In memorium: Matt Mattox from ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’

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SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS (1954) / MGM / LES SEPT FEMMES DE BARBEROUSSE / FRANCE / ARTIST: ROGER SOUBIE

Enchanting Jane Powell marrying reclusive rancher Howard Keel is the catalyst for his six brothers following suit in a rollicking athletic courtship, inventively choreographed by Michael Kidd, and visualized by France’s most prolific poster artist, Roger Soubie. Director Stanley Donen added an unexpected smash hit to his musical hat. Songs: Johnny Mercer & Gene De Paul.

Surely the main figure lifting Jane Powell aloft is meant to represent Howard Keel, but I believe the French artist may have modeled the figure on long-legged Matt Mattox, who excels as a dancer in the movie. Mattox’s huge Hollywood dance career began auspiciously, in a Fred Astaire film, according to his colleague and protegee Bob Boross:

Matt’s first break was being hired for the Fred Astaire film “Yolanda and the Thief” choreographed by Eugene Loring. Matt was taking ballet in Los Angeles with Nico Charisse, and Cyd Charisse brought him to the attention of Loring. Matt made the audition, and started work on the Astaire film just days after. From there, he never looked back.

Matt Mattox was a Jack Cole dancer. That says it all — a top notch dancer and a hugely influential jazz-dance instructor. He was a force of greatness in France where he lived for decades.

“Seven Brother” image from the collection of Mike Kaplan. More on the collection here.


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