Buster Keaton is one of the most celebrated stars of the silent film era. I watched his short film College a few months back and found it to be rather unsatisfactory, but I had a suspicion it was atypical of his work in that respect. So tonight I gave Keaton another chance… in film aptly titled Seven Chances. Luckily, it won’t wind up taking that many tries to entertain me.
In Seven Chances, Keaton (who also directed the film) stars as Jimmie Shannon, junior partner in an investment firm with Billy Meekin (T. Roy Barnes). His life seems to be a classic case of good news, bad news. The good news is, his firm is well known and established. The bad news is, being swindled into a bad deal means he and Billy are about to be flat broke and jailed unless they can come up with the money to make good on their clients’ investments. (The nature of the bad deal is never explained, but it’s pretty clear they wound up taking part in a scam of some sort.) The good news is, a lawyer (played by Snitz Edwards) arrives with news that Jimmie’s estranged grandfather has passed away, and left him a fortune of seven million dollars — more than enough to make good on his company’s debts. The bad news is, it’s conditional on Jimmie being a married man by seven o’clock on his 27th birthday — and today just happens to be Jimmie’s birthday. Good news? Jimmie already has a sweetheart, Mary (Ruth Dwyer), whom he would dearly love to marry anyway. Bad news? Jimmie seriously puts his foot in it when explaining the situation to her. And so, unceremoniously dumped by Mary, Jimmie now has to find a bride, any bride, by the end of the evening or he’ll be destitute and imprisoned. Continue reading