But Keaton Only Needs One Chance to Impress

Released in 1925, Seven Chances came too early to subvert the romantic comedy. The tropes weren’t in place yet. Give it credit for being well ahead of things – the genre frequently pressures a woman to find a man. Seven Chances toys with the gender reversal of that cliché.

It’s ridiculous and corny in premise, sure. Buster Keaton must marry a woman by 7PM or lose out on $7 million inheritance. Part of this comes across like male wish fulfillment, a silent era Benny Hill skit where hundreds of women run after Keaton through the streets for their chance at cash after learning of the prize.

Feeble or not, the first two acts capture the romantic social pressures from a male’s perspective. Keaton’s attempts at asking women to marry him go foul, always with comedic consequences (racial stereotyping of the time notwithstanding). He’s rejected, laughed at, mocked, bamboozled, and swindled, eventually giving up after realizing the humiliation is too much. All is taken to cartoonish extremes for laughs, while capturing the nervousness involved when speaking to the opposite sex.

[Seven Chances] is riotous and consistently hilarious without a missed opportunity

The build up hits its crescendo with incredible results, partly a statement on what people will do for money (and how they’ll disregard personal safety for a chance at cash), and also Keaton at his most brilliant. Decades later, Keaton asked that Seven Chances not be restored; it was least favorite work, the how of that thought dying with him.

In those closing moments, Keaton hangs from a crane some 25 feet from the ground, nearly kills himself in a fall down a hill, dodges trains, is nearly stampeded, and continually ups the absurdity. By the time the chase runs through a bee keeper’s land, Seven Chances seems to close in on its finish. But there’s still barbed wire, a cow, fence obstructions, and stuck clocks, among others in his way.

Keaton’s finales seem to impossible to rank. The General puts the silent star in incalculable actual danger, Sherlock Jr. goes well beyond the norm in its motorcycle stunts, and Steamboat Bill Jr. nearly killed him (by choice). In terms of pure laughs, Seven Chances arguably presents the most per minute though, riotous and consistently hilarious without a missed opportunity. In the midst of a rock slide, the story’s folly disappears. What’s left is comic genius. It’s depressing to think Keaton didn’t see that in his own work.


Opening with two-strip Technicolor, the print looks hazy and worn. That’s expected. And still, it captures a unique, century-old style that’s inherently attractive, damaged or not. From there, the restoration takes over with sharpness that ranks, as it should, with the best of silent era transfers. Although paired on the same disc with another Keaton outing (Battling Butler), fine grain doesn’t struggle to maintain the look of authentic film stock.

Using various sources to piece the feature together, an occasional drop in quality does happen. Best guess is certain prints necessitated heavier clean-up leaving some shots flattened with a de-grained look. Smothered detail disappoints, if not out of line for something this vintage or as complicated to stitch together. Besides, overall quality matches the best of these Buster Keaton Collection Blu-rays so far.

Sepia tinting takes none of the contrast or dimension away. Seven Chances appears bright, with fantastic depth. That’s consistent no matter the source print.


DTS-HD 2.0 belts out an easy-going score with no impediment. With a new recording, fidelity issues stay away. The breezy music isn’t posing much of a challenge.


Nothing specific to Seven Chances aside from a trailer. A short bonus featurette is shared between the two films focused on Keaton’s stunts and runs four minutes.

Seven Chances
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With a finish rating among Buster Keaton’s best, Seven Chances takes a goofy story and turns it into a comedy classic of the silent era.

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