Lover-o-Classics

'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers'... so sexist!

38 posts in this topic

On 6/22/2018 at 4:02 PM, Pastiche said:

This movie does reflect its time. The 1950's was saturated with male fantasies of all kinds, notably Playboy, Marilyn Monroe, and the slew of June Cleavers (started 1957), Margaret Andersons (started 1954)  and Donna Reeds (started 1958) in the supporting housewife role, with nurturing the nuclear family being the most satisfying life you could hope for.  Anything beyond that was second rate and pitiable.

I do think this movie does have an impact on today, as people can see what society considered normal expectations for women.  They have a chance to compare that to their lives and options today, as well as women's options (or lack of) in current cultures. 

I couldn't agree more! I was raised by parents who came of age at this exact time. And I'm sure the mores of the time affected the dynamics of their relationship (my mother was quite independent, strong and ambitious for the late 50s/60s for instance, despite staying at home to be a housewife and raise children, and my father was traditional and socially conservative), and in turn, their childrens' expectations of romantic relationships. I can see this movie as a relic of its time, but it also represented beliefs that affected real women and real lives.

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So I do get the sense that the film was really trying to defend women in some way: Adam is outed as a sexist jerk, and all the men learn how to treat women more properly.

But I agree that there's something just really disturbing watching the film! Or at least there was for me. Watching the girls get carried away in a comedic musical number is unsettling because of course that's every woman's nightmare- being kidnapped and taken to a second location by strange men. I couldn't help thinking about rape the whole time, and it was hard to see it treated so lightly. 

But maybe that's too much of a 21st century perspective to take. 

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On 6/22/2018 at 7:28 PM, MotherofZeus said:

Yes, Folks, I was going to post a warning to the forum that it Seven Brides was about to air.  I believe I've unearthed several of you who would like some sort of bat signal warning before it is going to run.  ?  I'll see what I can do to allow you to run screaming from the building in time.

Perhaps a giant Howard Keel mustache and pantaloons in the sky...not because the movie is sexist but because it does absolutely nothing for me...and simply doesn't stand up to time IMO. I agree it should be seen for historical context and for seeing a transition to annoying dancing in far too bright colors and tedious stomping. It is a snippet of the 50s to be sure. One I can say I've seen and skip whenever it is showing on TCM.

I can't tell enough people how much I hate EVERYTHING about this movie.....especially bright is the flippin red hair. If it has significant cultural context - I'll plead ignorance first before watching this movie....

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For sure I admire the dancing and the cleverness and skill with which it was made. It was my aunt and uncle’s fave movie of all time, never stopped talking about it, so there’s that too which I like. And again - great dancers. But honestly, it’s such a relentless booster propaganda piece for the domestic heteronormative pair bond that, as gay man just trying to sort things out in my early 20s, when I first saw it in the 1970s it made me suddenly quite depressed.

LOL, I recovered! And I get it, and can enjoy it. But that feeling does stick in my head, and the memory helps me empathize when people sometimes feel excluded from the narrative or themes in an old Hollywood movie, or any movie or drama.

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Thanks for this post --  agreed, this is a troubling story. But the primary trouble with this musical is that it is a "remake" of the "Rape of the Sabine Women" story, which is very much with us still. It is the founding history of Rome and deeply embedded in our marriage culture ever since. I don't teach this film, but I have examined that subject in other courses I teach, and it's really complicated and needs to be contextualized... you could spend way more time on it than Prof. Ament does. To give her credit, she does actually use the word "rape" to describe what's happening, and points out that they are outraged in the film, too. Given that the 50s was deeply mired in these gender roles, I actually think 7 Brides is an interesting examination of the story, sexist as it was and is. I also agree that it wouldn't have hurt to spend a little bit more time in analysis of it. And it was part of the text she was reading in the film, and it went by pretty quickly, so maybe it got missed. (The text is actually from Livy, although I think in the film they say she's reading Plutarch, whatever.) It's true that the custom of carrying the bride over the threshold is meant SPECIFICALLY to recall that original Rape of the Sabine Women back in the day. So, if anybody is still doing that... maybe think again?  

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Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is definitely one of those movies where I have to consider the time and the culture.  The only problem, when was it ever acceptable to kidnap women under the guise of wanting a wife? More disturbing, Jane Powell gives birth to a baby by her rapist/ husband. The women come to love  and marry their kidnappers by the movie's end.  Go Figure.  Just goes to show, Arthur Freed was good, he could take a  story about kidnapping men and women with the Stockholm syndrome, throw in some great music and make it  smell like a rose, that's entertainment!!!

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11 minutes ago, starryeyzze said:

 The only problem, when was it ever acceptable to kidnap women under the guise of wanting a wife? More disturbing, Jane Powell gives birth to a baby by her rapist/ husband. The women come to love  and marry their kidnappers by the movie's end. 

