My favorite brother of seven, Matt Mattox 3

Last night at TCM Fest: my first big-screen viewing of Stanley Donen’s “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” Especially fun since Jacques d’Amboise was just in Los Angeles on a book talk. He spoke quite a bit about making the film.

Indeed d’Amboise’s name, well-known considering he’s “just” a dancer, buzzed around the TCM Fest screening room when it appeared in the “Seven Brides’s credits: “Jacques d’Amboise, courtesy of New York City Ballet.” What a classy film credit!

D’Amboise was very young when he appeared in this movie and he was kept quiet ostensibly to mum up his huge Bronx accent. He’s surrounded by dance giants, among them Marc Platt and Tommy Rall, the latter whom Academy of Dance on Film founder, Larry Billman, calls, “the best dancer — ever.”

D’Amboise tells a funny story from the “Seven Brides” set. Rall stands and with no warmup or preparation whatsoever, rips off multiple triple tours en l’air. D’Amboise, half laughing, admits that to this day, he has no clue why Rall did it. Boredom, d’Amboise conjectures. Dancers spend gobs of time sitting around waiting when making movies.

In “Seven Brides,” it’s the tall lanky Jack Cole dancer, Matt Mattox, who captures my eye. What a dancer. He has that hard-core Jack Cole iron gut. He’s still around, in France. A beautiful dancer who went on to choreograph and be a seminal jazz-dance instructor with a clearcut methodology.

SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS

MGM, 1954, Color, 102 minutes

Produced by: Jack Cummings
Directed by: Stanley Donen
Assistant Director: Ridgeway Callow
Screen Play by: Albert Hackett & Frances Goodrich and Dorothy Kingsley
Musical Direction: Adolph Deutsch
Musical Supervision: Saul Chaplin
Lyrics by: Johnny Mercer
Music by: Gene DePaul
Orchestrations: Alexander Courage, Conrad Salinger and Leo Arnaud
Dances and Musical Numbers Staged by: Michael Kidd
Set Decorations: Edwin B. Willis, Hugh Hunt
Costumes Designed by: Walter Plunkett

Filmed in CinemaScope, Color by Ansco

Awards:
Academy Award for Best Score, Musical
Academy Award Nominations for Best Picture, Best Screenplay , Best Color Cinematography and Best Film Editing

Cast:
Howard Keel (Adam Pontipee),
Jane Powell (Milly),
Jeff Richards (Benjamin Pontipee),
Russ Tamblyn (Gideon Pontipee),
Nancy Kilgas (Alice),
Tommy Rall (Frank Pontipee),
Betty Carr (Sarah),
Marc Platt (Daniel Pontipee),
Virginia Gibson (Liza),
Matt Mattox (Caleb Pontipee),
Jacques d’Amboise (Ephraim Pontipee)

3 thoughts on “My favorite brother of seven, Matt Mattox

  1. Jazz dance Jan 14,2012 2:31 am

    Thank you for the interesting anecdote.

  2. Bob Boross Jul 21,2011 12:36 pm

    I agree, Matt was one of the strongest dancers in that stellar 7 Brides group. Clean and clear, and always fully executing movement with minimal effort. Matt has had international impact on jazz and theatre dance with his performance, teaching, and choreography. I wrote my MA thesis on him – “Image of Perfection: The Freestyle Dance of Matt Mattox.” Although he was not the dir/chor like Cole, Fosse, and Robbins, Matt’s work as a dancer, teacher, and also choreographer in film/tv/Broadway/concert dance, over a period of nearly 60 years, deserves high praise!

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