With Buster Keaton, T. Roy Barnes, Snitz Edwards, Ruth Dwyger
Directed by Buster Keaton
Silent, Black and White
Reviewed by JB
She loves me like a rock

     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 grace is 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 avalanche of rocks and boulders on the hillside, and then spends ten minutes running, jumping and ducking to avoid getting killed by them.  It is one of those comic situations, like Laurel and Hardy carrying a piano up those endless steps, Chaplin getting 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

Buster Keaton    The Age of Comedy


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