Blu-ray: Recommended
3.5 Stars out of 5
Release Date: December 13th, 2011
Movie Release Year: 1925
Release Country: United States
COLLAPSE INFO -

Seven Chances: Ultimate Edition (1925)

Review Date January 11th, 2012 by
Overview - Love has never been funnier or more difficult to manage than in the immortal Keaton comedies. Seven Chances is a film often imitated but never rivaled for hilarity and visual virtuosity. Keaton stars as Jimmie Shannon, a romantically jinxed young man who must marry by 7:00 PM to inherit seven million dollars. While fate seems to thwart his efforts to woo the object of his true affection (Ruth Dwyer), public announcement of his strange predicament provides him with a throng of would-be brides who are aggressive in their pursuit of a husband, to say the least. In one of the most rousing, brilliantly choreographed sequences in Keaton's career, Shannon flees the horde of women while dodging the hostile forces of nature that seem to be conspiring against him (in the form of a colossal rockslide) during his manic dash to the altar. This beautiful new HD transfer has been mastered from an original 35mm nitrate print from the Library of Congress. FIRST TIME EVER ON BLU-RAY!
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  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc
    Video Resolution/Codec: 1080p / MPEG-4 AVC
    Length:56
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):1.33.1
    English Descriptive Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
    LPCM 2.0
    Subtitles/Captions: N/A
    Special Features: Audio Commentary
    About the Technicolor Sequence
    Tour of Filming Locations
    "A Brideless Groom" - Three Stooges Short
    How a French Nobleman Got a Wife Through the New York Herald Personal Columns
    Stills Gallery
    Movie Studio: Kino
    Release Date: December 13th, 2011

Story Review Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

4 Stars out of 5

Kino Classics continues giving Buster Keaton's films the Ultimate Edition treatment with the recent release of 'Seven Chances' on Blu-ray. It is based on a 1916 play written by Roi Cooper Megrue and, as stated in the extras, Keaton wasn't too keen on the idea when it was first brought to him, but he and his team of screenwriters (Clyde Bruckman, Jean Havez, and Joseph Mitchell) found a way to make it his own with visual gags that transferred the story from the stage to the screen.

The film opens with a sequence shot on two-strip Technicolor that shows the mild courtship over a year between shy Jimmie Shannon (Buster Keaton) and Mary Jones (Ruth Dwyer). Keep an eye on her dog for a good laugh.

In a timely storyline even though nearly a century has gone by, Jimmie and his partner William Meekin (T. Roy Barnes) run a brokerage firm that "had been tricked into a financial deal that meant disgrace – and possibly prison – unless they raised the money quickly" as a title card reveals. While nervous over their prospects, Fate steps in when attorney Caleb Pettibone (Snitz Edwards) informs Jimmie that his grandfather has left him $7 million, providing he's married by 7 p.m. on the day of his 27th birthday which coincidentally just so happens to be this day, leaving him only a few hours to spare.

Not being too smooth with the ladies, Jimmie bungles his proposal to Mary and fails to find a taker from the seven women (the "chances" from the film's title) he knows at the country club. His partner decides to put an ad in the paper as a last resort, not fully realizing how many women would be interested when he included the inheritance amount. This leads to an elaborate and very funny chase sequence through the streets and hills of Los Angeles that had so many extras take part some male actors were dressed as women. With so many women fighting to be his bride, it's hard to imagine how Jimmie will get to the altar with just one.

Stonefaced Keaton does a very good job as actor and director in his sixth feature film, considering he's in almost every scene. Although not as dangerous as it looks, he surely risked injury for some of the stunts. His influence is evident in people like Jackie Chan.

'Seven Chances' is a product of its time seen in the awkward racial material. A Caucasian actor in blackface plays the Hired Hand who works for Mary's family. Not sure why since other African Americans are seen in the film elsewhere. There's also a moment that will likely seem odd for most modern viewers. Early on in his desperation to find a wife, Jimmie approaches a woman from behind only to discover she's African American, resulting in him making a face of disappointment. It seemed like a strange reaction until I learned 30 out of the then 48 states had miscegenation laws on the books. Although I came to understand the "joke," knowing the context doesn't help because it's even more depressing.

