Upon its release, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was welcomed with rave reviews, and today, it’s considered one of the best musicals.
However, before it even got off the ground, the studio didn’t see its merit and treated it as a “B picture.” In fact, it almost wasn’t made as the studio began focusing on Brigadoon.
But director Stanley Donen found a way, cutting the budget for his passion project and making the musical masterpiece in 48 days.
1. The title changed due to censors.
Originally, the musical was called “The Sobbin’ Women.” However, the studio's marketing department felt that the name lacked the luster to draw audiences in. So it was changed to “A Bride for Seven Brothers.” This title, however, caused a stir with the Breen office, and the title eventually became Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
2. Powell wasn’t the original lead.
Vera-Ellen was the first announced for the role. She went on to star in White Christmas the same year Seven Brides was released. Howard Keel said, “Jane Powell, as Milly, was perfect, and I loved working with her. She was cute and persnickety and a multitalented pro.”
3. Donen fought to have the brothers dance.
The studio didn’t think the mountain men should dance at all and resisted the director’s vision. In the end, they allowed dancers to play the parts of four brothers, with the exception of two actors who were under contract – Russ Tamblyn and Jeff Richards. Tamblyn’s lack of dance training actually worked to his advantage as the number “Goin’ Courtin” was all about Jane Powell’s character teaching the brothers to dance. He said, “Of all the brothers in that number, I was the only one that naturally looked like he was learning to dance.”