The plot revolves around a young man, James, who on the day of his 27th birthday, finds out that his dead grandfather has left him $7,000,000 (in 1925 dollars, so, a hell of a lot of cash), but he has to get married by 7:00 pm of that day. James goes to propose to his girlfriend, Mary Jones, and she initially accepts, but after he starts babbling about the money and how he has to marry someone today she gets offended and rejects him.
James then embarks on a desperate hunt for any eligible woman willing to marry him that day. Eventually he places an ad in the afternoon newspaper, seeking a bride. This backfires when a horde of women, all in wedding veils, descend upon Buster wanting to get married. Hilarity Ensues.
A pre-stardom Jean Arthur has a small part as Buster's receptionist/telephone operator.
Seven Chances was remade in 1999 as The Bachelor, starring Chris O'Donnell.
This film provides examples of:
- Arc Number: Seven. James is inheriting $7M, he's got to get married by 7 o'clock, it's his 27th birthday, and he knows seven single women (the "seven chances") who are possible candidates.
- Blackface: The black farm hand being played by a white actor.
- Break Her Heart to Save Her: Towards the end, James begs his girl not to marry him because his failure and disgrace would rub off on her.
- Brick Joke: The first three scenes portray changing seasons with Mary's dog getting progressively larger. The payoff doesn't happen until nearly an hour later.
- Butter Face: A rather disturbingly racist use of this gag. Buster sees a quite shapely woman walking away from him down the street. He dashes after her, only to suddenly veer away after seeing that she's black. Depressingly justified in that interracial marriage was illegal in pretty much all of the United States at the time.
- Cannot Spit It Out: James is too shy to admit his love to his girl.
- Clock Discrepancy: James's clock runs fast, which he realizes Just in Time to go through with his wedding.
- Contrived Coincidence: The hero receives the letter from his grandfather exactly the day the ultimatum runs out.
- Divorce in Reno: James runs a newspaper ad for a wife and is ready at the altar with tickets to both Niagara Falls, and Reno.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: James had to go through a lot of hardship to get his girl (and the inheritance).
- Escalating Chase/Everyone Chasing You: Buster is chased by hundreds of women. Along with some rolling boulders.
- Extremely Short Timespan: Aside from the opening, which inverts this by covering an entire year in an extremely short period, the rest of the film covers only a single day.
- Fourth-Date Marriage: Unfortunately the circumstances didn't allow for any dating to take place.
- Fruit Cart: While frantically running away from the enraged flock of brides, Buster runs right into, of all things, an apiary. Boxes of bees are knocked every which way.
- Gold Digger: A few hundred of them.
- Hair-Trigger Avalanche: While running downhill, Buster kicks a pebble. Which dislodges some stones. Which knocks off some boulders, until Buster has dozens of rolling rocks on his tail.
- Impeded Messenger: Played with, twice.
- First the lawyer who can't seem to get through to James.
- Also, the black servant who is supposed to submit the love letter to James but gets delayed on his way.
- Indy Escape: Might very well be the Ur-Example.
- Just in Time: Double subverted with the wedding deadline. First Buster seems to make it in time, but apparently misses ... just to realize his clock was running fast and be still in time.
- Match Cut: A rare example of the "match dissolve". James gets in his car to drive to his girlfriend's house. Instead of showing him driving, he gets in the car, and there's a dissolve to James in the exact same position in front of his girlfriend's house. When he leaves, there's an identical, reversed dissolve to show him in the same position back at the country club.
- No Guy Wants to Be Chased: Especially not by every woman in town!
- Not with Them for the Money: Mary is the only bachelorette who genuinely loves James and isn't interested in the inheritance.
- On One Condition: James must get married by the end of his 27th birthday.
- Partially-Concealed-Label Gag:
- In one scene, Buster sees a human-size poster of an attractive actress in front of a theatre and decides to bribe the bouncer to get into her changing room. Then a stagehand comes and removed a crate in front of the poster and reveals that the actress was actually an actor dressed as a lady. Cue Buster coming out of the changing room all bruised up.
- In another scene, Buster tries to escape a horde of angry women by rushing into a Turkish Bath. What he didn't know was that he actually crashed the Lady's day at the bath. Turns out the sign at the entrance was covered up by a pedestrian.
- Race Against the Clock / Race for Your Love: James in the second half of the movie to make it in time for his wedding.
- Right on the Tick: Buster is desperately racing to get married by 7 pm. When he gets there, his friend's watch says 7:03 and they are all disappointed, until they realize that his watch is fast and the church steeple says 6:58. Buster gets married and gets his $7,000,000.
- The Runt at the End: A long and elaborate action sequence involves Buster running down a hillside while dodging an avalanche of enormous boulders. After all the boulders have finally rolled past him downhill, Buster stops to catch his breath—and one last cantaloupe-sized rock knocks him off his feet.
- Splash of Color: The opening scene is shot in early Technicolor. It looks pretty washed out and orange-y, possibly due to deterioration of the film negative.
- Styrofoam Rocks: The "boulders" rolling downhill aren't tremendously realistic. Justified in the sense that the whole sequence is Played for Laughs anyway.
- Surprise Car Crash
- That Came Out Wrong: The girl sulks over James' clumsy line "My grandfather left me a lot of money provided I marry some girl today".
- Third-Act Misunderstanding: A variant where the misunderstanding happens in the first act.
- Title Drop: The seven society girls that Buster suggests as possible marriage candidates are his "seven chances" to get the money.
- Unexpected Inheritance: Seven million dollars, but only if he gets married that very day.
- Watch Out for That Tree!: Buster's car bumps into a tree while he was driving the street and facing a girl in the next car.
- "Which Restroom?" Dilemma: Buster accidentally crashes the "Ladies day" at the Turkish bath because the sign was covered at the entrance.
- Younger than They Look: All the "seven chances" girls reject James, but for a moment it seems that he has solved his problem when he finds a stylishly dressed young woman at the club who agrees to marry him. They are leaving the club when an older woman stops them and takes off the younger woman's coat—revealing her to be wearing a schoolgirl's dress. Then the older woman hands the younger woman a doll, while the younger woman, now revealed to be a child, pouts. James beats a hasty retreat while the "seven chances" women laugh at him.