Jimmy Shannon (Keaton) discovers that if he can get married by 7pm, then he will inherit 7 million dollars. All hope is lost when he botches the proposal to his girlfriend. The Keaton style antics take over as he proposes to just about all the women he comes across.
Seven Chances brings the model for romantic comedy to film, a genre that Buster Keaton was not a stranger to, see Sherlock Jr. from the year before. Keaton of course brings his stunts, comedic timing, and deadpan reactions.
The film is built off of one simple, and ridiculous, task that builds and builds on itself. After exhausting the ways for Jimmy to be turned down, the story flips to him not being able to avoid suitors. This leads to a ridiculous chase sequence that seem to be a facet of the Keaton silent films.
The chase sequence is where we see the stunts that are so much a part of Keaton’s films. Scenes of him jumping on the backs of cars, riding a tree from the top of a cliff down to the ground, jumping through windows, dodging boulders, are all compacted down to this long sequence.
I also noticed that the lawyer, played by Snitz Edwards, is also in The Thief of Bagdad as Ahmed’s associate in crime. Had I not watched these films back to back I probably would not have caught that.
One aspect that made this hard for me to put any kind of rating on is the black face. It is so unnecessary and ridiculous to have the character with blackface and the role is obscene as well. There are so many other ways they could have created a delayed delivery of a message that was not completely dominated by racist themes.
Overall, Seven Chances is not Keaton’s best. It succeeds with some interesting camera play, stunts, and general romantic comedy storytelling. It doesn’t push the medium of film much, certainly not as much as Keaton’s other films, and the unnecessary racism within the story only drags it down.
Directed by: Buster Keaton
Cinematography: Byron Houck & Elgin Lessley
Based on the play Seven Chances by: Roi Cooper Megrue
Screenwriters: Clyde Bruckman, Jean C. Havez, & Joseph A. Mitchell
Edited by: Buster Keaton
Starring: Buster Keaton, T. Roy Barnes, Snitz Edwards, & Ruth Dwyer
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Distributed by: Metro-Goldwyn