Monday, March 1, 2021

CAFTAN WOMAN'S CHOICE: ONE FOR MARCH ON TCM


"
Still, at first, they swore they wouldn't take bite or sup till they were restored to their grieving families. But Milly had some tea ready for them, in a jiffy—and a woman will usually take tea, no matter how mad she is." 
- The Sobbin' Women by Stephen Vincent Benet  

The Sobbin' Women is Stephen Vincent Benet's delightful short story of a bound-girl named Milly who manipulates her new husband and family, and eventually an entire town into getting the life and family she seeks. Producer Joshua Logan held the rights to the 1937 story with intentions to turn it into a Broadway play. Benet's widow canceled the contract in 1951 and MGM snapped the property up. 

Our 1954 film opens with Howard Keel as Adam Pontipee singing about his intention to leave town for his backwoods home with a wife (Bless Your Beautiful Hide). He gets more than he bargained for when Milly played by Jane Powell agrees to his proposal (Wonderful Wonderful Day and When You're in Love). 

Milly whips her six new brothers-in-law into a rough and ready respectability (Goin Co'tin') and has hopes of their society being enriched by future sisters-in-law. After the athletic Barn Raising Dance which ends in a fight with "townies," the brothers' are completely dejected (Lonesome Polecat).

Adam, half-listening when the educated Milly read from Plutarch's history, determined that much like the Romans who abducted their wives, the Sabine women, the Pontipees could do the same thing as long as they remembered a preacher (Sobbin' Women).

Jeff Richards, Matt Mattox, Marc Platt, Jacques d'Amboise, Tommy Rall, Russ Tamblyn Julie Newmar, Ruta Lee, Norma Doggett, Virginia Gibson, Betty Carr, Nancy Kilgas

The "brides" are trapped through the winter by an avalanche. Milly and Adam separate due to his impetuous action. Over the course of the long winter, Milly, expecting her first child, is overjoyed to see happy and strong relationships form between her friends (June Bride) and her brothers (Spring, Spring, Spring).  Months of reflection have brought Adam to an understanding of his thoughtless actions toward the young women and toward Milly, whom he has come to love dearly. 


"It truly was one big happy family." - Howard Keel

Producer Jack Cummings originally wanted to use original American folk songs for this musical but after searching, decided on original music which was written by Gene de Paul and Johnny Mercer when Mercer declined to work (again) with perfectionist Arlen. Gene and Johnny would write another rustic show, L'il Abner for Broadway in 1956.

Director Stanley Donen hopes to film the movie over the course of a year, on location in Oregon were dashed when the studio slashed their budget in favour of Brigadoon. Painted backgrounds however do not hinder the bright and beautiful Oscar-nominated cinematography by George Fosley.

Other Oscar nominations for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers were Ralph Winters for Film Editing, the screenplay by Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich, and Dorothy Kingsley, and producer Cummings for Best Picture. Adolph Deutsch and Saul Chaplin won for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is a fresh and funny tale, performed with infectious energy by its young and talented cast. Familiarity over the years has done nothing to take away from this creative, life-affirming musical.

TCM is screening Seven Brides for Seven Brothers on March 5th at midnight after Gone with the Wind. The theme for Thursday nights in March is "reframed."

"Many of the beloved classics that we enjoy on TCM have stood the test of time in several ways, nevertheless when viewed by contemporary standards, certain aspects of these films can be troubling and problematic. This month, we are looking at a collection of such movies and we'll explore their history, consider their cultural context and discuss how these movies can be reframed so that future generations can keep their legacy alive."


Of note: 

Jane Powell, Howard Keel in South Pacific 

Our leads, Jane Powell and Howard Keel would tour in the 1970s and 1980s in stage productions of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, South Pacific, and I Do, I Do. We enjoyed both Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and South Pacific at Toronto's O'Keefe Centre.


2021 Birthdays among the cast of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers


Jane Powell will be 92 on April 1st 


Ruta Lee will be 86 on May 30th


Jacques d'Amboise will be 87 on July 28th


Julie Newmar will be 88 on August 16th


Nancy Kilgas will be 91 on November 7th


Russ Tamblyn will be 87 on December 30th





26 comments:

  1. Didn’t know Julie Newmar was in this.

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    1. I thought all guys had some sort of super radar where Ms. Newmar was concerned. Maybe Garry has extra. (Chuckles to self for the rest of the day.)

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  2. JANE POWELL, RUTA LEE and HOWARD KEEL guest starred on MURDER, SHE WROTE. In Jane's ep she played a nun (the mother superior) who was a long-time friend of JESSICA's. Ruta was in the one about the new exercise place. Howard was in one set in LAS VEGAS.

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    1. I see Murder, She Wrote Seven Brides for Seven Brothers edition marathon in my future.

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  3. SEVEN BRIDES is my favorite musical of the 1950s. Michael Kidd's barn-raising dance sequence is a highlight, but I love the smaller numbers, too, like "Lonesome Polecat." I think Julie Newmar is billed as Julie Newmeyer. I also read where Russ Tamblyn was considered more an acrobat than a dancer at that time. Finally, there was a short-lived TV series based on SEVEN BRIDES that starred Richard Dean Anderson.

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    1. I can't imagine what sort of person would be immune to the delights of this movie.

      I had forgotten about the TV series. Shame on me! I go back to General Hospital with Richard Dean Anderson.

