SEVEN CHANCES(director: Buster Keaton; screenwriters: from the play by David Belasco/Roi Cooper Megrue/Clyde Bruckman/Jean Havez/Joseph Mitchell; cinematographers: Byron Houck/Elgin Lessley; editor: Buster Keaton; music: Robert Israel; cast: Buster Keaton (Jimmie Shannon), Jean Arthur (Receptionist, Miss Smith), T. Roy Barnes (His partner Billy Meekin), Snitz Edwards (His lawyer), Ruth Dwyer (His girl Mary Jones), Erwin Connelly (The clergyman), Jules Cowles (The hired hand), Julian Eltinge (Female Impersonator); Runtime: 65; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Joseph M. Schenck; Kino; 1925-silent)
“One of the greatest ever chase scenes.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A less ambitious but, nevertheless, hilarious Buster Keaton (“The General”) comedy. It’s taken from the play by David Belasco and scripted by a team of writers. This minor film is based on a one-joke premise, but it has one of the greatest ever chase scenes. Keaton proves he’s a master at building the comedy until it reaches its absolute breaking point.
Bachelor Jimmie Shannon (Buster Keaton) is partners with stockbroker Billy Meekin (T. Roy Barnes); his firm was tricked into making a crooked deal which could land him in prison unless he comes up with the money to pay back those he hurt. Miraculously Jimmie is informed by a lawyer (Snitz Edwards) he never met before that his grandfather died and left him an inheritance of $7 million with the provision that he must be married by 7 p.m. on his 27th birthday. He gets the news of this on the morning of his 27th birthday and has but a few hours to tie the knot. Jimmie goes to the home of his longtime girlfriend Mary (Ruth Dwyer) and proposes; she accepts but changes her mind when he tells her why he chose today to ask as she feels slighted. His lawyer and partner insist that he finds someone else, anyone, and they take him to the country club. He takes a crack at the seven eligible women he knows there but they all burst out laughing at him. Jimmie then gets desperate and tries asking anyone in the street but confronts dogs, a Jewess, a Negro, and several other undesirables including a female impersonator. These sight gags were more in bad taste than funny. But the final desperate attempt by Jimmie’s pals was a well-conceived idea. They place an ad in the local Daily News and hundreds of women come to the church bedecked in veils at 5 p.m. to marry the potential multimillionaire. The minister believes it’s a hoax and tells that to the women. They react by chasing him through the Los Angeles streets, hurling bricks at him, forcing him to evade giant boulders rolling down from a mountain, and he must escape from hunters shooting at him. It builds to a marvelously outrageous climax, as the tension mounts to see if he’ll marry in time and who’ll be the bride.
Jean Arthur, who was in her third year in films and was shortly to have her illustrious career take off, has a small part playing Keaton’s receptionist and is the one who waves her engagement ring at him.
REVIEWED ON 8/29/2005 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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