March 11 is the anniversary of the release of the great Buster Keaton feature Seven Chances (1925).
Seven Chances (1925) was based on a 1916 stage play by Roi Cooper Megrue which had been a hit for producer David Belasco. Joe Schenck purchased the property for Keaton on the strength of its stage success. Oddly Keaton didn’t think much of this movie and would have been happy to have let it be destroyed. Consensus over time has been that is one of his best and one of the most “Keatonesque”.
It concerns a young man who will only inherit his fortune if he is married by a certain specified time. His ad in a newspaper results in the characteristic Keaton nightmare of an army of eager brides, reminiscent of the policemen in Cops.
The movie contains one of his most famous sequences: Keaton running down a steep hill on extreme long shot, desperately trying to outrun an avalanche of boulders. He would later adapt this gag, changing the boulders to beer kegs in What, No Beer? which would then be “borrowed” by The Three Stooges in Three Little Beers.
Also in the cast: T. Roy Barnes, Snitz Edwards, and a not-yet-famous Jean Arthur! Vaudeville fans will also appreciate an eye-winking reference to Julian Eltinge.
Keaton, Pursued by Boulders
For more on comedy film history including great Buster Keaton classics like “Seven Chances” see my book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube