My favorite silent film. So this is about a young man (Buster Keaton) who finds out that he will inherit seven million dollars if he is married by 7 PM on his twenty-seventh birthday. Can you guess what today it is? Now I don’t have a huge background in silent films as a whole, but the one thing I do know a lot about is Buster Keaton. Exploring the 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die really turned me on to his work, and I’ve been hooked ever since. While The General may be his most recognized work, and while it does certainly deserve all of the recognition it has received, I would go so far to say that Seven Chances is his most enjoyable work, and I’ve already watched this three times, enjoying it equally each viewing.
The story on this is simple and sweet: boy wants girl, but due to extenuating circumstances, boy can’t have girl, so boy has to rise up and overcome. It’s tried, it’s true, and in a number of different ways, this is very much a precursor to the modern romantic comedy in that the entire plot relies on one misunderstanding. However, the reason why the majority of romantic comedies fall short these days is that everything would be solved if the leads stopped to have a conversation. Here, it is perfectly understandable why this dialogue isn’t occurring, given how long simple communication takes if there is any distance between the two parties whatsoever.
Everybody here commits. I know this is a silent film, and it would be easy for these actors to fake it, but you can tell that every actor is in the moment entirely. So much of what I love about Buster Keaton is showcased front and center with this film. His eyes are truly a window into his soul, and you can watch the gears turn in his head as he figures a problem out. He has comedic timing down to a tee, and Buster can get a quality laugh simply by looking at point A, then at point B, and then at point A again. The way he plays characters is infectious, and he has so much charm that he knows the way right into my heart. It’s just so ridiculously likable that I have a huge smile on my face every time I watch this.
Readily available on Netflix in crisp, clean high definition and clocking in at under an hour long, this is one easy to digest feature. The gags come in fast and furious, and I have had a blast every time I’ve taken the time to watch this. Just going in, you should know that there are a couple of racial things featured here that aren’t really cool, but that is just a sign of the times, and if you blur your eyes a little, you should be able to get past it. When the big finale is reached and the bride mob takes to the streets, I am supremely entertained and the happiest movie watcher in the world (also worth mentioning: there’s a Goldfrapp mash-up video with this on Youtube that’s really worthwhile). I can’t recommend this enough, as this is one of my very favorite movies.
Seven Chances (1925) *****
– Critic for Hire