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Buster Keaton plays a young lawyer who will inherit $7 million at 7 o'clock on his 27th birthday--provided he is married. Long before discovering this, Keaton has pursued a lifelong courtship of Ruth Dwyer, whose refusals have become ritualistic over the years (the passage of time is amusingly conveyed by showing a puppy grow to adulthood). He proposes again, but this time she turns him down because she thinks (mistakenly) that he wants her only so that he can claim his inheritance. The doleful Keaton is thus obliged to spend the few hours left before the 7 PM deadline in search of a bride--any bride. He has no luck whatsoever until his pal T. Roy Barnes prints the story of Keaton's incoming legacy in the local newspaper. As a result, literally hundreds of women, bedecked in veils and bearing bouquets, chase Keaton through the busy streets of Los Angeles. When Keaton's producer Joseph M. Schenck bought the film rights to the Roi Cooper Megrue stage play Seven Chances, Keaton opted to forego most of the play's plot complications, devoting his energies to the bride-hunting vignettes and the climactic slapstick chase. The final scenes originally laid an egg with preview audiences--until the sequence was saved by "three little rocks." During the closing moments of the chase, Buster accidentally dislodged three small stones in the ground, which rolled after him as he escaped the thundering herd of would-be brides. The audience laughed immoderately at the tiny rocks, thereby inspiring Keaton to reshoot the ending, utilizing scores of huge, rolling boulders. The extra effort worked beautifully; while not his best silent feature, Seven Chances contains one of Keaton's most hilarious finales. Watch for Jean Arthur in a bit as a receptionist. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
An absolutely hilarious comedy with great editing, score, framing and cinematography, even if the initial scenes in early Technicolor have not survived in such a good state - and it is really impressive to see so much action, thrill and energy in a movie made at that time.
It was a real joy to watch this at the local Cinematheque with lots of people laughing and enjoying this classic comedy. It is a premise that has been repeated many times since. Buster Keaton is Jimmie Shannon. A prologue was included in the showing. This prologue was shot with color tinting, but did not screen with most theatrical releases here in the states. In it Jimmie's longtime courting of Mary (Dwyer) is consistently met with cold feet and her dog coming between them. In the main film Jimmie and his buddy Billy (Barnes) are having difficulty keeping their financial firm in the black. An attorney (Snitz Edwards) must track down Jimmie to read his grandfather's will. Jimmie will receive an inheritance of 7 million dollars, IF he is married before 7 p.m. on his 27th birthday! Oh, look at that, today is his 27th birthday. He blunders through proposing to Mary and so Billy and the attorney tag along to the nearby country club to find a bride. They count 7 women lounging in the club, hence the Seven Chances. However, before it is all over Jimmie will have a large church full of women, including women spilling out all over the street outside, chasing him when they find out he will be a millionaire. There is a long, complex chase scene with lots of great visual gags and Keaton hurling himself from one attempt at escape to another. It's a riot. Will he make the deadline? Does he have the stamina? I am growing to really love Buster Keaton's craft as a comedian.
December 29, 2011
The funniest silent movie ever? "Seven Chances" isn't as brilliant as "Our Hospitality," "The General" and "Sherlock Jr." as a total filmmaking package, but it's absolutely hysterical. And the high-concept plot feels remarkably contemporary -- no wonder the story was remade in the modern era with Chris O'Donnell. The trickling accumulation of the bridal mob is perfectly paced, and Keaton's daring athleticism during the avalanche sequence is just incredible.
When I read the simplified plot summary of the film, I thought it's one of those Buster Keaton "small scale" comedies, with all the cute romantic comedy stuff and all, but as it turned out, it's one of his most outrageous pictures ever. The first half of the film was purely devoted to simple comic scenes, mainly about Buster Keaton's character's blunders of bride hunting, then off it goes to one of cinema's finest and daring chase sequences that only Keaton could absolutely pull off. As legendary and delightful the chase sequence was, I also liked and chuckled a bit in some of the titlecards, particularly the one that said: "Jimmie asked everyone on skirt to marry him, even a scotchman". A Buster Keaton comedy for the ages, with many of the best stunts ever filmed in this picture.
Buster Keaton is a great comedian and has a great eye for comedy as a director as well. Seven Chances isn't Keaton's best work and the comedy isn't as physical as his other films but Seven Chances has a more thought out storyline. The thousands of brides chasing Keaton through the city is one of the best shot scenes from the early days of cinema.
August 20, 2012
"Seven Chances" is not my favorite Buster Keaton film, but it's a great feature packed with hysterical sight gags, some subtle and others epic. In the first half, Keaton riffs on his character's desperate search for a bride, delivering one creative proposal rejection after another. It becomes a bit redundant, but the second half's escape from a horde of women is wild and thrilling. Best bit involves two teams of fallen football players.
This film just isn't as funny as some other Buster Keaton pictures, and the second half of it is basically one huge chase sequence. However, being based on a play, it has some advantages in that there's a bit more of a plot to follow than in some other Keaton works. Also, there are some nice editing techniques and the print for the stream version on Netflix is good.
This Buster Keaton short is one of his more entertaining, since it has a very simple premise and just let Keaton do the wonderful physical comedy he does best. The image of dozens of women in bridal veils chasing him all over the city is very funny. Nicely done.