Choreographer Michael Kidd’s exuberant dance numbers are the best of many good things about this joyful – though undeniably profoundly sexist – musical set in Oregon in 1850.
The plot concerns a family of six mangy fur-trapping brothers – Benjamin, Caleb, Daniel, Ephraim, Frank and Gideon – who abduct the only available women in town to be their wives at the instigation of their eldest sibling, Adam, who is already married.
The movie was based on a story by Stephen Vincent Benet, who took his plot from the rape of the Sabine women.
Johnny Mercer and Gene DePaul’s catchy tunes Bless Your Beautiful Hide, Goin’ Courtin’ and Spring, Spring, Spring are well sung by leads Howard Keel and Jane Powell.
Also notable is director Donen’s decision not to make the film on location but keep it on a set that looks like a set so you can concentrate on the action and not the scenery.
Rightly a sensational commercial success in its day, especially in Britain, this joyous romp remains one of the freshest and most satisfying of movie musicals.
The spectacular ‘barn raising’ number is a showstopper, and probably the best dancing scene of its kind.