A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that some critics have complained that this movie all but promotes rape, but that's unfair. Ultimately it is very much the girls' own decision to stay and marry. Milly wants to be seen as a partner who has opinions and value, not a servant without wages. The girls want to be asked, not kidnapped.
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What's the story?
In this beloved 1950s musical, handsome backwoodsman Adam Pontabee (Howard Keel) has given himself one day to find a wife in town, to take back to his ranch. He meets Milly (Jane Powell), a spirited waitress, proposes, and she accepts, unaware that she'll also be housekeeper and cook to his six slovenly brothers. She tells the men they must learn to behave, and they eventually love and respect her and want wives of their own. At a barn raising, they each fall in love. Back at the ranch, they long for their girls and follow Adam's suggestion -- they go into town and steal them. But the furious women won't have anything to do with them, even though they are snowed in at the ranch until the spring thaw. Milly is so angry with Adam that he leaves to spend the rest of the winter in a hunting cabin, unaware that she is pregnant. The girls soften toward the brothers, and by spring, are ready to marry them, in one big ceremony. And Adam returns, realizing how much Milly means to him.
Is it any good?
This movie includes some of the most thrillingly energetic dances ever put on film, including the classic barn-raising number (which unfortunately suffers on the small screen). Based on a short story by Stephen Vincent Benet, it is almost an icon of America as it saw itself in the 1950s -- brash, energetic, adventuresome, and cocky.
Some critics argue that the movie all but promotes rape, but that is unfair. Even though the girls are very attracted to the brothers, they are very angry at being kidnapped, and the brothers are banished to the barn. They must earn their way back into the girls' affections by treating them with courtesy and respect, and ultimately it is very much the girls' own decision to stay and marry them. With the help of youngest brother Gideon, Milly teaches Adam that even though she accepted his proposal quickly, she is still worth earning.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the barn raising dance number helps to tell the story. Milly and Adam get married very quickly without talking about what they want. How does that create problems? How does Milly show how important family is to her? Why is it hard for Adam to realize how important Milly is to him? How does Milly show how important family is to her? Why is it hard for Adam to realize how important Milly is to him?
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