Thursday, July 15, 2010

7 Brides for 7 Brothers

by Anita Mae Draper

Last week I saw my all-time favorite movie in the store and bought it. It didn’t matter that I’d already seen it at least a dozen times. Or that it’s probably not politically correct. What mattered was the contentment I felt when my eyes lit upon it. And since I hadn’t seen it on TV for years, I wanted to buy it before it disappeared.

How many times can you watch the same movie before you tire of it? I don’t know, but even after all the times I’ve watched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers over the years, I want to watch it again. Which is strange because it doesn’t elicit strong emotions like Gone with the Wind. And it doesn’t make me bawl through a dozen tissues like A Holiday to Remember. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is just a musical. But, it makes me laugh, cry, and tap my toe. I feel good watching it, too.

Maybe it has something to do with me being a history nut. The movie is set in 1850 Oregon when a backwoodsman named Adam goes to town looking for a wife. He finds one willing to marry him and move to the backwoods where the only road to town is through a mountain pass. The problem is, he doesn’t tell the girl, Milly, that he needs a wife to cook and keep house for him and his 6 messy brothers. The problem compounds when the brothers watch Adam and Milly fall in love and decide they want wives, too. Except no other women want to marry them and move so far from town.

Adam retells Plutarch’s story about the abduction of the Sabine women based on Roman history. The legend is that when Rome began, there was an abundance of males but no females. The men wanted wives but the neighboring tribe, the Sabines, refused to give their women in marriage fearing the growth of a superior race. So, the Romans decided if they weren’t given women, they’d take them. They invited their neighbors to a festival which the Sabines attended. At a signal, Romans ran into the crowd and abducted the Sabine women while other Romans fought off their men. The abducted women were offered marriage and the guarantee of civic and property rights. Moreover, their sons would be free men. The women accepted. However, the fathers and brothers of the Sabine women went after them, prepared to fight for them. The women, emotionally caught between their families and their husbands, physically jumped between the two factions, and brought about a truce.

If you do a bit of research on this legend however, you find several works of art depicting the abduction scene and entitled, The Rape of the Sabine Women. However, all the historical data points out that the historical word ‘rape’ stands for abduction. Texts confirm the Sabrine women were not raped but offered freedom and rights. However, in many parts of the modern world, bride abduction with the intent to impregnate and thereby force a marriage is a serious crime but low on the list of priority of law enforcement.

In Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Milly demands the brothers return the women, but a blizzard closes the mountain pass until spring. While they wait for the snow to melt, the whole lot of them are making cow-eyes at each other. Things heat up when Milly learns the only reason Adam married her was to be a housekeeper. It’s only fair for her to keep separate from Adam, too then, much to his chagrin.

You could ask me why I like the movie so much when it’s promoting abduction and force. Well, it isn’t. It’s simply retelling a legend. And like the legend, the women are given a free choice. Do the brothers suffer incarceration because of the abductions? I can’t tell you that because it’s giving the plot away.

In some modern communinities, however, it's traditional for the groom to make a show of abducting the bride and carrying her away. And no one objects to a honeymoon which began as a place for a man to hide his bride until he impregnated her, thereby ensuring she was his.

Am I being an ostrich and hiding my head in the sand of life? Maybe. I’ve been accused of not being ‘deep’ enough. So be it. But, I’m not one weigh the political and social side of everything. It’s why I read romances. I want to escape everyday life for a few hours.

This movie has humor, romance and music. The dance sequences rival those on TV today. But, it doesn’t have anything spiritual to it. I can’t even relate it to a story in the Bible. I just know the movie makes me feel good.

Have you watched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers? Did you know the Legend of the Sabine women before I mentioned it? So, what do you think?


  1. Anita Mae Draper! I love this movie. and I have a friend who absolutely adores it. My peeps and I sat and watched it one day and laughed our way through it. Nothing more enjoyable or corny than a musical, but so, so much fun.

    I'm glad you picked this one. I think we've talked about it in the past and I have probably seen it within the last year. You know, if I'd seen it for sale somewhere I'd probably buy it too, because it's one I'd watch over and over.

    I didn't know the legend behind it. Thanks! Nice job. I think I'll wait till later to watch the video.

  2. I knew the legend before I saw the movie. But it didn't for a moment take away from my enjoyment of the movie. It's frothy and light and bright and fun.

    Loved it. Thanks, Anita!

  3. I've never seen the movie and I'd never heard the legend. Sometimes I think it's good to retell a legend that isn't so nice, and give it a happy ending. I may be a hopeless romantic, but I love happy endings.

  4. Anita, I had no idea of the connection between the movie and the legand. Fascinating.

    I'm trying to remember if I've seen the movie in its entirety.

    The last time I saw it (or the second half of it), I spent most of the time thinkng, "It's it convenient that the brothers liked a different girl who just so happened to like him too."

    Great dance sequences!

  5. I love that movie and love the cute photo you found of the groom kidnapping the bride. How cool! This is a movie I've watched over and over :-)

  6. I love this movie. Of course I love most movies, but I love the way the women taught the men an important lesson.

  7. Mercy you gals are active today. I've been on the road for 3 days so I'm a bit slow this morning.

    Deb, I have a confession... I can't find the DVD, now. I bought it at Superstore, put it on the kitchen table and now I can't find it. I'm thinking Nelson hid it on me because he grinned when he saw it there.


  8. Anita, maybe Nelson secretly loves it to and took it to watch in private where he can laugh and cry over it without being teased.


