SEVEN CHANCES, one of Keaton's least favorite
films, is undoubtedly no SHERLOCK JR. or THE GENERAL, but it does have unique charm all its
own, is filled with clever touches, and is surely not the disaster
Keaton considered it to be.
Based on a stage play, the story - a young man must get married by
seven P.M. or lose out
on an inheritance - mau have been better served by Harold Lloyd, but
Keaton does an admirable job with it. Perhaps its saving
its length, just shy of one hour.
In that short time,
Keaton sets up
the story, runs through several great gag sequences and builds to not
one but two separate climaxes. The first is a chase scene
featuring Buster trying to elude hundreds of potential brides who madly
pursue him through the streets, a scene highly reminiscent of his
classic short film Cops.
The second climax, which grows out of
the first, is one of the most memorable setpieces in silent
comedy. Buster, running down a hill, accidentally creates an
rocks and boulders on the hillside, and then spends ten minutes
jumping and ducking to
avoid getting killed by them. It is one of those comic
Laurel and Hardy carrying a piano up those endless steps, Chaplin
trapped in the gears of a machine, or Harold Lloyd hanging from a
clock, that is filled with much more philosophical symbolism than was
ever actually intended.
For the politically correct, SEVEN CHANCES may cause apoplexy, as not only does the film contain one gag based solely on race, but also features a black character obviously played by a white man. Such was silent comedy of the twenties. Deal with it. ½ - JB
The Bachelor (1999)