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  4. I looked up RUTA LEE on a couple of websites today and found out that sadly her husband died on JULY 1, 2020. She married WEBSTER B. "WEBB" LOWE, JR. in 1976. They were married 44 years! Webb was a restaurant executive. Sadly KIM NOVAK and LYNDA CARTER also lost their husbands recently. (Kim in November and Lynda in February.) To end on a happy note all three ladies had long and reportedly happy marriages.

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    1. A long relationship is worthwhile with all its ups and downs. Loss is magnified during these troubled times that we share.

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  5. Great write Up! One of my favorite Musicals. Love that Barn dancing scene. Too bad the brides didn't get more dialogue - but there are 7 of them.

    I must say, the movie looks pretty darn good for being a studio job. But locations are overrated anyway. Switzerland adds a lot to "The Sound of Music" but its hard to think of another musical where the location adds that much. South Pacific? But then Logan ruined that with the weird filters.

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    1. I agree with what you say about locations. They don't always enhance a script, especially when there were such skilled craftsman available in-house.

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  6. I'm so glad you showcased SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS this month! (And thank you for leaving the link at my blog!!) This has been my favorite movie most of my life (along with MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS and THE SOUND OF MUSIC, but if I had to pick one from the trio it's probably this one!). I've been in love with it since I first saw part of the "Barn Dance" in THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT! (1974) when I was young.

    What fun we each saw Powell and Keel in SOUTH PACIFIC! I saw it at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood. They were supposed to come here in the SEVEN BRIDES stage production but it was cancelled. (I later saw it with Debby Boone at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.) I've been extremely fortunate to meet several people in the cast over the years at various events.

    So sorry to learn that Ruta Lee's husband passed away. She came out to the film noir festival in Palm Springs a couple years ago and was an absolute joy, so kind and friendly.

    Best wishes,
    Laura

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    1. Those where the days! The Summer Theatre Season brought new (and affordable) treats in the way of classic shows and performers, and we would catch everything we could.

      Seven Brides for Seven Brothers lifts my spirits like nothing else. It bothers me to see it under the "reframed" banner. My daughter will rant for hours about the sexism of Henry Higgins, but says "If Howard Keel wants to 'Bless My Beautiful Hide', I'm OK with it!"

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  7. I very much agree. I know SEVEN BRIDES rubs some people the wrong way -- many years ago it was the cause of an epic "flame war" on a children's literature mailing list I'm on, if you can believe it. I was...surprised LOL. My own feeling is it's all in good fun, I just don't understand choosing to be offended by it. As you say, it lifts the spirits like nothing else! I feel such joy every time the opening credits music starts, and I smile start to finish. And that's after seeing it countless times!

    Best wishes,
    Laura

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    1. It is a joyful piece of entertainment. It certainly does seem as if many go out of their way to be offended and, not content in their own discontent, they want the rest of us to join them.

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  8. CAFTAN WOMAN, I'm glad you mentioned your daughter because I was going to ask you if she had watched the movie. Does GARRY ever watch musicals with you? SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS would be a good movie for couples to watch(if the man likes musicals) because there are a lot of men and women!

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    1. I met my husband when we were both involved with community theatre. He has played Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls, and Charlie Brown in You're a Good Man Charlie Brown. He was also Marcellus in The Music Man. It has been a long time since those days, but he's never forgotten a lyric or a dance step in his life.

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    2. I'd love to see you and your husband post a music video. Maybe something from Guys and Dolls?

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    3. Those days are pretty much behind us. My choir has even been put on hold due to the pandemic. The last thing we did was some voice work for our daughter's animation project when she graduated from Sheridan College.

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  9. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is my all time favourite musical besides The Wizard of Oz and A Hard Day's Night. I still remember when CBS showed it in the Seventies! It's probably the first film I ever saw with Howard Keel, Jane Powell, and Ruta Lee (I'd seen Julie Newmar on Batman and The Monkees, and Russ Tamblyn in West Side Story).

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    1. Those are excellent memories wrapped up in this appealing movie. My association with the movie, and the countless viewings, are all just as pleasant.

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  10. RUTA LEE has been a member of the charitable group THE THALIANS for over 50 years. The group raises money and provides services for troubled youth and mental health organizations. Ruta was friends with LUCILLE BALL and DEBBIE REYNOLDS who were also members.

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    1. It impresses me when people put so much time and energy into worthy causes.

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  11. RUTA LEE is also friends with ANN JILLIAN. Ann is a good actress. I am a big fan of hers. Ann was nominated for three EMMYs including one for THE ANN JILLIAN STORY which covered her breast cancer story. It was also about her romance and marriage to former cop ANDY MURCIA(played by TONY LO BIANCO who I think did a great job n that role). Ann won a GOLDEN GLOBE for that movie. I've seen Ann in lots of TV-Movies. I'm sure you recall her from the PERRY MASON TV-Movie THE CASE OF THE MURDERED MADAM. Also as a child she appeared in an hour-long TWILIGHT ZONE episode titled MUTE. I just remembered that I liked her singing THE WIND BENEATH MY WINGS in THE ANN JILLIAN STORY.

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    1. I always think of Gypsy first when I think of Ann Jillian, but there is so much more to her career. She was born with talent.

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  12. Psst – don't tell anyone, but I have NEVER seen this film. Yes, shameful, I know, but you've encouraged me to look for it very soon.

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    1. They won't hear it from me. I'm too ashamed to call you friend!!

      I would have thought this movie would be impossible to avoid, but I do envy you that first viewing.

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