Seven Chances (1925) Director: Joseph Frank “Buster” Keaton
Based on the musical of the same name, this silly film tells the story of Jimmie Shannon, a stock broker, who is on the verge of bankruptcy. However, a lawyer chases him and his business partner around town, hoping to inform them that Jimmie’s grandfather has left him an inheritance of $7 million (they avoid the pursuing lawyer thinking he might be issuing a summons to account for the mounting debts). However, they do catch one another and the only provision for Jimmie to receive the inheritance is that he must be married by 7 o’clock on his 27th birthday. In a panic, he realizes it is actually the day of his 27th birthday and so he rushes to propose to his long-time girlfriend, Mary, but she declines because she is worried Jimmie only cares about the money. Back at the office, she tries to call him but his phone is off the hook and she overhears his despair in a touching scene as he professes his love for Mary. Instantly, she sends a note over to him, but the note is delayed as Jimmie is chased all over town by a large group of women suddenly wanting to marry him for his money until he arrives at the doorstep of Mary and they are wed moments before the 7 o’clock deadline.
Buster Keaton actually hated this play when it was on broadway, but he owed money to Joseph Schenck who had bought the rights to the play so Keaton reluctantly agreed to make the film, though he never really liked it. Seven Chances was later remade several times by The Three Stooges, and as recently as The Bachelor in 1999. While it falls short of some of his other movies, such as The General (1926) or Sherlock, Jr. (1924), Seven Chances is a splendid and charming little film worth seeing for fans of Buster Keaton’s repertoire.