Sunday, March 17, 2013

Silent Sunays: Seven Chances (1925)


“He said he must wed someone and it might as well be me!”

                        In the 1925 silent comedy Seven Chances, Buster Keaton plays a young man named James Shannon. He is in love with a girl named Mary who he has never gotten enough courage to tell her he loves her. Mary loves James just as much and does not seem to mind that he has never been able to tell her his feelings.
            James works at a firm with his partner Bill. The firm recently got tricked into a bad deal and both could possibly face jail time if they do not come up with the money. A lawyer is waiting outside their office. James and Bill think the lawyer is there to serve them with papers to appear in court. The lawyer is really there to tell James that he is to inherit his grandfather’s estate. The partners walk out of the office completely ignoring the lawyer. The lawyer is finally able to get their attention and read them the will. The will stipulates that James will inherit seven million dollars but only if he gets married on his twenty-seventh birthday at seven o’clock. Turns out his birthday is that day and now he only has a few hours to find someone and get married. 
            He decides to now tell Mary he loves her. While he is waiting for her out in the garden he practices how he I going to propose to Mary. She overhears James practicing. James tells her he has to marry a girl any girl someone. Mary gets a little upset with him and tells James she will call him with her decision. James goes back to the club to wait for Mary’s call. Meanwhile, Mary talks things over with her mother and decides to marry him. She tries to get through on the phone but the operator puts the call through wrong. She writes a letter to James that she accepts and gives the note to her help.
            James is upset thinking that Mary does not want to marry him. Bill tells him he has to marry a girl or they will both wind up in jail. Bill takes James out to the dining room of the club. He asks his partner to write down how many women he knows in the room. James knows seven. He now has to go ask them if they will marry him. Every woman turns him down. A few laugh at him. Bill asks a random woman for James. The woman thinks Bill is asking for himself and James points towards James. When the woman looks up she sees the ugly lawyer. Eventually even James begins to ask random women to marry him.
            Desperate with time winding down Bill tells James to meet him at a church downtown at a certain time. Bill puts a front page story in the paper how James is looking to get married. James gets to the church, he is by himself and falls asleep in the front pew. As soon as he closes his eyes ugly old spinster women start piling into the church in answer to the story. When he wakes up two big ladies sandwich him in between them, then they realize he is the guy from the paper. Pandemonium begins! Every  women inside and outside the church try to get to James. He hides in a crawl space under the church. Mary’s help was outside the window when James jumped out and went into the crawl space. He crawls in there with James and gives him Mary’s latter.
            James now has to run all over town to get to Mary’s house on time. He thought he got away from all the aggressive spinsters but they manage to find him and chase him all over from a busy downtown area to a construction site to a range of hills. Running through then hills James is now chased by rocks and boulders of all sizes. The rocks and boulders chase him right into the path of all the women. He realizes he would rather face the boulders and rocks than face all those women. The boulders help James chase all the crazy women away from him.
            After all his being chased James makes it to Mary’s house. Unfortunately according to Bill’s watch James is five minutes late. James tells Mary he does not want to marry her because he will be a failure in a few days time. Standing outside the house in the distance James hears the clock of a church chime seven. He is not late after all! James happily marries Mary.

            Seven Chances was not one of Buster Keaton’s best comedies but it is a cute story. I am not a fan of stories that snowball out of control because of a miscommunication/misunderstanding or human error. Occasionally I come across a film with that kind of plot I liked and I liked it here because it leant itself very well to the comedy. The telephone operator happens to be an actress who would be very popular in the 1930s. You probably will not recognize her because she was a little heavy in the cheeks. The operator is played by Jean Arthur. Seven Chances is funny and enjoyable I recommend watching it which you can do here