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  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • French: Dolby Digital Mono
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono
  • Italian: Dolby Digital Mono
  • Commentary - English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
    English, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish
  • 1 Teaser trailer
  • 2 Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary - Director Stanley Donen
  • Documentaries - three shorts
  • 3 Short film
  • Bonus feature film - Original full-screen version

Seven Brides For Seven Brothers - 50th Anniversary Edition

MGM/Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 194 mins . G . PAL


If you already have a copy on DVD of the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, tough luck. You'll just have to cast it aside and start all over again.

Seven Brides was never one of MGM's greatest musicals -- it simply isn't in the same league as Singin' In the Rain or Meet Me in St Louis. It even has a pretty pedestrian libretto, by the journeyman songsmith Johnny Mercer, who never really climbed much higher than serviceable.

Yet this sprawling outback romp, featuring Howard Keel and Jane Powell, and filmed in the big indoors of the MGM filmlot, is still immensely enjoyable -- in part because it boasts some of the most vigorous, infectious dancing of any musical since Oklahoma! hit the musical stage.

Seven Brides is very loosely based on the myth of how the early Romans, faced with a shortage of women, simply abducted women from the neighbouring town. And in this frontier musical, Howard Keel goes to town and quickly wins Jane Powell as his wife -- leaving his six brothers to visit town and abduct their own. It's hugely politically incorrect, and of course, great fun.

The projected budget for Seven Brides was slashed by MGM because they had an even bigger musical in the works at the same time -- Brigadoon. And blow me down if Seven Brides didn't blow the cheesy, totally cornball Brigadoon clear out of the water -- the ugly duckling turned into an outback Swan.

And there's another reason why the budget couldn't stretch too far -- and why it was shot on the MGM backlot instead of on location, as director Stanley Donen wished.

This was 1953, and 20th Century Fox had just introduced Cinemascope. MGM decided to try out this new format -- but it insisted, at huge cost, that Donen shoot the movie twice -- in Cinemascope, and then reframe and reshoot in 'flat' 1,85 ratio -- just in case most cinemas couldn't screen the new-fangled widescreen format.

But by the time of the movie's release the following year, Cinemascope had proved a sensation with audiences. The fullscreen version was never shown - the negatives were just locked away.

And here on this two-disc set, alongside the widescreen version, is the never-before-seen 'flat' version. It's subtly different, as you'd expect -- and if anything, is even more enjoyable in its composition than the Cinemascope version.

So here are Fourteen Brides for Fourteen Brothers - twice as much singing and dancing as ever before. Go abduct your copy today.


The Cinemascope (2,55) version is now anamorphic, and is of overall high quality.

But it is the newly released 'flat' 1,85 version, shown here as 1,78, which is the eye-opener. It's also anamorphic, and the action is way up front, leaping from the screen with intensified vigour and strength. And perhaps because of it laying dormant for more than half-a-century, the colours in this version are far more intense than we've seen before -- the immediacy and brightness of the hues is just sensational.

This is one case where the original Cinemascope is not the way to go; the newly-unveiled 'flat' edition now becomes my standard edition of choice.


The Cinemascope version has the same excellent 5.1 Dolby sound as before; the newly-discovered 'flat' version has Dolby Stereo, but lacks very little in comparison with its multichannel disc partner. It's warm and punchy, projecting both dialogue and music to great effect.


The Cinemascope version features audio commentary by director Stanley Donen, recorded a decade ago but still full of fascinating insights. Donen does give the best commentaries - this one isn't as totally diverting as the one he gives on the Criterion edition of Charade, but is still more entertaining than commentaries by almost anyone else.

There's a 42-minute Sobbin' Women, The Making of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers documentary of average promo interest, and two short newsreels from the time of the movie's release, both with narrative superimposed over the original sound. And there's a short film, MGM Jubilee Overture, made to celebrate the studio's 30th Anniversary --it's an uninspired assemblage of themes from the studio's major movies, performed by the MGM Studio Orchestra.

Finally, there are three trailers -- the original trailer for Seven Brides a trailer for its re-release on 70mm, and finally, a trailer for another Stanley Donen musical -- the far more wonderful all-singing, all-dancing all-talking Singing In the Rain.


This isn't the greatest musical ever made, but is rambunctious fun. And the presence on this two-disc set of the never-before-released 'flat' version makes it an indispensable purchase for any lover of the great American musical.

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  •  DVD NET Gold Review List 
      And I quote...
    "This is a terrific presentation of one of MGM's run of mid-Century Golden musicals, in the days when the studio could not put a dancing foot wrong. "
    - Anthony Clarke
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DVD 655A
    • TV:
          Loewe Profil Plus 3272 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Denon AVR-3801
    • Speakers:
          Neat Acoustics PETITE
    • Centre Speaker:
          Neat Acoustics PETITE
    • Surrounds:
          Celestian (50W)
    • Subwoofer:
          B&W ASW-500
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