With a runtime of 56 minutes and its simple plot, modern viewers will likely find 'Seven Chances' feels more like a two-part sitcom, but that's not meant to diminish the quality of the film. While the pacing of the first half moves a little slowly, the chase sequence during its conclusion is why it's so memorable and worth seeing.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

'Seven Chances' is a 50GB Region A Blu-ray disc in a clear keepcase housed inside a cardboard slipcase. The discs boot up directly to the menu screen without any promotional advertisements.

  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    50GB Blu-ray Disc
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    1080p / MPEG-4 AVC
    Length:56
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    1.33.1
    Audio Formats:
    DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
    LPCM 2.0
    Subtitles/Captions:
    N/A
    Special Features:
    Audio Commentary
    About the Technicolor Sequence
    Tour of Filming Locations
    "A Brideless Groom" - Three Stooges Short
    How a French Nobleman Got a Wife Through the New York Herald Personal Columns
    Stills Gallery
    Movie Studio: Kino
    Release Date: December 13th, 2011

Video Review

4 Stars out of 5

Even after being restored, the opening Technicolor sequence shows demonstrative damage. There's a red flare on the left side of the frame from nitrate decompositions, which is understandable after seeing 'About the Technicolor Sequence.' The extra shows how the nitrate Technicolor print has turned orange, so it's amazing that anything was generated from it, which earns an extra point.

The rest of the film shows a more stable, cleaned-up image with occasional and expected wear and age marks of scratches and white specks. There are a few frames missing. Rather than looking black and white, there's a slight sepia tint so the intended blacks look brown.

The image reveals very good depth and detail. The exteriors filled with brides show good separation of objects, as the women don't bleed into each other. Textures also come through clearly, from the walls of Jimmie's office to the runaway boulders, the latter of which give away a bit of the illusion. There's a good amount of film grain and the video looks free of any digital artifacts.

Audio Review

3.5 Stars out of 5

Composer Robert Israel leads a small orchestra, which can be heard in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 or PCM 2.0 stereo. The 5.1 track fills the surround speakers and the subwoofer adds a little extra bass to the proceedings. Aside from sounding so pristine, the ragtime-influenced score comes across as authentic to the film's era. The different instruments are distinct. The high pitch sound of the twinkling of the piano keys to the low sounds of the bass demonstrate the track's good dynamics as does the softly played flute and the loud organ heard as the women file into the church to meet Jimmie.

Special Features

3 Stars out of 5
  • Commentary
    Film historians Ken Gordon and Bruce Lawton sit together to discuss the film and its background. At times, Gordon sounds a bit stiff as when he reads the information he's presenting.
  • "A Brideless Groom" (HD, 17 min) –
    The Three Stooges repurpose the idea of 'Seven Chances' for this 1947 short that finds Shemp needing to be married to collect $500k from his dead uncle. Surely no coincidence, the aforementioned Clyde Bruckman was one of its writers.
  • "How a French Nobleman Got a Wife Through the New York Herald Personal Columns" (HD, 10 min) –
    An ad in the paper brings more interested ladies than a Frenchman can handle in this 1904 Edison Company short that features a chase sequence that may have influenced Keaton and his writers It's a forgettable novelty that's not worth sitting through.
  • Tour of Filming Locations (HD, 10 min) –
    Like he has done on other discs, such as Chaplin's 'Modern Times', John Bengtson, author of Silent Traces: Discovering Early Hollywood Through the Films of Charlie Chaplin, offers a tour of the film's locations. He shows how Los Angeles appeared during the shoot and, when possible, shows how the same buildings look today.
  • About the Technicolor Sequence (HD, 6 min) –
    Film historian Eric Grayson shows the work that went into to restoring the film's opening sequence.
  • Stills Gallery (HD)
    A gallery of 16 production stills is available for perusal.

Final Thoughts

Fans of Buster Keaton will be very pleased to see the work done to preserve and bring 'Seven Chances' to Blu-ray. Those who don't know the film or the man should take a chance on it because he is one of the greatest comedic actors/directors not just of the silent era, but all time.

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  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    50GB Blu-ray Disc
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    1080p / MPEG-4 AVC
    Length:56
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    1.33.1
    Audio Formats:
    DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
    LPCM 2.0
    Subtitles/Captions:
    N/A
    Special Features:
    Audio Commentary
    About the Technicolor Sequence
    Tour of Filming Locations
    "A Brideless Groom" - Three Stooges Short
    How a French Nobleman Got a Wife Through the New York Herald Personal Columns
    Stills Gallery
    Movie Studio: Kino
    Release Date: December 13th, 2011