    Well, okay. You know him better than I do!

  9. Thanks Lisa.

    Okay, I feel better. I was feeling like I shouldn't like it once I thought about the abduction angle, but then, so many romances start or end with the hero kidnapping the heroine because he wants her for himself. I think it's even one of the main plot themes.


  10. Suzie - perchance you're not old enough. LOL

    Seven Brides for Seven Brothers came out in 1954 which is before I was born, too. I first saw it as a young girl and the images that stayed with me were of Milly leaning out the window singing and the dance sequences at the barn raising.

    The video I've included is low quality compared to some, but it includes scenes from the actual movie.


  11. Hey Gina, I always wondered that, too. But, I guess they weren't looking for a script high in conflict at the time. Well, higher than the conflict between Milly and Adam. Or the conflict between the brothers and the townfolk. Or the conflict between the girls and the brothers. Hmmm... maybe they didn't have time to add another subplot? LOL

    And anyway, if it truly did work out that way, it would just prove that God's hand was over the whole situation. :)


  12. Hey Angie, I wasn't familiar with this custom myself, even though Nelson could've thrown me over his shoulder when I married him at 19 and I wouldn't have cared if he locked me away as long as he was there. He was strong and handsome... and he picked me!
    I can't believe I thought I was overweight back then. Sigh

    Thanks for dropping in, Angie.


  13. Phew, Dina. I was most worried about your reaction. :D Of all the Inkies, I thought you'd be the one to take me to task for liking such an politically incorrect movie.

    But then, you qualified your comment by saying you like the way the women taught the men a lesson. Okay, everything is right in my world. LOL

    Anita. :D

  14. Hey, Lisa, you know him better than you think. LOL

    He just came home for lunch and I asked him about it. He went over to our DVD collection and pulled it out from under a pile of new ones. I'm very excited about this DVD because I bought it for for US $10. It's a Turner Classic Movie (TCM) edition and contains 4 movies:
    - Show Boat
    - Annie Get Your Gun
    - Kiss Me Kate
    - and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

    I haven't seen any of them except the last one.

    And they all star Howard Keel who later appeared as a regular on the tv series, Dallas.

    But back to Nelson... I do have a story about him squirreling away surprising DVD's but this comment is too long already...


  15. Anita,
    I love Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Love the barn raisng scene. I think my favorite line is Howard Keel's that goes something like,"Their trying to make a bunch of mama boys out of you and what do you do? Aplogize for livin. I hope they kill the lot of ya."

    and then Rev or Mrs. Elcott: Sounds like Pansy has the croup.

    Oh you did good Anita. Just love it.

  16. Love that movie! I might have to pull it out again before my daughter goes back to school!

    You'll love the others on your DVD, too. Annie Get Your Gun is another of our particular favorites.

    They are all Howard Keel musicals, right?

  17. Hey Jilly, thanks. You did good, too. It's been so long since I saw it, I can't remember any lines but as I watched YouTube videos trying to pick one for my post, it was all so familiar.

    This movie even got me into trouble once...

    It was New Year's Eve in the mid 80's and I was working the night shift at the base Commcen and everyone was out partying. At the time, we weren't allowed a TV in the Commcen itself due to the transmission of electrical pulses and the possibility of spies picking up our signals and reading our classified messages. So, I had to go down the hall to watch the movie. I'd seen it so many times before, but it was the perfect way to bring in the new year. During one commercial break, I ran back to the Commcen to check for messages and in my rush to get back to the movie, left the keys on the counter. As soon as the door closed behind me, I realized I'd locked myself out. It was 12:05 AM on New Year's Eve and I was locked out of the Commcen. To top it off, we weren't supposed to leave it except to go to the washroom. The room with the TV was a perk we could use during the Christmas holidays while our superiors 'looked the other way'. But to get back in, I had to call my Sgt. Ugh. Let's just say he wasn't a happy camper when he showed up. No wonder it took me so long to get promoted. LOL

    Thanks for the memory, Jilly.


  18. Yes, D'Ann, they are all Howard Keel musicals. Jane Powell is in 7 Brides For 7 Bros, Betty Hutton stars as Annie Oakley, and Kathryn Grayson is the female lead in the last two.

    I never watched Annie Get Your Gun although I've seen videos of portions of it - mainly when Jessie was researching for her musical role as Annie Oakley. And then of course, when I was researching for my Annie Oakley post last year.

    I'm quite excited to watch them all. :)


  19. Yes, I have seen it, many times!!! I think it is interesting about the legend. I did know that, but just from the movie.

  20. Great choice, Anita! Another classic movie musical.

  21. Hey Martha - another fan. Yay!

    I actually like how they work the legend in, to give us a reference point. Otherwise, I'd never have known.

    Thanks for commenting. :)


  22. Hey Jen, thanks. I really enjoy the old musicals. Corny, yes, but great entertainment.


  23. This is one of my favorite musicals! Love everything about it.

    The dancing is so awesome because all of the brothers (except Adam) were dancers from the New York Metropolitan Ballet.

  24. You're right, Rachel. The dancing is spectacular. We were watching So You Think You Can Dance last week and when Kent ? did the 'suicide jump' everyone oohed and awed... hubby and I along with the rest. And yet, when we watched Kiss Me Kate a couple hours later, one dancer did the same movement. And the film is 50 yrs old!

    It just goes to show how wonderful the dancing really is because it's withstood the ficklness of time and still wows us.

    Thanks for your input, Rachel.



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