Two and a half months ago, I wrote about my quarantine goal of watching the 25 movie musicals deemed essential by the American Film Institute. I had 11 under my belt then, including five I had already seen and six I had watched in recent weeks.
I am happy to announce that I have now accomplished my goal of watching all 25. And that includes revisiting the five titles I had already seen. Over the next month, I will present my countdown of those musicals from worst to best.
Given that the 25 films on this list are considered the cream of the crop, culled down by AFI from a list of over 100 titles, the ones at or near the bottom aren’t necessarily unworthy. Rather, they just proved a poor match for my particular taste and sensibility.
#25. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
(#21 on the AFI list)
I did not go for this film at all. For one thing (setting a trend you’ll find over the next couple of picks), this is a dance-heavy musical, and I’m just not that into the kind of mass-scale choreography at work here.
The celebrated “barn dance” sequence I’ve chosen as today’s SOTD is a marvelous feat of physical talent, no doubt, but it bores me when it doesn’t support a strong story.
The story, instead, is the other thing I truly dislike about Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Based on the Roman mythological tale The Rape of the Sabine Women (yes, really), the film depicts seven backwoods brothers who kidnap young women from the nearby town and hold them captive until their defenses break down.
I understand that we must consider context when watching dated works of art, but I’m not sure how this was considered appropriate and entertaining even in the 1950s.
It might make some difference if the movie had memorable songs draped over its unpleasant plot, but none of the music here sticks with me. This was a slog from start to finish.
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture (it lost to On the Waterfront). It won for best Musical Score.
Director Stanley Donen has two other films much higher on this list. I look forward to writing about those and putting this one far behind me.