The answer to your first question is, unfortunately, it was quite common in the past to kidnap wives. The women coming to love and marry their abductors is EXACTLY the Roman story of the Sabine women. In the end, for just the reasons given in the movie, the Sabine women end up making peace between Roman husbands and Sabine fathers. It's called Marriage Diplomacy.

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14 hours ago, LynnBlake said:

I can't tell enough people how much I hate EVERYTHING about this movie.....especially bright is the flippin red hair. If it has significant cultural context - I'll plead ignorance first before watching this movie....

About the only reason I can come up with for the orange hair is that it was the most contrasting color for all the outdoor scenes, so their heads would show up when they did flips and so forth.   Even so the bright shirt colors dominate.

ETA:  from TCM notes:  "MGM had all the actors playing Pontipee brothers dye their hair red so that the audience would more easily be able to distinguish them from the male suitors from town in their scenes together."   As if the suits the Townies wore weren't enough giveaway.  Or the day-glo perma-shirts of the brothers weren't a tip off. 

One thing I read was this movie resembled Snow White, in that Milly had to civilize the uncouth seven brothers. But at least Snow White ended up with a prince; all Milly got was a dimwit. Lucky she "fell in love at first sight".  Sheesh. 

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2 hours ago, starryeyzze said:

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is definitely one of those movies where I have to consider the time and the culture.  The only problem, when was it ever acceptable to kidnap women under the guise of wanting a wife? More disturbing, Jane Powell gives birth to a baby by her rapist/ husband. The women come to love  and marry their kidnappers by the movie's end.  Go Figure.  Just goes to show, Arthur Freed was good, he could take a  story about kidnapping men and women with the Stockholm syndrome, throw in some great music and make it  smell like a rose, that's entertainment!!!

 Starry--That was a very astute summary of the movie. Except Arthur Freed did not produce "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers".

This film was produced by another MGM musical producer, Jack Cummings.  Aside from this musical: Cummings also produced three other successful and well-remembered musicals: "Kiss Me Kate",  " Born To Dance " and Elvis' "Viva Las Vegas".

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11 hours ago, MarkH said:

For sure I admire the dancing and the cleverness and skill with which it was made. It was my aunt and uncle’s fave movie of all time, never stopped talking about it, so there’s that too which I like. And again - great dancers. But honestly, it’s such a relentless booster propaganda piece for the domestic heteronormative pair bond that, as gay man just trying to sort things out in my early 20s, when I first saw it in the 1970s it made me suddenly quite depressed.

LOL, I recovered! And I get it, and can enjoy it. But that feeling does stick in my head, and the memory helps me empathize when people sometimes feel excluded from the narrative or themes in an old Hollywood movie, or any movie or drama.

Mark, I wanted you to know one thing. Matt Mattox, the dancer who plays Caleb, was an openly gay man who was quite successful with a dance studio and dance company in France for many years before his death in 2013 at 91 years of age.

He was a great dancer and protege of the legendary choreographer Jack Cole. 

If you look closely you can also see Matt in " The Band Wagon," Yolanda and the Thief" and "Till Clouds Roll By"-- all MGM musicals.

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Thanks Princess! Caleb was always the one I didn’t know. Nice to know more about him - he looks so hip in his very contemporary beard and moustache. It’s great to have this background on him. You would think that out of seven dancers at least one would have to be gay! ?

What a talent. They all were: Marc Platt was from the Ballet Russe (he’s featured in that wonderful documentary), Tommy Rall of course did everything, and did it so well, Jacques d’Amboise was a star of the NYC Ballet and one of Balanchine’s favorites. That was quite the cast of dancers they pulled together.

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okay call me silly for getting worked up about this movie but even though it is 60+ years old holding it in high regard gives it currency/status. I remember back in 1974 when I was an 18 year old boy. As you can imagine, at that age, I was seeking guidance for how one conducts a relationship with women so I paid attention to what people and the media were showing me. I started to watch this movie but I only got through about 20 minutes at most. Even then I knew that showing this kind of disrespect just had to be eff'd up.

Don't underestimate the influence of movies viewed during the adolescent years. I definitely remember being strongly influenced by some movies during those formative years.

Then when I saw it was being shown again on TCM today all I could do was to shake my virtual head. We stopped showing the Darky movies and, like them, this movie is long past its expiration date. We all know that really great movies are timeless and can still give us something decades after their release - I don't think this movie gives us anything but a view into a past we are still trying to get over.

I will never forget a toast my brother-in-law made at my wedding rehearsal dinner "Don Remember when Karen says no she really means yes" - I thought huh what the hell is this, he's her brother.

Okay so I got it off my chest and now my words can just fade away ......

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37 moments ago, DonH said:

Quote

I don't think this movie gives us anything but a view into a past we are still trying to get over.

No one can escape the past!

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