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Seven Chances

(silent 1925 b 56')

En: 6 Ed: 5

Based on David Belasco's play, a young executive of a company in trouble learns he has inherited a fortune if he is married by that evening.

Jimmy Shannon (Buster Keaton) meets Mary Jones (Ruth Dwyer) and wants to tell her that he loves her. Jimmy's firm needs money quickly to avoid legal difficulties. A man follows him home to show him a paper that says his grandfather left him $7,000,000 provided he is married by 7 p.m. on his 27th birthday, which is that day. Jimmy goes to ask Mary, and she says yes. When he says he must marry someone that day, she walks away. Jimmy goes to the office. Her mother (Frances Raymond) persuades her to give him a chance to explain. She tries to call and sends her hired hand (Jules Cowles) with a note to Jimmy that she will be home all day.

Jimmy's business partner Billy Meekin (T. Roy Barnes) and his lawyer (Snitz Edwards) persuade him he must marry to save the company, and they show him seven chances in a dining room. The first one laughs at him. Billy coaches Jimmy on how to ask. Jimmy tries again. Billy proposes for him, but she thinks he means the older lawyer. Jimmy fails again, and all seven are scratched. Billy says he will be at a church with a bride. The hat-check girl says no too. A girl going with Jimmy is stopped by her mother.

While talking with a woman driver, Jimmy drives into a tree. He does not ask a Jew or a Negro. Jimmy's story is on the front page. He goes to the church with flowers, a ring, the license, and tickets to Niagara Falls and Reno. He falls asleep in the front row, and the church fills up with brides with hundreds more outside. Two less attractive women sit next to him. The minister says it is a practical joke and asks them to leave. Jimmy goes out the window and hides under the building, where the hired hand gives him the note from Mary.

Jimmy drops the ring down a grate. He tries to find out the time in a clock shop and learns it is 6:15. Brides follow him down a street. They start running and pick up bricks. Jimmy tells Billy to bring a minister to Mary's house, and he runs through various places including a football game followed by the brides. He is lifted up by a crane, and for a moment the brides think he is dead. Jimmy gets entangled in barbed wire. He paddles a boat and swims. He runs up a mountain and down the other side, dodging rolling boulders.

Jimmy runs to Mary's house, but Billy's watch shows 7:03. Mary asks if they could be happy without the money. While they are being wed, Billy and the lawyer see that it is before seven.

This farce reflects a young man's shyness by exaggerating it into a nightmare where he is either rejected by one after another or deluged by a herd of would-be brides. The stampede of brides also satirizes the desire of so many to marry for money.

Copyright © 2006 by Sanderson Beck

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