“Seven Chances” (1925) – reviewed by George

“Seven Chances” is simply one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. It’s a black-and-white film, but the sequences at the start are in color: it’s summertime and Jimmie Shannon (Buster Keaton) and Mary Jones (Ruth Dwyer) are standing at her gate with her puppy on a leash, making goo-goo eyes at each other, and the title card says that he wants to tell her he loves her. Next, Autumn: the dog is larger and the leaves are changing color, and Jimmie still wants to tell her that he loves her. Winter and a raging snowstorm and the dog is yet larger, and Jimmie can’t open his mouth to frame a message of love. Maybe because of the snow? Spring again, and the dog is the size of a small horse, and the rest you know already.
But now Jimmie, as the junior partner in the firm Meekin and Shannon, a firm tricked into a financial deal that means disgrace and probably prison unless he and Billy Meekin (T. Roy Barnes) can raise enough cash quickly, is visited by a lawyer (Snitz Edwards), who tries to informs him that he is in his grandfather’s will. A lot of funny business later (and I would have given up, gone back to the office, and written a letter) the lawyer is able to tell him that he has inherited $7,000,000 (wait, don’t get so excited!) providing he is married by 7:00 p.m. on the evening of his twenty-seventh birthday. Meekin starts to celebrate, but then thinks to ask, “When is your 27th birthday?” And Jimmie replies, “…Today.” Three downcast faces. Then Jimmie says, “Mary might marry me.” And the angels rejoice.
He jumps in his car and drives to Mary’s, and things are smooth until he says they must marry today. Why today? And he tells her so badly that no one would agree. He goes back to the office, where it is decided they should go to the country club and look for a bride. Once there Jimmie dictates the name of every girl there that he knows, and there are seven. Seven chances of success. As Jimmie bumbles his way through seven proposals with the only result being the amusement of the audience watching the film, he is ready for prison. But Billy gets the idea of advertising. He tells Jimmie to go to a certain church and wait there – by 5:00 o’clock he will be there with a bride. The problem is that hundreds of women see the ad, put on wedding dresses, and show up at the church, leading to Jimmie’s attempts to escape the crowd of brides and being chased by them in super-funny ways. Wonderful sequences of near-escape turning into having to run for his life yet again, follow.
You know to expect a happy ending, but how that happens, don’t ask. A true classic.
Adapted from David Belasco’s Famous Comedy by Roi Cooper Megrue, Screen Version by Clyde Bruckman, Jean Havez, & Joseph Mitchell, Directed by Buster Keaton.

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