girls of their dreams. When an avalanche blocks the possibility of any of the townsfolk coming to rescue their daughters, Milly is forced to act as chaperone until spring can melt the snowy mountain pass. Sheltering the fearful victims in the house while banishing the disgraced brothers to the barn, the indignant woman gives her man the cold shoulder. However, as the winter drags on, there appears to be a thawing of the frosty feelings held by the other trapped females.
Never intended to be a thought provoking piece, the plot of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is teased along by some mild sexual innuendo and pauses regularly to break into song. The fistfights are as well choreographed as its dance routines. And with the exception of a pipe-smoking main character, parents will find the bad manners of the good intentioned brothers to be as amusing now as they were in 1954, when this musical was recorded.
As I watched I couldn’t help but remember the antics of my teenaged friends, who incidentally, claimed Seven Brides for Seven Brothers to be their family’s favorite film.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Seven Brides For Seven Brothers.
If you were as uninformed as Milly, would you feel obligated to assume the responsibilities she did? Do you think she shows eternal optimism or just romantic blind faith? What are your expectations of marriage? What qualities would you look for in a spouse, and how would you find out if you were compatible?