Jonathan Rosenbaum says “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is a profoundly sexist and eminently hummable 1954 musical” which is rather apt. I grew up watching musicals and this was one of my favourites and remains so to this day.
I recently saw Seven Brides on the big screen at a BFI screening and despite being 57 years old the film still held up. Sure you can tell which scenes were filmed on sound stages and had matte painted backgrounds but I found that just added to the charm of the film. The songs are memorable and indeed hummable, and I found myself singing along even though I haven’t seen the film in years.
And so what if it is sexist? It’s only sexist by todays more liberal views. Seven Brides is demonstrative of women’s position in the 1950s and the fundamental American view – the settler philosophy if you will. While the women appear at first to be subservient in reality they are the ones in charge. Millie is actually a very strong female character and certainly capable of bossing around 7 burly frontiersmen without a second thought. It may only be because I have been watching Seven Brides since I was little but all I see is the colourful charm of the film and not the sexist undertones (albeit rather obvious undertones!) Having said that watching it this time around I couldn’t help but see the change in affections of the kidnapped ‘sobbin’ women’ as having a hint of the Stockholm syndrome about them.
The choreography is beautiful and elegantly danced. I came out of the cinema with an enormous smile on my face and was singing the songs for days afterwards which to me is the mark of a great musical. Watching Seven Brides in a cinema with an audience, made up of people of all ages, was a brilliant experience and shows that the films still has lasting appeal.