Thursday, January 27, 2005

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

WARNING!!! A slew of parentheses ahead! Slow to 55 MPH!
Holy domesticity, Batman!!! A few observations:

#1---The prevalence of domestic "drive," as in, the celebration and exulting in courting, marriage, marriage, marriage, and child bearing, most vividly (and somewhat disturbingly) depicted in song and dance. For example, in the "June Bride" sequence, wherein the six young brides-to-be for the remaining brothers dance, clad essentially in their underwear (which was patently addressed by the more prudish sisters' attempt to avoid the window), and sing an almost ceremonial tune regarding an eventual (and quite impossibly perfect) wedding day, prompted no less, by the news that Millie, played by Jane Powell, is having a baby. I chuckled, but was inwardly traumatized.

#2---The aforementioned disregard for "chaste" behavior w/ regards to the movie audience, but high moral standards w/ regard to the world created in the movie. Why was it acceptable for the movie audience to voyeuristically view these women clad in undergarments from an earlier time (the name of which eludes me) and yet to the other characters in the film the portent of tawdry behavior was frowned upon, even shunned? Maybe it's a question that really has no answer, or maybe it's the two-faced moral treatment as old as Hollywood; satisfy the limits/parameters of the Hayes code/Legion of decency by demonstrating a revulsion for immodesty, only to draw the deviant elements of the populace with the promise of a glimpse of young starlets in their skivvies? I'm not certain. Obviously, the "immodesty" is a far cry from today's blatant music video debauchery, but it nonetheless fascinates me that we'll accept one element of immorality and reject another. Why the trade-off? I say be heinously wicked or doggedly pure, but not between! LOL... Sorry, I get carried away, and usually about things that may not really matter in the ultimate evaluation.

#3---One cannot enjoy a musical in the presence of film academics. I, myself, could not repress a scoff at the 1950's gender identities/values evident in a) women longing for marriage---it's not that the same cannot or does not occur in modern-day movies, it's just subdued and less... less patriarchal, less domestic. b) In this movie, men are still "men," whatever that means anymore, barrel-chested, burly, and boisterous, almost bullying--- (Let's face it: when the lead is Howard Keel our expectations of a man are assuredly stereotypical, almost cartoony.) c)Courting is a breeze; dancing is mastered at an acrobatic level almost instantly; emotional/romantic woes/angst is resolved in a song.

#4---Now, having said that, may I declare my unequivocal love for song and dance. (I LOVED the Nutcracker ballet, for example.) Furthermore, I LOVE musicals (Singin' in the Rain, Hello Dolly---thanks again Sam!), but whenever I sit in this semi-cerebral setting, the movie I'm watching, no matter how superficially I contemplated it before, becomes an object of excruciating analysis. And, as is the case with any true escapist film (especially the genre of musicals), save a rare few, this movie broke under the slightest investigation, as Darl Larsen astutely pointed out to me previous to our watching it. I don't remember disliking, or even demeaning Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, even though I know I've seen it at least in part. Truthfully, I want to like it, even embrace the sugary goodness. But, well .... eh?

#5---Our society, not necessarily smarter, (though perhaps more diverse) is one that is decidedly more self-conscious and film savvy (the holes of which statement do not elude me (e.g., the successes of TERRIBLE films like Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, etc.)) If anything, as homogeneous, light, hopeful, whimsical, and escapist as musicals are---perhaps the perfect representation of an illusory America---they just don't stand for long in modern-day USA. (My guess is that Chicago and Moulin Rouge were either so self-aware, and/or racy, and/or pastiche, and/or heterogeneous, etc. that they could survive the roaring current of eclecticism and cynicism. Admittedly, I'm simplifying.)


#6---One last note: the women in this movie SWOONED. I won't say more. (Er, I did, but I deleted it.... sigh. Anyway....)

So, I think I'm frazzled just thinking about good ol' fashioned values, easy courtship, and rosy cheeks. Au revoir...

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